MAYOR Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar has thanked the United Nations (UN) Habitat and the government of Spain for including Zamboanga City in the list of recipients for the Achieving Sustainable Urban Development (ASUD) program.

Salazar issued the statement following the formalization of the partnership through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UN Habitat and the government of Spain on Friday in Makati City.

Salazar, who spearheaded the local government together with UN Habitat-Philippine Country Representative Christopher Rollo, said the inclusion of the city in the ASUD project will be a step further in the city’s quest for building back a better city in light of the 21-day September 2013 siege.

The siege devastated five villages and displaced more than 100,000 people. Thousands of them remain at the transitory sites.

ASUD promotes planned city extensions as a proactive response to urban growth and an alternative to fringe expansion characterized by sprawling, segregated, and poorly connected developments.

She said portions of Mercedes and Zambowood villages with approximately 600 hectares area have been identified by local government as the extension site as well as the location for the city’s new airport.

Salazar said the City Government welcomes all assistance and support from international organizations and government agencies to fully realize its vision to rise from the devastations wrought by the 21-day siege. (Bong Garcia)