Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama this morning addressed the participatory slum upgrading programme high-level networking luncheon in Nairobi, Kenya.
Speaking at the event PM Bainimarama called on world leaders to recognise informal settlers in their countries and grant them a sense of ownership over their communities.
” We’re implementing a rights-based approach; one that doesn’t rely on confrontation or the forceful uprooting of communities. We recognise that we share the same goals as these informal settlers to mainstream them into our economy, allowing them to become bigger parts of our national life and bigger players in our national development.”
Mr Bainimarama added that the Fijian Government has embarked on a nationwide effort to regularise our informal settlements, granting secure land tenure to their inhabitants. We’ve explored options that make more effective use of limited land while reducing development costs, such as strata titles and urban planning, with the help of targeted partners like the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise. And we’re not only creating housing, but entire ecosystems –– with amenities like markets, food stalls, town centres, and local schools readily available.
“While it may be a matter of mere semantics, in Fiji, we use the term “informal settlement” quite intentionally, as we found words like “slum” –– and even sometimes “squatter” –– to be both politically-charged and dehumanising. It’s an important distinction to make, because it guides how we’ve dealt with the issue in Fiji.”
“Like many of you here today, know that buildings and roads alone won’t solve this issue –– this has been tried, and failed, all too often. Any plan is incomplete without considering the need for change at the cultural and social levels; we need to give our informal settlers a sense ownership over their communities. Ownership grants confidence. Confidence fuels investment, and investment builds resilience.”
He added that the Fijian government is enabling the informal settlers with the security, tools and incentives that they need to invest in their homes and communities.
He says that the Fiji First Government will permanently put an end to temporary lifestyles, these settlers need to be active participants in the upgrading of their lives, their homes and their communities.
” No matter what label we give them, the world’s informal settlements must be approached proactively, and through a lens of human dignity, to make meaningful progress. “