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World Habitat Day

The United Nations (UN) World Habitat day is annually celebrated on the first Monday of October to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities. It also aims to remind people that they are responsible for the habitat of future generations.

The theme of World Habitat Day 2020 is: Housing For All: A better Urban Future, and the Global Observance will be hosted by the city of Surabaya, in Indonesia.

This year’s pandemic has had a terrible impact on people in cities, towns, and communities. World Habitat Day 2020 offers an important opportunity to reflect on the effect of the COVID-19 crisis, and also how we can shape the future of human settlements to make them more resilient.

Housing is a human right and a catalyst for all other fundamental rights. Having an adequate home or shelter is now, more than ever, a matter of life and death and is an essential condition for living in dignity as COVID-19 continues to spread, people have been told to stay at home, but this simple measure is impossible for people who do not have adequate housing or shelter.

At the same time, COVID-19 has reminded us that home is much more than just a roof. To make us feel safe and enable us to continue living, working and learning, a home needs to be secure, to allow us to access basic services and infrastructure for hygiene measures and to have enough room for physical distancing.

Inclusive, affordable and adequate housing is the key to the sustainable transformation of our cities and communities. With the increase of extreme weather events, housing for all contribute to building the resilience of communities and cities to climate change.

According to SDG 11, they are aiming for resilient, inclusive, safe, diverse cities by 2030 and one of the targets is access to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services for all by 2030 and the upgrading of slums. As Soroptimists, we work on the lines of SDG’s and raise our voices for better habitation for the communities.

An estimated 1.8 billion people were already living in slums and informal settlements, inadequate housing or in homelessness in our cities worldwide before the pandemic began. Some 3 billion people lack basic hand-washing facilities. This means millions of people worldwide are more likely to experience poor health due to the absence of basic services and exposure to multiple socio-economic and environmental hazards. COVID-19 has spread in areas where people lack adequate housing, and are faced with inequalities and poverty. The COVID-19 crisis is showing how success comes from collaboration and is giving new momentum to the idea that ensuring housing rights for all is a shared responsibility. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the power of communities and people’s ability to adapt and find local and innovative solutions.

The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of a people-centred approach as housing is as vital for the character, shape and socio-economic vibrancy of cities as it is to public health outcomes. Housing is the building block of people’s health, dignity, safety, well-being and inclusion. Adequate housing is a first line of defence against a number of health risks. It helps reduce the spread of diseases and enables people to follow sanitary protocols.

The UN Habitat Scroll of Honour Award is currently the most prestigious human settlements award in the world.

According to Maslows theory, shelter is placed as No. 2 in the pyramid and is stated as one of the primary and basic needs of any human being.

Anitha Rajarajan
Incoming APD Planet