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Webinar address homelessness on a global scale
​EThekwini Municipality and CIFAL Durban in partnership with UNITAR and CIFAL York hosted a webinar to discuss interventions for the homeless during the Covid-19 pandemic. The webinar aimed to raise awareness about homelessness while focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 11: Human Settlements, Resilient, Safe and Inclusive Cities.

The webinar aimed to encourage stakeholders around steps to deal with challenges regarding the homeless. Municipal political leadership and management, officials from government departments, professionals from different organisations, as well as lecturers from academic institutions were part of the discussion.

Chairperson of the Finance, Security and Emergency Services Committee Councillor Diana Hoorzuk said the webinar reinforced that the challenge of homelessness must be addressed holistically. “It cannot be resolved without policy provisions, good partnerships and an adequate budget,” she said. Estrella Merlos, Associated Head of the CIFAL Global Network and Head of Road Safety Global Training Initiatives (UNITAR) said homelessness is a global phenomenon prevalent in many cities across the world.

She said webinars assisted various organisations to share their experiences and possible interventions. Delegates from eThekwini Municipality shared the City’s experiences and outlined several interventions taken to assist the homeless during the national lockdown.

The need for a clear definition of homelessness, a formal policy position, framework, uniform norms, and set standards and procedures was highlighted. It was agreed that homeless programmes need uniform support, funding, and budget mechanisms. Furthermore, there is a need to determine the kind of social infrastructure needed to support homeless people. It is also important to align the support to universal human rights, the webinar discussed. It was further agreed that the roles and responsibilities among stakeholders should be established and endorsed by all parties involved. “We as MILE, CIFAL Durban and Safer Cities are grateful for the opportunity presented to us by UNITAR to co-host with CIFAL York (Canada) to host a webinar on homelessness,” said Professor Mpilo Ngubane, head of the eThekwini Municipal Academy.

He said the presentations were informative, particularly how hotels were converted into shelters for the homeless people during the high peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. EThekwini Municipality was also lauded for being the first City globally to vaccinate the homeless.
WEATHER

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