Math­are slum in Nairo­bi, Kenya. Pho­to © UN-Habi­tat

Unit­ed Nations Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Ban Ki-moon says world lead­ers must give a voice to com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing in infor­mal set­tle­ments, as the UN marks World Habi­tat Day today, 6 Octo­ber 2014.

In a state­ment ahead of World Habi­tat Day (com­mem­o­rat­ed annu­al­ly on the first Mon­day in Octo­ber), Ki-moon said there was con­cern about grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties that endure often squalid con­di­tions as they migrate toward cities in order to survive.

In some parts of sub-Saha­ran Africa, as many as 70% of urban dwellers live in slums and infor­mal set­tle­ments. [They] live in near-anonymi­ty – no address, no cen­sus and no idea when their liv­ing con­di­tions will improve. They reg­u­lar­ly lack basic ser­vices such as water, san­i­ta­tion, elec­tric­i­ty and street light­ing. Crime is often endem­ic, with women and girls par­tic­u­lar­ly at risk. Unem­ploy­ment, under­em­ploy­ment and the cost of trans­port to dis­tant places of work add fur­ther hard­ship,” he said.

Ki-moon said it was cru­cial for pol­i­cy­mak­ers to give a voice to shack-dwellers, as their expe­ri­ences could help shape urban devel­op­ment in a sus­tain­able way.

In South Africa, the Nation­al Depart­ment of Human Set­tle­ments is mark­ing the day with the launch of a cam­paign to build homes for mil­i­tary vet­er­ans. Human Set­tle­ments Min­is­ter Lindi­we Sisu­lu said the depart­ment aims to build more than 5 000 homes over the next three years.

It is our inten­tion to clear the back­log of all mil­i­tary vet­er­ans who seek hous­es and shel­ter in less than three years. We will be launch­ing projects in all nine provinces; we want to build them decent hous­es to restore their dig­ni­ty and to hon­our their con­tri­bu­tion to our free­dom. This is a nation­al pri­or­i­ty,” the Min­is­ter said in a state­ment.

The UN esti­mates that there are already a bil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in slums across the world, with many like­ly to face the impact of cli­mate change, as their homes are unlike­ly to with­stand the effects of land­slides, floods and earthquakes.

UN Habi­tat has released a series of lec­tures on the way that the chal­lenge of infor­mal set­tle­ments is being tack­led across the world.

Watch the video below: