GOVERNMENT has reaffirmed its commitment to address the housing deficit in the country that is currently standing at about 1.5 million. Local Government and Housing Minister Vincent Mwale said this when he delivered Zambia’s statement at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador. Mr Mwale said Zambia is currently reviewing the National Housing Policy of 1996, and the housing implementation strategy to address the housing deficit and align the policy to the global demands of greener and smarter housing. “Like many other countries, Zambia has been greatly affected by rapid urbanisation, with an estimated 40 percent of the national population living in urban areas and is projected to increase to 60 percent by 2050. “This is going to represent a five times growth in absolute numbers, hence posing more challenges in terms of proper planning, housing provision, unplanned settlements, unemployment and provision of basic services such as water supply, sanitation, solid waste management and mobility among many other issues,” Mr. Mwale said. Mr Mwale said Zambia had in the last five years seen unprecedented infrastructure development of roads, schools and hospitals, as well as creation of new districts under the decentralised framework. “Zambia is responding to urban development challenges including a chapter on inclusive cities in the Seventh National Development Plan (SNDP) which, is coming into effect in 2017,” Mr Mwale said. According to a statement by First Secretary for Press and Public Relations at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations, Chibaula Silwamba, Mr Mwale explained that Zambia was reviewing the spatial planning legislation which had resulted in the repeal of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1963 and the Housing (Statutory and Improvement) Areas Act of 1974. Mr Mwale said: “Development of the city wide slum upgrading strategy is meant to address and control the unplanned urban settlements, review of the water and sanitation policy to improve the provision of water and sanitation to the citizens.” He said Zambia had partnered with the US Government to improve the water supply and sanitation situation in Lusaka through the Millennium Challenge Account. “To attain the global community’s aspirations for the 2030 agenda and sustainable housing, fundamental issues that affect the sustainable housing and urban development are critical. These include among others: access to land, security of land tenure and upgrading of informal settlements; establishment of urban and territorial sustainable transport infrastructure and service funds at the national level,” Mr Mwale said. The Habitat III Conference is expected to adopt the New Urban Agenda, which would be an action-oriented document on achieving sustainable urban development, rethinking the way to build, manage, and live in cities.