United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)


UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.


Cities are facing unprecedented demographic, environmental, economic, social and spatial challenges. There has been a phenomenal shift towards urbanization, with 6 out of every 10 people in the world expected to reside in urban areas by 2030. Over 90 per cent of this growth will take place in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In the absence of effective urban planning, the consequences of this rapid urbanization will be dramatic. In many places around the world, the effects can already be felt: lack of proper housing and growth of slums, inadequate and out-dated infrastructure – be it roads, public transport, water, sanitation, or electricity – escalating poverty and unemployment, safety and crime problems, pollution and health issues, as well as poorly managed natural or man-made disasters and other catastrophes due to the effects of climate change.


Mindsets, policies, and approaches towards urbanization need to change in order for the growth of cities and urban areas to be turned into opportunities that will leave nobody behind. UN-Habitat, the United Nations programme for human settlements, is at the helm of that change, assuming a natural leadership and catalytic role in urban matters.


Mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1978 to address the issues of urban growth, it is a knowledgeable institution on urban development processes, and understands the aspirations of cities and their residents. For close to forty years, UN-Habitat has been working in human settlements throughout the world, focusing on building a brighter future for villages, towns, and cities of all sizes. Because of these four decades of extensive experience, from the highest levels of policy to a range of specific technical issues, UN-Habitat has gained a unique and a universally acknowledged expertise in all things urban. This has placed UN-Habitat in the best position to provide answers and achievable solutions to the current challenges faced by our cities. UN-Habitat is capitalizing on its experience and position to work with partners in order to formulate the urban vision of tomorrow. It works to ensure that cities become inclusive and affordable drivers of economic growth and social development.


UN-Habitat Goal

UN-Habitat envisions well-planned, well-governed, and efficient cities and other human settlements, with adequate housing, infrastructure, and universal access to employment and basic services such as water, energy, and sanitation. To achieve these goals, derived from the Habitat Agenda of 1996, UN-Habitat has set itself a medium-term strategy approach for each successive six-year period. The current strategic plan spans from 2014 to 2019.


Current trends of rapid urbanization – with over half of the world’s population now living in cities, and 90% of urban growth taking place in developing countries – coupled with recent global economic turmoil, growing poverty, and rising consequences of climate change have created the need for such strategic readjustments.


After a recent and successful reorganization of its internal structure to improve efficiency and to optimize the use of its resources, UN-Habitat is presently addressing its mandate through the 2014-2019 Strategic Plan. The plan outlines seven focus areas:

  • Urban legislation, land, and governance,

  • Urban planning and design,

  • Urban economy,

  • Urban basic services,

  • Housing and slum upgrading,

  • Risk reduction and rehabilitation, and

  • Research and capacity development.


UN-Habitat Experience in Sudan

Since 2005 has been working in the Eastern States, Khartoum, Blue Nile and Darfur States provide clues for innovative approaches creating alternatives to settle low income communities. In Eastern Sudan, UN Habitat carried out a project (SOLSES) for promoting equitable access to sustainable basic services by refugee and refugee-hosting communities through rapid and tangible interventions and effective involvement of CBOs, NGOs and local administrations, building on their capacities to rehabilitate and sustain community services.

In Khartoum UN-Habitat implemented projects (EC and Italian Cooperation) with the overriding objective of eradicating urban poverty through effective urban planning and pro - poor policies which have become a major instrument in reengineering the public sector institutions to respond to new demands created by the forces of urbanization and to redirect the energies of the urban poor to support construction of self-help housing, health and education facilities in a poor settlements of the Khartoum state using environmental friendly and cost effective technology.


In Darfur UN-Habitat has implemented a Preparatory Programme which aimed at long-term shelter, community infrastructure and land tenure recovery programme in the three states of Darfur. The Programme enabled critical mass of men and women to adopt, adapt and implement ‘woodless’ building techniques utilizing Stabilized Soil Block (SSB) Technology for reconstruction of self-help housing (for handicapped, IDP households headed by women and IDP orphan), education and health facilities and other community infrastructure. UN-Habitat has recently completed an Institutional Capacity Development in Darfur on Urban and Regional Planning and Land Management Project with the objective of developing the capacity of the local government of the five states of Darfur for tackling the rapid urbanisation process observed in the region due to the elevated numbers of displaced people and the on-going urban re-integration dynamics. This, in addition to a number of projects focusing on construction of self-help low cost housing for IDPs and construction of 12 Health Facilities in rural areas.


UN-Habitat is currently working in Blue Nile state on Participatory and Gender-Balanced Urban and Regional Planning, Land Management, Environmental-Friendly Construction and Sustainable Livelihoods project, and a second project on Peace Building in Darfur through Resource Management and livelihoods along 115 km migration route in Southern Darfur, in addition to a project to Improving Access to Health Services in Northern Darfur-Kutum Locality.