Ministry of Internal Affairs, UN-Habitat Initiate Development of ‘Comprehensive’ National Urban Policy

Deputy Minister Internal Affairs Minister for Urban Affairs, Famater Roesler speaking at a day-long meeting aimed at developing a comprehensive national urban policy

Monrovia – The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in partnership with UN-Habitat and Cities Alliance (CA) has begun the process to develop a comprehensive national urban policy (NUP) for Liberia.

According to organizers, the NUP is a part of a broader endeavor aimed at poverty reduction and fostering sustainable and resilient Liberian cities.

Stakeholders gathered at a day-long meeting which brought together stakeholders from cross session of the Liberian society under the umbrella of the National Habitat Committee and Technical Support Team.

Addressing Stakeholders at the event held at Monrovia City Hall, the MIA’s Deputy Minister for Urban Affairs, Famater Roesler said the National Urban Policy development process is aligned with President George Manneh Weah’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity.

According to her, the Agenda is to get people out of poverty quickly as possible. She pledged the government’s commitment to the process of leading the NUP process.

“We want to see our Country develop and compete with our neighbors,” she said.

According to her, in 2008, 47 percent of Liberia’s population of 3.5 million were living in urban areas with a growth rate of 4.7 percent. 

By 2015, she said it was estimated that 50.1 percent of the population was living in urban areas with over one million of the population living in Monrovia and greater Monrovia.

Currently, she said Liberia has an estimated population of 4.1 million of which 2.1million (51.1%) are living in urban areas. 

Speaking further, she revealed that the Habitat III report for Liberia states 70% of urban population lives in slum conditions, something she said is ‘very disturbing.’

Some of the problems the report highlighted include the lack of adequate housing, no good toilet facilities and nutrition space in household, problem with providing clean and safe water for urban household, inadequate energy and electricity distribution among others.

She blamed some of these problems to lack of proper urban and land use planning.

Also speaking, Cities Alliance Liberia’s Country Manager, Francisco M. Juarez  Lopez  said the government of Liberia through the MIA, in partnership with the United Nations Human Settlement program (UN-Habitat) and Cities Alliance Liberia Country program (CALCP) is developing a National Urban policy for Liberia.

According to him, the ongoing support to GOL by CALCP and UN-Habitat in developing a NUP is a part of a broader endeavor aimed at poverty reduction and fostering sustainable and resilient Liberian cities.

At the same time, NUP Consultant, George Williams Nketsia said that the process is a coherent set of decisions derived through a deliberate, government –led process that will promote more transformative, productive, inclusive resilient urban development in long term.

“Developing the NUP for Liberia is expected to coordinate the work of different sectors, establish incentives for more sustainable practices and spur a balanced systems of cities and towns through strengthening urban –rural linkages and equitable resources allocation,” he said.  

Mr. Nketsia also elaborated that the diagnosis phase is the second most significant stage of the NUP development process.

He said the broad objective of the diagnosis phase is to engage with policy makers, national habitat Committee and Technical Support Team and various stakeholders, including local government, slum dwellers and urban poor, street vendors and other disadvantaged groups to deepen the finding from the feasibility phase.

 The diagnosis phase, he added is to identify and collect key evidence (regional specific data) that will form the foundation for policy choice and decision at the later formulation stage. The process of the diagnosis phase will also enhance policy coherence and integration, and strengthening policy making capacities of institutions.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nketsia disclosed that there is a National Urban forum (NUF) scheduled for November which is expected to attract more than 250 participants from across the country for a more interactive, participatory and inclusive national dialog on urban space.