The UN-Habitat in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and Cities Alliance, have underscored the importance of national urban policy that will promote transformative, productive, inclusive and resilient urban development for the country.
The calls for the timely urban policy was made on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 during a National Urban Forum (NUF) aims to advance the agenda for sustainable urbanization in Liberia. The forum, which is funded by Cities Alliance and UN-Habitat, was hosted by authorities at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).
Remy Sietchiping, Chief of Regional and Metropolitan Planning Unit of Urban Planning and Design Branch of UN Human Settlements Program, based in Nairobi, Kenya, spoke of UN-Habitat preparedness to assist Liberia.
“As a UN agency, we are always happy to assist member states and Liberia is of no exception, because this policy will help the country with its urban affairs initiative. We have seen the quest and excitements from the people of Liberia towards this policy,” Mr. Sietchiping said.
He said that UN-Habitat has changed its programming by moving ahead to help cities without policy to be enacted, especially working with partners, including Cities Alliance.
Mr. Sietchiping said the UN-Habitat is not expecting for the government to start the implementation of policy crafted, particularly the urban policy, but partners and citizens.
He said the role of the media is pivotal in the implementation of the urban policy, especially encouraging citizens and government partners in the execution of the policy.
He added, “The urban policy, if enacted, will create coordination among different stakeholders, and hope that government and partners will stay engaged.”
According to UN-Habitat, the National Urban Policy (NUP), is a coherent set of decisions derived through a deliberate, government-led process of coordinating, and rallying various actors for a common vision, and goal that will promote more transformative, productive, inclusive and resilient urban development in the long term.
The day-long event brought together partners, including representatives from some of the youth organizations, women leadership, mayors of other cities, among them Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Koijee.
The forum was held to appraise stakeholders on the state of the national urban policy development process in Liberia, and seek inputs and commitments to ensure timely completion of the diagnosis phase of the country’s NUP.
Momolu Johnson, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Administration, described the NUP as cardinal for the country’s transformation.
“We need to urgently engage in strategies planning for us to move with the country urban agenda. This NUP is very timely to assist us put things into place and move the country in positive direction. The collaboration with Cities Alliance and UN-Habitat remains a great partnership to help Liberia achieve greatly,” Mr. Johnson said.
He said the lack of policy implementation has haunted Liberia for years, and it is time to transition to full policy execution, especially with Cities Alliance.
Johnson added, “It is time for us to use partnership to turn things around for the good of everyone.”
“Again, in previous years, lots of preference has been given to the urban sector, and it is time to move to the leeward counties because, we cannot keep focusing on Monrovia to promote urbanization,” he said.
Famater Roesler, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Urban Affairs, called on stakeholders to craft policy that will promote urbanization with key focus on all cities in the country.
“We believe that with the NUP, it will be a great help for Liberia, because it is through that partners can have documents as working tools for the various cities,” Madam Roesler said.
William Cobbett, Director for Cities Without Slums Alliance of Cities Alliance at the UN House in Brussels, Belgium, called on government and partners to focus on all cities, and residents to achieve the NUP’s goal.
“The NUP, if crafted, will allow government and partners to take development to the least developed county to address social and economic issues, including youth employment,” Cobbett added.
The Liberia Urban Context
Liberia’s urban population in 2008 comprised 47% of the total population of 3.5 million with an annual urban population growth rate of 4.7%. Estimates now suggest that out of a total population of approximately four million, more than half of the population (2.1 million) resides in urban areas.
Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, has felt the greatest impact of urbanization in Liberia. The civil strife of the 1990s expanded the population of the city to more than 1 million by 2010.