Amnesty boss visits Kenya

June 10, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 10 – Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan has stressed the need to involve Kenyans in the making of policies aimed at eradicating poverty.

Ms Khan said on Wednesday that involving the ordinary Kenyan in key decision making processes was a key step to improving their livelihoods.

She further stressed the need for the government to bring the basic services like clean water and drainage closer to the people to make their lives more bearable.

“Poverty is man-made. It is as a result of policies that governments have promoted or business promotes. It is not something that just happens,” she explained.

“So one can change the situation of poverty by changing those same policies and behaviour.”

While lauding the adoption of the housing policy, the Amnesty International boss also emphasised the need to translate policies made to action.

“With the adoption of the housing policy, the government has taken some steps but basically what is not happening is change on the ground,” Ms Khan stated.

“Between addressing policies, setting up taskforces and actually people seeing a difference on the ground there is a big gap,” she said.

“That’s the gap that we feel can best be closed if people get involved.”

The Amnesty International boss kicked off her first high-level tour of the country earlier this week with a visit to Kibera and Deep Sea informal settlements in Nairobi, a city in which almost two million people live in slums.

Her itinerary includes a meeting with key civil society and government officials to discuss and present Amnesty International’s view on the broader human rights situation in Kenya.

She is also reviewing the state after the post-electoral violence. She is also expected to launch the first action of Amnesty International’s new global campaign ‘Demand Dignity’ focusing on Nairobi’s slums.

The Demand Dignity campaign action seeks to empower people living in poverty and take their voices to the highest level of government.

The opinion, collected in Kenya’s informal settlements through the SMS or through the web portal will be presented to the government on World Habitat Day.

The United Nations had earlier expressed fears that if the current urban poverty crisis is not addressed, it could lead to social unrest and political instability in cities.

UN-Habitat Executive Director, Anna Tibaijuka had stressed the need to expand the slum upgrading programme to deal with this looming threat.

Speaking at the first joint conference of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries, Mrs Tibaijuka said the UN would launch a global vulnerability alert collecting real-time information on the social effects of the economic crisis worldwide.

Housing Minister Soita Shitanda had said that although there is an estimated need of 150,000 new formal housing units annually in urban areas, only 30,000 are generated.


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