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Urban policy confab begins today

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A major multi-stakeholders’ conference intended to develop a road map for the formulation of a National Urban Policy for Liberia gets underway in Monrovia today, Wednesday, June 24.

A release dated June 23 says over three hundred delegates from all fifteen counties including urban stakeholders, decision makers, technicians, urban managers and ordinary citizens, as well as international partners are expected to be in attendance during the two-day conference.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is expected to speak at the first national forum to craft Liberia’s Urban Policy, the release says.  The National Urban Forum, funded by Cities Alliance and UN-Habitat is being hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in collaboration with the Monrovia City Corporation and the Land Commission.

The National Urban Forum will, among other things, develop a road map for the formulation of a National Urban Policy, present the Monrovia City Program, build consensus on the city’s recovery and development strategy, endorse Liberia National Habitat Report, and showcase innovative tools in urban settlement profiling and slum upgrading from project experiences in Africa.

The Under- Secretary General of the United Nations & Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos, and Madam Clare Short, Senior Policy Advisor of Cities Alliance are also expected to grace the forum.

Urban governance in Liberia has not been given much policy and legal priority in the past. As a result, municipal authorities across the country are still largely unable to respond to urbanization challenges effectively or plan for future urban growth due to low capacity and poor resources.

The fragility of Liberia’s cities has recently been exposed by the Ebola outbreak that devastated urban populations, especially the vulnerable populations in Monrovia’s slum communities.  According to statistics, unplanned urbanization has resulted in the proliferation of slums, with an estimated 70% of Monrovia’s population currently living in slum conditions.

The 2008 National Housing and Population Census also estimated that 47% of Liberia’s population of 3.5 million resides in urban areas.-Press Release

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