ARC Briefing Note on the Outcomes of the Third Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development
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22-24 NOVEMBER 2010


Africa is the world’s fastest urbanizing region, with current trends showing that 90% of new developments in cities occur in slums. Considering that the majority of Africa’s population lives in cities, urban land is central for any strategy to improve conditions and achieve sustainable development. There is a wide recognition that urban lands are the most profitable, dynamic, contentious, valuable, sought after, and yet less regulated (informal land market) whereby vested interests are tapping into the niche at the expense of the poor and the public benefits. Evidence shows that rapid concentration and movements in African cities increase conflicts over lands.

In 2003 the second session of the African Union Assembly adopted Decision 29 on urbanization and chaotic urban growth in Africa, in which Heads of State and Government called for a coordinated African response to the challenges of urbanization.

The African Ministers Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD) was established in 2005, as the main consultative mechanism on the promotion of sustainable development of human settlements in Africa. AMCHUD is the primary intergovernmental vehicle for governments to improve African cities, enabling them to realize their full potential as centers of hope and prosperity for their peoples, rather than as concentrations of deprivation and squalor. AMCHUD provides a continent-wide platform to share ideas, exchange best practice and discuss effective strategies to achieve sustainable urbanization in Africa.

MANDATE: AMCHUD’s vision is to serve as a consultative mechanism on the promotion of the sustainable development of human settlements in Africa. Its mission is to develop, facilitate and co-ordinate a common African Position on issues of sustainable urban development and human settlements in Africa.

The Inaugural Conference of AMCHUD held in February 2005, in Durban, South Africa adopted the Durban Declaration to institutionalize AMCHUD under auspices of the African Union. The meeting also adopted the Enhanced Framework of Implementation, which provides the basis for a concerted and a coordinated programme of action focusing on: slums, shelter delivery, and the provision of and access to basic services for all; urbanization and human settlements within the Framework of the African Union’s Strategic Plan and the NEPAD Programme; governance and urban development; and financing for housing and urban development. Under the Enhanced Framework, AMCHUD will, inter alia:

  • serve as a forum to discuss the urban challenge at the continental level and regional level as a basis for national and city level strategies and as a focus for the discussion of the Habitat Agenda and the relevant Millennium Development Goals and Targets;
  • encourage and promote the strengthening of urban governance in Africa;
  • champion and support innovative urban development and land management practices in Africa;
  • promote development of appropriate housing and low-cost construction technology for rural and urban housing;
  • facilitate South-South and international exchanges of expertise, research, experience and best practices, including on the eradication of slums;
  • develop a better understanding of urban land dynamics that can lead to improved land tenure and to the growth of urban land markets in Africa;
  • support and strengthen the NEPAD Cities Initiative;
  • support relief and rehabilitation of shelter and human settlements development in post-conflict and post-disaster situations;
  • engage with development partners and multi-laterals on urban development issues in Africa and their financing;
  • promote strong ties between research institutions to understand better the economic, legal and financial importance of urban development and urban land in Africa;
  • encourage the collection of data and information that can improve the planning and management of urban development;
  • promote the institutionalization of a culture for urban planning  including the preparation of urban strategic plans at both national and local authority level; and
  • encourage the mobilization of domestic financial resources for housing and urban development.

STRUCTURE: AMCHUD comprises a Biennial Ministerial Conference, a Bureau, and Secretariat. The Biennial Ministerial Conference, comprising Ministers responsible for Housing and Urban Development, will normally meet after every two years to consult and review progress on the promotion of sustainable development of Human settlements in Africa. Mali is the current Chair of AMCHUD. The AMCHUD Bureau (2010-2012) comprises of West Africa: represented by Togo; North Africa: represented by Morocco; Central Africa: represented by the Central African Republic; and Eastern Africa: represented by Uganda; and Southern Africa: represented by Zambia, and also Rapporteur of the Bureau. The Durban Declaration requested the African Union to mainstream issues of housing and urban development in the structure of the African Union by establishing a Specialized Technical Committee for the sector, including rendering related political and other forms of support to AMCHUD and giving a high prominence to the challenges of urban development in the NEPAD programme.



