A self-organized civil-society initiative hosted 45 civil organization representatives this week at Kisumu, Kenya on 15–16 May to deliberate and consolidate messages to the Africities9 Summit. The Civil Society Forum took place in advance of the Africities 9 Summit (17–20 May 2020), also at Kisumu. The Summit is organized every three years by United Cities and Local Governments-Africa, gathering mayors, civil servants and interested stakeholders to discuss policies, programs and projects toward sustainable development across the continent. This year’s Summit was less welcoming of civil society participation than previous iterations, notably because of its prohibitive admission fees.
The Forum’s deliberations and outcome statements coincided with theme of the Summit, “The role of intermediary cities of Africa in the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Agenda 2030 and the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063.” The CSO Forum reviewed those commitments of states and their local constituent organs, as well as states’ relevant human right obligations under regional and international treaty. The statements combined these temporary and voluntary commitments with the legal obligations of states to guide recommendations for action.
Meeting before the Summit with support from the Kenya Commission for Human Rights, civil organizations and their representatives from Egypt, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa deliberated on the themes and principles of Summit’s concept note to drawn out priority issues that need urgent attention and remedy. These included debate on the agreed-upon priorities of social justice, the most-general of topics, as well as more-specific issues of local governance, namely stakeholder engagement, forced eviction, women’s political participation and affordable housing. The CSO Forum presented its recommendations to the Summit first in a press conference on 16 May, and elaborated them in messages inside the Summit on 20 May, calling for corrective policy and operational measures to remedy challenges and shortcomings in those fields.
Habitat International Coalition and its Housing and Land Rights Network, as well as Mazingira Institute, Pamoja Trust, Grassroots Trust and Community Organization Practitioners Association of Kenya (COPA-K), co-organized the session “Civil Society Speaks: Social Justice in African Cities“ within the Africities9 Summit, on 20 May, to deliver the CSO Forum messages.
For further details, see the CSO Forum statements to Africities9 at the links below: