The day was designated by the United Nations in 1985 to bring global awareness about the basic right to shelter.
Every year the first Monday of October is marked as World Habitat Day, which aims at promoting awareness about the basic right of all to have shelter. The day is also used to take stock of the state of our towns and cities.
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The day was designated by the United Nations in 1985 to bring global awareness about the basic right to shelter as well as growing concerns over urban sprawl, homelessness, and other issues surrounding cities and towns. The first World Habitat Day was marked in Nairobi, Kenya the following year. The first day had a theme of ‘Shelter is My Right’. Other annual themes were like ‘Housing Policies: Affordable Housing’ in 2017, ‘Cities and Climate Change’ (2011), ‘Water and Sanitation for Cities’ in 2003, and ‘Cities without Slums’ (2001).
The day’s events aim to help people, policymakers and the government understand that having a safe place to live is a basic right that can help people get access to better opportunities in life. It is estimated that nearly 150 million people are homeless across the world with 1.7 million homeless individuals in India.
It is estimated that the real number is much higher, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic which saw many people losing their livelihood and being pushed into poverty. As a result of the large demand for housing, there has been an explosion in the construction of shanty towns that are built without proper planning. As a result, these shanty towns can result in cities becoming more marginalised where social inequality becomes part of the city’s structure.
The theme for World Habitat Day 2022 is “Mind the Gap. Leave No One and Place Behind”, which aims to bring focus to the growing inequalities and vulnerabilities caused as a result of COVID-19, conflict and climate change.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)