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Email: infohabitat@unhabitat.org
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By 2030 Africa will change
from rural to urban society

By Tann vom Hove, Editor

5 February 2005: Urban poverty is one of the biggest challenges facing African countries. According to UN-Habitat, currently two-thirds of Africa's urban population live in informal settlements without adequate sanitation, water, transport or health services. The Nairobi-based organisation projections indicate that Africa's population will cease to be a predominantly rural in 2030. Africa's urban population is increasing at above three per cent, and in just a decade, 40 per cent of Africa's people will live in urban areas, most condemned to slums and shanties.

UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Mrs Anna Tibaijuka told the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development, which was held in February 2005 in Durban (South Africa), that these figures harshly drew attention to the fact that the majority of city dwellers were widely doomed to live in poverty and also in poor environmental conditions. “African countries were poorer now than they were in the early 1960s, partly because the continent had been not been integrated into the world trade system on favourable terms,” she added.

Mrs Tibaijuka said that urban poverty was the cause of many social ills and threatened to break up the social fabric of African communities. “Slums are places where hunger prevails, and where young people are drawn into anti-social behaviour, including crime and terrorism, for lack of better alternatives,” she warned.

South Africa's Deputy President, Mr. Jacob Zuma reminded the Durban Conference that the existence of shack inhabitants and slum settlements on the continent remained a constant reminder that we had not fully achieved the goal of restoring the right to human dignity to all our peoples. “We cannot ignore the indignity suffered by families living in shacks with no ablution facilities and no sanitation, no water, electricity or any other basic services we take for granted ourselves,” Mr Zuma concluded.

Mrs. Tibaijuka, who is one of the 17 members of the Commission for Africa set up by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, assured the ministers and leaders attending the conference that she would bring their concerns to the attention of the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G8), with urban poverty topping her list of priorities. Member countries of the G8 are Russia, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, the USA and the UK.


Anna K. Tibaijuka, UN-HABITAT Executive Director


Introducing the G8
Since 1975, the heads of state or government of the major industrial democracies have been meeting annually to deal with the major economic and political issues facing their domestic societies and the international community as a whole. The six countries at the first summit, held at Rambouillet, France in November 1975, were France, the United States, Britain, Germany, Japan and Italy. They were joined by Canada at the San Juan Summit of 1976 in Puerto Rico, and by the European Community at the London Summit of 1977. From then on, membership in the G7 was fixed, although 15 developing countries' leaders met with the G7 leaders on the eve of the 1989 Paris Summit, and the USSR and then Russia participated in a post-summit dialogue with the G7 since 1991. Starting with the 1994 Naples Summit, the G7 met with Russia at each summit (referred to as the P8 or Political 8). The Denver Summit of the Eight was a milestone, marking full Russian participation in all but financial and certain economic discussions; and the 1998 Birmingham Summit saw full Russian participation, giving birth to the G8 (although the G7 continued to function along side the formal summits). At the Kananaskis Summit in Canada in 2002, it was announced that Russia would host the G8 Summit in 2006, thus completing its process of becoming a full member.

The responsibility of host rotates throughout the summit cycle at the end of the calendar year, as follows: France, United States, United Kingdom (2005), Russia (as of 2006), Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada.
Source:
G8 Information Centre
www.g7.utoronto.ca