Now is the time to harness the transformative potential of urbanisation for the benefit of people and planet.
Today 55 per cent of the world’s population live in cities and towns and the number is growing every day. Urban October was launched by UN-Habitat in 2014 to emphasise the world’s urban challenges and engage the international community towards the New Urban Agenda.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, millions of people live in popular settlements, where streets without names and houses without numbers are invisible to the eyes of the State. The urgency of improving living conditions of those people has been brought to the fore by COVID-19. Access to clean water and sanitation, along with social distancing, were key responses to the pandemic. But this response to the virus cannot be implemented in slums, where most houses have no access to health services and entire families live in a confined space sharing the same bed. The measures imposed to limit the spread of the pandemic disproportionately affected people who work in the informal economy. These invisibilised people received no aid or assistance and had to choose contracting the virus or losing their jobs and not having the means to live.
United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said “when urban communities are engaged in policy and decision making and empowered the results are more inclusive and durable. Let’s put our communities at the heart of the cities of the future”. This is what TECHO does. TECHO volunteers are working together with the inhabitants of the popular settlements, empowering community leaders and creating the conditions for them to participate in decision-making processes that directly affect their lives. This Urban October they've committed to continue fighting for the communities so that people living in popular settlements can make their claims for a decent home and a formal location heard.
The World Habitat day, commemorated on the first Monday of October, remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities. The theme for this year’s World Habitat Day is accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world. However, create more sustainable, climate-resilient cities involves addressing a range of issues including poverty reduction, ensuring basic services livelihoods, the provision of accessible, affordable and adequate housing, investing in infrastructure, upgrading informal settlements and managing ecosystems.
On World Habitat Day Antonio Guterres called for heightened efforts to promote the cooperation, pro-poor policies, and regulations needed to improve housing in cities. As we strive to overcome the pandemic, address the fragilities and inequalities it has exposed, and combat climate change, now is the time to harness the transformative potential of urbanisation for the benefit of people and planet.
23 years, TECHO built more than 130,000 homes for the poorest and most marginalised communities in Latin America. These have transformed people's lives -providing safety and improving health conditions- and have resulted in greater community resilience. This year the World Habitat Organisation awarded TECHO with the Outstanding Contribution To Housing Award 2020 for its contribution to housing.
I'm honoured to be an active supporter of TECHO's incredible work. The NGO continuously informs their supporters and followers about the current issues, how they go about them, and not least, how their work actually pays off.
If you have a bit to spare on a monthly basis and consider supporting an organisation, I highly recommend TECHO. Over the years, I've supported various causes and organisations. I know the doubt that comes along with the selfless desire to support, as we often can't see where our money goes - but with TECHO I'm always updated about the progress and affection of their work. I'm in touch with several of their volunteers during the year, and I'm so grateful for their tremendous effort.
If you're interested in supporting TECHO, sign up here. You can always stay tuned about the cause of the month via my blog, where I give updates through my correspondences with their volunteers.
From TECHO and myself,
thank you so much for reading.
Lots of light,