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Kigali, 22 Oct 07
A two-day national conference on poverty reduction and good governance through sustainable urban development and housing was last week held in Kigali with a call to establish the Rwandan Urban Forum, expected to coordinate and bring to the attention and make sound recommendations to the national government and development partners on crucial urban and housing issues.

In his official remarks, the Rwandan Minister for Infrastructures, Stanislas Kamanzi while lauding UN-HABITAT for the continued support his country has received in the areas of urban development, noted however, that more was still to be done in aid of policy implementation and appealed to the UN through UN-HABITAT and other UN agencies to help in the resource mobilization efforts.

“Having a brilliant master plan in place is good enough but implementing it is another and more efforts now need to be channelled towards the implementations of some of these policies”, said the Minister.

The Rwandese government, the Minister said, appreciates the work done so far by UN-HABITAT which came to assist the Rwandese immediately after the 1994 genocide by helping in planning for the resettlements of thousands of people returning home after the war and have continued doing so in areas of policy formulation and capacity building.

Terming the conference a milestone in the process of elaborating and implementing a sustainable housing and urban development policy for Rwanda, Mr. Alioune Badiane, the Director, Regional Office for Africa and the Arab States, called for a rethink of the regional and urban planning and particularly with regards to land use planning and better agglomeration patterns .

Mr. Badiane appealed to all the national ministries concerned to work together as a team in tackling and planning on issues related to urban development. “When a bag of cement is fetching expensively in the market, the cost of building for a local man becomes a challenge and it is the responsibility of the finance ministry to work on ways to lower the price through tax reduction or other ways possible,” Alioune to the audience that included top government ministers.

The conference was attended by various UN Agencies working in Rwanda and other international NGOs and partners in the region including the World Bank. Senior Rwandese and Burundi ministers were present.

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