The Minister of Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, Colonel Samuela Saumatua officially launched Fiji's Rapid Urban Sector Profiling for the Greater Suva area, Nadi and Lautoka on Thursday 3 June. In his opening address the Minister highlighted concerns for the sharp increase in the national squatter population (from approx 45,000 in 1999 to 100,000 in 2007) and the implications this had for urban resource management. The Acting Permanent Secretary in her address remarked that it was not a farfetched concept of squatters accounting for over 50% of Fiji's urban population in 2020 if the situation remained unaddressed.
The urban profiling exercise (with the support of UN-HABITAT and the EU through the Participatory Settlement Upgrading Programme) will play an important role in assisting the Ministry and its implementation partners (councils, community, NGOs, the University of the South Pacific) to gather and analyse information to better understand the state of environment under the jurisdictions of the local government and municipal councils. The detailed socio-economic and physical surveys on settlement conditions will support the Department of Housing's national squatter programme and provide feasibility studies for selected upgrading pilot projects.
Also present were the 42 volunteer 'urban profilers' who completed an intensive training on profiling tools and their implication. They will be undertaking the month long settlement surveys under the guidance of the Ministry's technical staff. The survey period shall run over a period of 4 weeks culminating in a write-shop to build technical skills and refine the preliminary draft profiles; which will be further enriched through in-depth analysis by experts from the University of the South Pacific. The draft profiles will also be made available for public comments and inputs, and disseminated through city and national consultations to raise awareness on the importance of sustainable urbanisation.
The Launch was attended by senior staff from the Ministry, representatives from the Greater Suva, Nadi and Lautoka councils, NGOs and the urban profiling practioners.
For further information please contact the Director of the Department of Town and Country Planning, Ministry of Local Government, Urban Development, Housing & Environment.
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