GIS - October 2, 2012: The Minister of Housing and Lands, Dr Abu Kasenally, urged students to enlist themselves in a habitat mission geared towards the elimination of poverty and homelessness in the country, and making decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.
Dr Kasenally made the appeal at a prize giving ceremony, held yesterday at Gold Crest Hotel, to reward primary and secondary schools students who took part, respectively, in painting/drawing competitions and essay competitions. The competitions were organised by the Ministry of Housing and Lands to mark World Habitat Day 2012 with the objective of creating awareness among young people on the importance of adequate housing for everyone. Some 57 students participated in the event.
The Minister highlighted the positive effects of safe and decent housing on the family’s health, physical safety, security and sense of dignity as well as in providing stability and adequate learning environment for children. Dr Kasenally listed the various schemes put forward by the Government to ensure affordable housing for all, such as grants for casting of roof slabs, building site leases, sale of ex-CHA sites to beneficiaries, integrated social housing projects and emergency houses for victims of natural calamities.
The Minister also recalled Government’s initiatives in addressing social housing gaps and ensuring that basic housing is provided to all needy families in Mauritius. The initiatives comprise negotiating 1,000 acres of land from the Mauritius Sugar Producers Association and the use of Corporate Social Responsibility Fund for approved social projects targeting vulnerable groups. Dr Kasenally added that a decent house is not only a basic necessity for every human but also a basic right which includes security of tenure and non-discrimination in relation to housing and preferential access to vulnerable groups.
According to the Minister, Mauritius is one of the rare countries where 88.8% of the households are house owners, the figures for rural areas standing at 93% and 83% in urban regions. He stated that the way forward now is the development of a human settlement approach based on physical and social environment, participation of beneficiaries, development of local economy and capacity building of state services for social housing.
World Habitat Day, an initiative of the United Nations, is commemorated each year since 1985 on the first Monday of October. Its main objectives are to encourage reflection on the state of towns and cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter as well as to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. The theme for this year’s celebration Many Homes, One Community stresses the vital role that decent and affordable housing plays in community stabilization and development.