This section summarizes the recommendations of AMCHUD, and their related action points.


Participants in Working Group One discussed various challenges Africa faces with regards to sustainable urbanization including governance and administration problems resulting from rapid urbanization, huge population concentrations in large cities, the marginalization of women and vulnerable groups in land access and security of tenure, and inadequate development and implementation of policies.

Recommendations: Participants called for measures to:

  • promote affirmative action in addressing the plight of women and vulnerable groups;
  • decentralize land services;
  • create institutional mechanisms and enabling conditions for governments, non-state actors and other development partners to work together successfully;
  • prioritize land banking, inclusive and pro-poor planning, planning for growth and the promotion of greater efficiencies in the urban context;
  • capitalize on cities as national economic drivers; and
  • utilize the wealth-producing capacities of cities through shared objectives among the wide variety of urban stakeholders.

Action Points: Participants called for:

  • organizing an international conference on security of tenure and access to shelter for all;
  • Governments to promote security of tenure for all by identifying intermediate tenure arrangements, besides individual titling, to facilitate people living in informal settlements access to land and security of tenure;
  • developing land administration systems based on cost effective technologies and the human resource realities of Africa;
  • anchoring land interventions in land governance frameworks by emphasizing technical solutions and improving land governance;
  • legislating and enforcing new laws to improve women’s and vulnerable groups’ access to land and to secure their property rights; and
  • developing land and human settlement strategies to address the needs of Internally Displaced Persons and refugees in regards to land and property rights.


Discussions in Working Group Two focused on overlapping land rights and systems, legal and institutional pluralism, insecurity of tenure, conflicts over land and land-based resources, colonial legacies, migration and rapid urbanization. Participants also discussed the increased threat of climate change and environmental degradation to urban development. In addition, they underscored the importance of developing integrated land policies recognizing all land sectors and stakeholders.

Recommendations: They recommended that Governments:

  • facilitate the development and implementation of participatory land policies;
  • promote the implementation of the Land Policy Initiative (LPI) Framework and Guidelines;
  • build capacity to support land policy development, implementation, and monitoring;
  • establish functional and transparent land administration systems in collaboration with regional institutions to ensure access to land information;
  • support the implementation of the recommendations from the UN-Habitat’s State of African Cities report; and
  • consider the need to allocate adequate budgetary resources for land policy development, implementation and monitoring.

Action Points: Participants called for:

  • Africa to develop or overhaul their land policies and land laws in line with the guidelines set out in the LPI;
  • Governments to collaborate with Regional Economic Commissions to pilot a regional observatory of land, to monitor the implementation of urban land policy, land administration and land information.
  • AMCHUD to support the LPI and mobilize additional resources for its implementation and conduct a regional or sub-regional study on institutional and environmental frameworks of land management; and
  • LPI partners to conduct feasibility studies for the establishment of a fund to promote land policy development, implementation and collaboration with Regional Economic Commissions.

On Capacity Building on Land they called for inter alia:

  • the design and implementation of innovative human resources and capacity development programmes appropriate for the new land governance and urbanization challenges.
  • organizing, with the Regional Economic Commissions, capacity building sessions and training of trainers on urban land management, land administration and information;  and
  • establishing regional and sub-regional fora to share and disseminate good practices.


Participants in Working Group Three discussed inter alia land, housing, delivery systems, environment, climate change, urban planning and other related subjects. They highlighted common challenges in these areas including the rate of slum formation, lack of baseline information to support policy decisions, occupation of vulnerable land and sites, and the high cost of building materials. Participants also discussed the need to review building codes and standards and the necessity of resettlement programmes for vulnerable households.

Recommendations: Participants recommended measures in a number of areas. On Land and Housing, they called for:

  • countries to improve access to housing sector information for the purposes of policy development;
  • Governments to work with financial institutions to make housing finance affordable and accessible to lower income groups;
  • countries to review their building codes and norms to enable the use of local building materials and environmentally sound technologies to reduce housing production costs; and
  • Government intervention in the delivery and management of housing to allow for alternatives to individually produced housing, such as housing cooperatives and building material loans.

