World Habitat Day 2014 - ‘My house is my priority and responsibility’


‘My house is my priority and responsibility’ is the local theme to mark this year’s World Habitat Day which is being celebrated today.

In his message for the occasion, Land Use and Housing minister Christian Lionnet has said that all Seychellois can and need to take part in enhancing an inclusive housing development and its associated socio-economic services in a safe and healthy living environment.
The following is the full text of Minister Lionnet’s message:

“The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year for reflecting on one of the basic needs of life, a habitat. This year, World Habitat Day is being celebrated on October 6. It is a suitable occasion for world leaders, local decision makers, the civil society sector, the private sector and the population at large to reflect on the state of housing achievements, and to recognise and plan on strategies to overcome the multiplicity of challenges in providing this basic human right.

“Seychelles on its part has and continues to learn a lot from the experiences of the world, especially from bigger and prosperous nations on how to better administer the highly evolving and modernisation trends and techniques in real estate development. Equally, Seychelles can proudly teach the world on how to achieve sustainable housing development, and this is largely based on our history of active engagement in providing decent housing in an integrated manner to the vulnerable segment of our population. In Seychelles people just not only have access to a basic shelter, but the right to a decent permanent home.

“Despite our achievements, World Habitat Day still remains relevant for Seychelles as it an occasion for our population to be reminded of this noble but collective responsibility of providing and maintaining human habitat.  It allows us to take stock of our accomplishments and to set ourselves new stimulating targets.

“This year, The United Nations has chosen the theme ‘Voices from Slums’ to mark the occasion. It is intended to turn the spotlight on the people who live in informal settlements, and to raise awareness of life conditions in some critical and precarious areas of the planet which are tremendously crowded, with very poor or no water and sanitation facilities.  For such vulnerable populations there is no such thing as security of tenure.

“In Seychelles, since the early years after independence, the government has adopted a pragmatic and consistent approach to housing development based on strong socialist principles. Special vigour has been put on long term programmes for appropriate solution in tackling our housing shortages.  The government has remained focus on its aim to reach a position where the laws of supply and demand come into play fairly.  Today, over thirty years down the line, Seychelles’ ultimate aim for housing is not only to facilitate access, but for every Seychellois to own his or her house.Figures from the last Population and Housing Census (2010) reveal that in 2010, 71% of families in Seychelles own the houses they are living in. This make Seychelles ranked among the top countries in the world on par with the developed nations. Undoubtedly, this is an extraordinary improvement in our small country’s socio-economic development. This remarkable achievement has been catalysed by our strong principles and objectives to provide housing to our population. To date data shows that government has assisted over 10,500 Seychellois families directly with either a house or a housing loan.

“Consequently, it is thus not surprising that today when the world is focusing on improving the living conditions of the over 100 million slum dwellers worldwide, here in Seychelles we are thinking of the next generation housing schemes and land projects to further improve the quality of houses, and the efficiency of the process. As the world today take much precious time and money on efforts to solve the problems of slums, here in Seychelles we can proudly say that we have moved much beyond this stage. Our challenges are no longer the eradication of slums or improving water quality and improvement of basic infrastructure associated with low quality of life.  These we have dealt with decades ago.  We have moved much beyond that, and we are now looking into innovative partnerships to implement the future housing development goals, we are exploring ways and means of engaging the private sector, the civil society and the potential beneficiaries themselves to provide support to forward-thinking and alternative means for residential development. We are planning for the next generations, we are strategising on how to best develop our capital city, Victoria and the entire Seychelles for more prosperity for the next 40 years.
Thus, as alternative to the world theme, Seychelles have adopted a more practical theme to suit our local needs in our housing juncture.   The chosen theme is:  ‘My house is my priority and my responsibility’.   By choosing this theme Seychelles wants to send a strong message to the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape our future.  Thus, all Seychellois can and need to participate in enhancing an inclusive housing development and its associated socio-economic services in a safe and healthy living environment.

“As we reflect on the theme today, I urge every Seychellois without exception to become more conscious of your living conditions, your immediate environment or habitat, as well as to focus on potential solutions to your community problems and challenges. I want you all to take time to reflect on the progress our country has made to improve the housing conditions of our people, the new challenges you have placed on the stability of housing supply and demand in order to contain your evolving lifestyles.

“Let us all make the realisation of every Seychellois owning his or her home our priority and responsibility. Let us make housing development our daily business. While, the government continues to facilitate the process and provide the right conditions for investment in housing development, the private sector needs to be more engaged in complementing this effort. Let us discuss and find ways and means to effectively develop the housing sector to sustain our growing population and the demand from the employment sector.  Large land owners who are yet to take the advantage of the economic development of your properties, think of housing as a serious part of your future investments.

“The beneficiaries of a government constructed house now being managed by the Property Management Corporation (PMC), or the beneficiaries of a housing loan from Housing Finance Company (HFC), it is your responsibility to ensure that you respect your repayment terms and conditions and if you fail to do so you are preventing other Seychellois including your very own children from getting a house in the future.

“If you are on private rental you are equally preventing and discouraging the property-owners from investing further in housing, and, thus this will affect the future generations housing needs including that of your children.The social housing policy based on Home Saving Scheme (HSS) contribution should be considered and seen as a privileged opportunity to own a house, not an obstacle.So, let us commit ourselves to advance this vision in the construction of a more vibrant and prosperous Seychelles.

“I wish you all a nice Habitat Day which will be celebrated in Seychelles throughout this week of October.”




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