Kenya will increase its contribution to the United Nations Human Settlement Foundation by $30,000 (Sh3 million), President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Monday.
During the inaugural Habitat assembly at the UN offices in Gigiri, Mr Kenyatta stressed the country’s commitment to implementing the Urban Agenda, a programme jointly set up by countries to elevate the status of towns and improve the quality of life.
Kenya has already embarked on a plan to build 500,000 low-cost houses by 2022.
“My government will increase its contribution to UN-Habitat Human Settlement Foundation from $70,000 to $100,000,” the President said, adding that Kenya would consider additional contributions during pledging session.
He said the government has facilitated the establishment of a mortgage liquidity facility — the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company — to support the development of primary and secondary mortgage markets.
The company, he said, would provide secure long-term funding to mortgage lenders and increase the availability of affordable loans to Kenyans.
The assembly is the first big inter-governmental forum on urban development issues.
The discussions will centre on how to implement the agenda adopted in 2016 and the sustainable development goals.
More than 3,000 delegates from across the world, including mayors, governors, private industry players, and academics, are taking part in the event.
Some 70 exhibitors will also showcase their innovations on improved urban planning, sanitation, housing and public transport, among others.
Leaders admitted that efforts to upgrade slums have borne little success.
The number of slum dwellers in Kenya has risen to 6.4 million, making up 56 per cent of the urban population, the meeting was told.
At the opening of the five-day event, also attended by UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif and UN Environment Programme acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya, President Kenyatta called on UN member states to increase and honour their contributions to the foundation.
He said societies around the world are ill-prepared for the rapid urbanisation taking place.
“As a result, many countries have witnessed the proliferation of slums, poverty and environmental degradation,” he added.
Ms Sharif said lack of proper city planning has negative consequences for current and future generations.
“It means poverty, socio-economic inequality, slums, humanitarian crises, conflict, climate change, high unemployment and gender discrimination in urban centres,” she said.