On Urban Planning, they called for:

  • capacity building to equip local governments, cities and planning departments cope with the rapid urbanization in Africa;
  • promoting participatory methods of planning and urban management;
  • promoting social mixes in cities and neighborhoods  to achieve social diversity and equity in service delivery; and
  • establishing a national urban forum to enable information sharing and advocacy in matters related to urban planning.

On Climate Change, participants called for:

  • encouraging climate change assessments in African cities, including adaptation and mitigation aspects with emphasis on land use and planning related issues;
  • promoting public transport and mass transportation systems that include non-motorized transport and providing space for pedestrians and other non-motorized means of transport; and
  • international agencies to facilitate access to climate change mitigation and adaptation financing for cities.

Action Points: On Land and Housing, participants called for African Ministers to:

  • establish a national task force to collect land and housing indicators that will feed into housing policy decisions and enhance knowledge about the housing sector;
  • create a national task force to review current housing policy and agree on priority actions;
  • undertake a review of their regulatory frameworks, building codes and planning norms  to release more land for housing; and
  • organize a regional meeting involving the African Union for Housing Finance, Shelter Afrique, African Development Bank and UN-HABITAT to discuss the future of housing finance in Africa.

On Land and Urban Planning, participants called for:

  • strengthening the capacity of planners, policy makers, professionals and other actors, including improving the relevance of curriculums to the urban challenges of Africa;
  • promoting broad-based participation in large-scale urban programmes; and
  • creating National Urban Forums composed of sustainable urban development actors, to enhance advocacy, coordination and informed urban policy making.

On Land and Climate Change, they called for:

  • supporting cities to carry out climate change assessments and explore adaptation and mitigation options, with special attention to land related issues;
  • through land suitability studies, avoiding settlement in flood-prone and other environmentally fragile areas and make sustainable use of urban wetlands as flood buffers and ecosystem services;
  • increasing urban densities through the intensification of land use and through introducing different housing and subdivision typologies, in order to reduce the cost of infrastructure investment, urban footprint, demand for mobility and energy use;
  • integrating public transport and non-motorized transport components in major road investments; and
  • international agencies to facilitate the access of cities to climate change mitigation and adaptation financing.


In the Bamako Declaration on Housing and Urban Development, the African ministers:

  • decide on the composition and membership of the Bureau with Mali as Chair and Nigeria as Co-Chair. Morocco, Togo and the Central African Republic, Uganda and Zambia are chosen as Vice-Chairs with the alternate members being Algeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Tanzania and Mozambique respectively;
  • request UN-HABITAT to host the Secretariat on an interim basis and while consultations for this are being pursued, appreciate the continuing hosting of the Secretariat by South Africa;
  • request the incoming bureau to expedite the  finalization of AMCHUD institutional arrangement and to provide an update at a consultation meeting of AMCHUD members, to be held in Nairobi in April 2011;
  • commit to contribute to AMCHUD’s budget US$10,000 annually per member state;
  • request the Secretariat to submit a budget for consideration at the Nairobi consultation meeting;
  • resolve to implement the Bamako Action Plan that outlines key decisions taken during the proceedings of this meeting and recommends concrete actions to be taken by national governments, the AMCHUD Bureau and Secretariat, and UN-HABITAT;
  • to apprise their respective Heads of States and Governments of the outcome of third session of AMCHUD and to take appropriate measures to implement the Bamako Action Plan; and
  • accept the invitation of the Government of Kenya for holding the next ordinary session of AMCHUD in February 2012 at a venue to be determined.
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The ARC Briefing Note on the Outcomes of the Third Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <>. This issue was written by Kate Louw. The Editor is Dorothy Nyingi. The ARC Briefing Note Series is part of IISD Reporting Service’s African Regional Coverage (ARC) Project in partnership with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), the UN Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Africa (UNEP ROA), and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. The Programme Manager of the African Regional Coverage Project is Kate Louw <>. The opinions expressed in the Briefing Note are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Briefing Note may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. An electronic version of the Briefing Note is sent to the AFRICASD-L distribution list (in HTML format) and can be found on the Linkages website at <>. For information on the Briefing Note, including requests to provide Reporting Services, contact the Africa Programme Manager <> or Director of IISD Reporting Services <>, or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022, USA.

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