Nairobi, 01 November 2020 — As the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel Zone sharply deteriorates, the Government of Denmark, in partnership with the Government of Germany, the European Union and the United Nations, recently hosted a high-level ministerial round table on the Central Sahel. UN-Habitat was invited to share a video-message and host a side-event, focusing on “Durable Solutions for Displacement in the Central Sahel: The role of local governments for improved Urban Services”.
The objective of the session was to highlight the role of local actors for durable solutions to displacement in the Central Sahel, highlighting their role for the provision of basic urban services. Panellists, including local and international experts and UN agencies, shared their perspectives and experiences, including insights on challenges, lessons learned and good practices. With many displaced seeking refuge in urban areas, local authorities are in the forefront of crisis response and often, the rapid influx of additional people put strains on already scare resources, with cities and town in the Sahel having doubled in population and expansion over the last months.
While it is eminent to support humanitarian needs, a long-term vision — the humanitarian-development-peace nexus — needs to be advanced, as global experiences show that displacement is becoming more and more protracted and many displaced remain for an average of two decades. The IASC framework on Durable Solutions underlines that voluntary return and resettlement in other parts of the country are two options, but in protracted displacement contexts, local integration and fostering social cohesion between communities is crucial. Ms Christine Knudsen, UN-Habitat’s Director of Emergencies, underlined that this needs good planning, cross-sectoral and integrated approaches, and — as most displaced move to urban areas — increased capacity in urban planning and effective management, in particular regarding basic services such as water, sanitation, energy, education and health services, waste management as well as adequate housing and livelihood opportunities. Rapid urban growth — due to climate change impacts and men-made hazards – puts stress on urban systems and increases the competition on natural resources (e.g. land, water, wood …) with social, economic and environmental implications for both local and displaced communities.
Source: UN Human Settlements Program