Every year, on the first Monday of October, we celebrate World Habitat Day. Established in 1985 by the United Nations, it is a day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and the fundamental human right to adequate shelter.
When we hear the word ‘habitat’, it often invokes images of rainforests and open spaces, and we almost always link the term to the animal kingdom. Seldom do we consider that us humans are also animals, and we too have habitats, mostly called homes.
World Habitat Day is also further intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to carve the future of our cities and towns. Organisations such as Habitat for Humanity play a vital role in this recovery and work to ensure that people everywhere have homes to call their own, especially in places where the environment is either harsh, unwelcoming or dangerous.
With the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on cities, towns and communities, it is now more important than ever for the world to band together and ensure our human settlements are as resilient as possible. Throughout this year, we have seen hospitals overflowing, jobs vanishing, schools closing, and movement drastically restricted. But with this year’s theme for World Habitat Day being ‘Housing for All: A Better Urban Future’, the time is right to look to the future and the security and longevity of our communities.
Secure lodging is a frontline defence against COVID-19, with residents across the world told to stay at home and wash their hands. But even these simple precautions are impossible for the 1.8 billion people living in insufficient or squalid housing conditions across the world.
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Many cities and smaller communities have been incredibly proactive in supplying emergency housing, shelter and quarantine space with access to food and water for those who may be vulnerable. These are the small steps in solving a much greater problem that organisations such as the United Nations and Habitat for Humanity would like to see perpetuated long after the pandemic is over.
If we do not continue to build on these measures, poverty and inequalities will be further exacerbated as millions are at risk of losing their homes due to missed rent payments.
On World Habitat Day, we need to join forces to respond to the current crisis, share solutions and create cities of the future for everyone. The time to act is now.
Contact your local welfare office, donation centre, or Habitat for Humanity and see how you can get involved in ensuring the stability of your local community for a better future for all.
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