3 October 2016, Yangon - World Habitat Day, with the theme: Housing at the Centre, was celebrated in Myanmar as the Myanmar Government makes affordable housing a priority.
On 2 October 2016, UN Habitat representatives joined members of communities from a slum area in Hlaing Tharyar Township in Yangon’s periphery, who had organised a World Habitat Day celebration to draw attention to their lives. Visiting guests, including Members of Parliament, NGOs, and academics, were treated to a cultural and traditional dances from the Ayarwaddy Region from where many had migrated in the aftermath of natural disasters. Slum community members spoke of their needs and aspirations, including their biggest issue of the lack of security of shelter.
The community called for the Government to avoid slum evictions and to work with the urban poor in developing housing projects; these messages were upheld by UN Habitat Country Programme Manager Mr Bijay Karmacharya. UN-Habitat, Myanmar is regular in dialogue with the authorities of Yangon city for possible alternative solutions for the slums and squatting communities other than forcible evictions. UN Habitat is also supporting the Government in its renewed efforts to find adequate and appropriate housing for all, and organised an International Conference on Affordable Housing on 3 October to mark World Habitat Day. Conference participants numbering over a hundred heard from a range of regional experiences emphasising the importance of partnerships and a range of housing delivery methods, including from Thailand, India, and Cambodia. The presentations and discussions at the conference – with representatives from the Ministry of Construction, Yangon City Development Committee, civil society includin the Myanmar Engineering Society and Association of Myanmar Architects, and international development agencies – is sure to promote an understanding of housing affordability as an underlying issue of formation of slum like communities as Myanmar continues on its historic transformation leading to economic growth.