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City-wide Residents’ Convention: SAFER NAIROBI HOME FOR ALL
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Opening Statement by Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director, UN-HABITAT presented by Lars Reutersward, Director, Global Division, UN-HABITAT

Honorable Chris Murungaru, Minister for Provincial Administration and National Security
Honorable Musikari Kombo, Minister for Local Government
His Worship Dick Wathika, Mayor of Nairobi
Distinguished Guest and Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen.

  • We open today a crucial event on the way towards a Safer Nairobi. The topic of the Convention is of primary concern to the daily life of Nairobi residents, as it is for most urban dwellers around the world.
  • High crime rates present significant threats to their lives, property, and security.
  • The consequences of urban crime and violence are multiple. Crime generates a feeling of insecurity that spirals distrust, intolerance and in certain cases violent reactions.
  • Violence creates a culture of suspicion and divides cities. It makes cities inefficient and unproductive as well as more unequal and intolerant.
  • Urban crime and violence also provide a conducive environment for the development of other social problems, and they can hamper our most determined development efforts.
  • Finding solutions to crime and violence is a specific challenge for our city, Nairobi.
  • Today, reducing crime is everyone’s responsibility. If we can take responsibility and action, our cities can be places where life is led with dignity, safety, happiness and hope.
  • When H.E. the President launched the upgrading of Kibera on 4th October, a collective commitment was sealed to the improvement of the living conditions of the poorest section of Nairobi.
  • As UN-HABITAT, we know that for such initiatives to succeed, there is a need to adopt governance practices that are inclusive of all residents and to foster a climate of trust between the citizenry and the authorities. The space for debate and participation has to be free of fear and built on the principles of civility and respect, regardless of status or income.
  • Crime and incivility are linked manifestations of the breakdown of inclusive governance and a major hindrance for positive processes to take roots in the communities, particularly among the most vulnerable.
  • We know that these are city-wide phenomena that need to be addressed at various level, through actions targeting both the physical and social environments, as well as the institutional mechanisms and capacities.
  • In this perspective, as we multiply our efforts to solve the shelter problem of the poorest sections of the city, UN-HABITAT is happy to have been providing technical support to Nairobi City Council for the development of a crime prevention strategy and, in doing so, revealing the linkages between urban physical settings, social vulnerability and institutional set ups that are at the heart of this urban malaise.
  • The Government, the provincial authorities, the City Council, the criminal justice system, the police, the business community, civil society and individual citizens, as well as donors, have gone a long way together, in search of a common vision and shared framework for action. I wish to acknowledge their commitment.
  • Also, and in particular, the support of UNDP in this process is fully appreciated and acknowledged
  • The City Council of Nairobi has worked through its Interdepartmental Committee to assess the contribution of the Council to urban safety and to discuss with other key actors a prevention strategy.
  • In doing so, the Council has built on the experience it has, as well as on numerous international experiences and practices. We are proud to have been associated to this process.
  • The drafting of the strategy and its approval by the Council are important milestones towards a Safer Nairobi. The Convention we open today has as its first objective to improve and expand the strategy to fully include other actors and residents concerns.
  • The Convention also aims at indicating the way forward towards implementation of the strategy. It is therefore a key moment towards a safer Nairobi, where we measure the task ahead and develop realistic ways of tackling the huge demand for safety expressed by the City Residents and business.
  • UN HABITAT will continue to offer technical support to this process and to the implementation of the strategy itself. A key element will be the establishment of a full time team to carry on the process and coordinate it. We hope that the process of setting up this Safer Nairobi Team will be carried out within the year under the guidance of the Ministry of Local Government and the Nairobi City Council with the support of the Ministry of Internal Security and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
  • UN-HABITAT’s role will be that of supporting the local actors, building on its international experience and sharing the lessons learnt from other cities committed to tackle causes of crime through prevention interventions.
  • Lessons learnt from other cities in the world indicate that three elements are essential to face crime. Firstly, partnership among public authorities, civil society and the private sector. Secondly, a shared vision and strategy, with clear objectives and targeted actions. And thirdly, accountability. Where those responsible for implementing a strategy are not fully accountable, there is very little chance to establish efficient interventions.
  • The process we are part of today are targeting at the core of these concerns.
  • The fact that the City Council of Nairobi is taking a leading role needs also to be recognised. Local authorities continue to gain importance in a globilised world, for the delivery of services to the residents and to voice the residents concerns within Government.
  • In Kenya, as reforms take root in Local Governments, their capacity needs to be strengthened and their role enhanced, for them to play their rightful role.
  • The Convention must come up with proposals that represent the views and opinions of the widest possible body of opinion in Nairobi. In this way it will define a concrete, sustainable way forward that has the support of the vast majority of the Nairobi residents.
  • I challenge all of you to make this Convention a milestone in the dialogue between stakeholders in Nairobi. To make the impact of this initiatives as concrete as possible, in the way all of us operate and in the life of the residents.
  • I challenge all of you to bring the impact if the Initiative to the slums, where the largest number of victims of crime and of the fears it generates are to be found.
  • I challenge all of you to develop initiatives that improve the livelihood of youth and their feeling of purpose and belonging. To go beyond the reactive approach to the problem of street children, and develop adequate support mechanisms for families and young people so that a life in the streets in no more the only alternative they have.
  • The energy and resources hidden among the urban youth need to be tapped and oriented towards making this city a more inclusive place.
  • I believe that if the inclusive approach adopted by this convention is successful, it can be applied to many other areas of endeavour in Nairobi, such as environment, employment, housing, etc. I believe in a better Nairobi.
  • When there is commonality of purpose, as we can shape through this Convention, we can succeed.
  • I wish you a frank and fruitful discussion around these issues and the capacity and drive to bring about a clear and realistic way forward.
I thank you.

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