Vice President, Dr Mohammed Gharib-Bilal stated here that the ‘urban profiling’ project had been mapped out in the Coast, Dar es Salaam and Morogoro regions under four themes of governance, slums, gender, HIV/AIDS and environment, targeted towards ensuring ‘shelter for all’ as an important agenda in socio-economic development.
The urban profiling studies conducted by the University College of Lands and Architectural Studies (UCLAS) and involving national and local authorities, were conducted in the backdrop of the UN-Habitat report that around 35 per cent of the 45 million Tanzanians live in cities and that the annual urban population growth rate is 4.9 per cent, making the country to be among one of the most rapidly urbanizing states in the region.
This urbanization, according to the report, has caused an increase in pollution, haphazard housing and settlement development, environmental degradation, land tenure insecurity and poor infrastructure maintenance with unplanned settlements making up 60 to 75 per cent of Tanzania’s urban population.
Dr Bilal was in Arusha to grace the East African Legislative Assembly Conference on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at which he revealed that the government would, in this financial year 2013/14, be implementing the ‘Big Results Now’ (BRN) initiative which supplements the MDGs with a view to fast-tracking poverty alleviation in Tanzania and accelerating socio-economic development.
The two-day event which winded up on Tuesday was attended by EALA members, legislators from South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Burundi. The conference also marks the silver jubilee of the Global Parliamentarians on Habitat (GPH).
The EALA Speaker, Ms Margaret Zziwa, urged the region to expend more resources in ensuring the HABITAT agenda was realized. She remarked that all stakeholders had an important role to play in ensuring the region realizes its full potential in the MDGs.
“The status of our cities, have become very unmanageable, congestion, pollution, garbage and dust. But who is responsible; are city authorities adequate and sufficient to deal with this mess?” asked Ms Zziwa.
She called upon legislators to act on the situation through enacting laws, or holding accountable on policies regarding decent and affordable housing, sustainable cities and also equitable share of resources in terms of sectors, like health (MDGs 2, 4 and 5) education (4 and 6), water (7) food production, fuel and energy provisions, housing, among others which mainly affect the most vulnerable sections in the society.
Dr Zziwa also termed unemployment and under-employment as two devastating challenges afflicting youths and constraining their very survival in the EAC region.
Statistics reveal that only 11 per cent of school graduates can acquire jobs in the public sector. In the Republic of Kenya, 72 per cent of the unemployed population is below 30 years of age. Unemployment means the region may not be able to comfortably realize MDG No: 1.