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Juba, 1 Nov 11

Photo © UN-HABITAT / A. Kassim

It was both tears and joy as the world's youngest nation celebrated its first ever World Habitat Day. This celebration comes at a time when newly independent South Sudan is embarking on reconstruction after years of stagnation and underdevelopment caused by a protracted civil war.

"This is an important day for us in the South, it is the first international day of its kind giving opportunity for the people in the South Sudan to join the rest of the world in celebration," said Minister of Housing and Physical Planning, Mrs. Jemma Kumba

She urged UN-HABITAT, other UN agencies and the international donor community to help in the development of South Sudan. She indicated that this can be made possible by availing development funds to development programmes and initiatives. She called upon UN-HABITAT to help the new country deliver basic services, housing and capacity and urban management.

"Our friends from the international community should avail funds to UN-HABITAT to achieve this goal. UN-HABITAT is a great friend and we should continue working closely in tackling urban planning and housing challenges together," she said.

On climate change, the Minister took note of the economic and social setbacks brought about as a result of the effects of climate change and promised that the Government of South Sudan will work with development partners to develop appropriate strategies to meet the challenges of climate change.

South Sudan has some of the worst development indicators in the world. As the country finds her feet as a new nation, it will require timely interventions by donors and development partners including UN agencies working in the humanitarian and development sector. For example, half the population in the country does not have access to safe drinking water while only one person in five uses a health-care facility in their lifetime.

According to the Minister, UN-HABITAT is needed in the country to help meet numerous development challenges including tackling the needs of returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), assisting in improving living conditions by making available infrastructure and services, housing sector and improved urban economy. She further said that infrastructure development, urban and basic services will form key government priority in developing the new nation which in spite of the huge oil wealth it has only about 30 miles (50 kilometres) of paved road.

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