UN agency honours 2 for contributions to urban settlement issues

27 April 2004

A senior Iraqi official and the chair of an organization that promotes partnerships among those involved in water management have been honoured by the United Nations agency dealing with urban issues for their contributions in human settlements development.

A senior Iraqi official and the chair of an organization that promotes partnerships among those involved in water management have been honoured by the United Nations agency dealing with urban issues for their contributions in human settlements development.

Nasreen Mustafa Sideek Berwari, Minister for Municipalities and Public Works on Iraq's Governing Council, and Margaret Catley-Carlson, Chair of the Global Water Partnership and a former Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), were announced yesterday as the winners of the 2003 Habitat Scroll of Honour Awards given by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

Ms. Berwari was recognized for her commitment to the welfare of displaced and vulnerable persons in northern Iraq. Speaking at a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, she recalled that seven years ago this month, UN-Habitat had appointed her to head one of three offices it had opened in Iraqi Kurdistan to address the needs of more than 4,000 destroyed communities, including towns of more than 30,000 people.

Ms. Berwari said she was receiving the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour on behalf of all those who had worked closely with her and who had supported the work at the community level. It was also received on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of families that the reconstruction and resettlement had helped and who had participated in the projects. The programme had completed 25,000 housing units complete with water systems, schools, health centres, roads and other civic facilities.

Ms. Catley-Carlson, who was honoured for her contribution to placing water and sanitation on the global political agenda, said she had been trying to get the international community to understand the "silent emergencies" that were occurring because the world did not or could not take on the changes needed to face up to the fact that growing world population was reducing the per capita availability of water, the extraordinary growth rates of cities, and the enormous problems encountered by informal and peri-urban settlements in getting access to water and sanitation.

Such quiet emergencies were very difficult, in the sense that for the media to cover the fact that 6,000 children died each day was difficult because it all happened very separately and had been happening for a very long time, Ms. Catley-Carlson said. The continuing water and sanitation crisis was one of trachoma and other unnecessary diseases, like diarrhoea and cholera, which resulted from the lack of access to drinking water and the absence of the habit and availability of sanitation.

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