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Slums upgrading program lauded at UN

The government’s efforts to improve living conditions in slums were cited at the United Nations on Monday as a promising step toward making Nairobi a more “sustainable city.”

Current living conditions in the Kenyan capital pose “quite a challenge in terms of urbanisation,” said Joan Clos, head of the Nairobi-based UN Habitat agency.

Kenya’s decentralisation policy offers “a huge opportunity” to empower local authorities to reduce the pressure in slums such as Kibera, Mr Clos told the NairobiNews following a press conference at UN headquarters.

He pointed to worrisome urban trends in countries such as Kenya, while outlining UN Habitat’s agenda for a forum on the developing world’s cities to be held next year in Colombia.

“The number of people in slums is increasing” worldwide even though global population growth is slowing, Mr Clos, a former mayor of Barcelona, remarked at the press conference.

This is because “more people are moving into – unplanned extensions of cities- than are moving out,” he explained.

Flooding in these informal areas is a common and worsening problem, Mr Clos noted.

Sanitation also severely lags in slums in the developing world, he said, adding that efforts to improve sanitation have proved to be the least successful of the UN’s 2015 Millennium Development Goals.