Mrs. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka joined UN-HABITAT as Executive Director in September 2000. Today she is the highest ranking African woman in the United Nations system. A Tanzanian national, she holds a Doctorate of Science in Agricultural Economics from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala. During her first two years in office, Mrs. Tibaijuka oversaw major reforms that led the UN General Assembly to upgrade the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements to a fully-fledged UN programme, now called UN-HABITAT - the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. Her appointment as Executive Director was confirmed at the Under-Secretary-General level, and Mrs. Tibaijuka was elected by the General Assembly to her first four-year term in July 2002.
As Executive Director, she participates in all high-level bodies of the UN system. These include the Chief Executive Board of the United Nations, and the Senior Management Board of the Secretary-General, which serves as his cabinet. It is under her tenure that governments overseeing the agency through its Governing Council more than doubled UN-HABITAT’s core budget to $44 million for 2004-2005, granting it authority to spend up to $50 million should funds become available.
Mrs. Tibaijuka has substantially strengthened UN-HABITAT politically, financially and operationally, greatly increasing its visibility and impact, while streamlining the agency and making it more accountable. She has also strengthened relations with key donors and member states, and has positioned UN HABITAT to play a greater role in international development.
Mrs. Tibaijuka has spearheaded UN-HABITAT’s main objective of improving the lives of slum dwellers in line with the Millennium Development Goals. UN HABITAT is responsible for leading the effort on Target 11 of those goals - improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020.
Awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree in 2003 for her work by the University College London, Mrs. Tibaijuka, a champion of women’s rights who speaks English, Swahili, Haya, Swedish and some French, has published five books and many articles.
Prior to joining UN-HABITAT, Mrs. Tibaijuka was the Special Coordinator for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked and Small Island Developing Countries at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) responsible for strengthening the capacity of LDCs in trade negotiations with the World Trade Organization.
From 1993 to 1998, when she joined UNCTAD, Mrs. Tibaijuka was Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Dar-es-Salaam. During this period she was also a member of the Tanzanian Government delegation to several United Nations Summits including the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Istanbul, 1996); the World Food Summit (Rome 1996); the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995) and the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995). At these conferences, Mrs. Tibaijuka was an active member of the Civil Society and NGO Forums. At the World Food Summit in Rome, she was elected Coordinator for Eastern Africa in the Network for Food Security, Trade and Sustainable Development (COASAD). Mrs. Tibaijuka has also been a Board Member of UNESCO's International Scientific Advisory Board since November 1997.
In June 2005, Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Mrs.Tibaijuka as his Special Envoy to study the scope of the Zimbabwean Government's evictions of informal traders and people deemed to be squatting illegally.
The year before, British Prime Minister Tony Blair had invited Mrs. Tibaijuka, to be a member of the Commission for Africa, which he established to generate ideas and action to accelerate and sustain Africa's growth and development. The Commission, comprising 16 internationally known figures, completed its report in March 2005. The report sets out a comprehensive plan for action on governance, conflict, health and education, the economy and international assistance. The report was prepared for the Group of Eight summit of industrialized nations as a first step to achieving change on the African continent.
Apart from her UN-HABITAT role, Mrs. Tibaijuka is dedicated to the role and rights of women in development. The founding Chairperson of the independent Tanzanian National Women's Council (known by its Swahili acronym, BAWATA), she is also the founding Chairperson of the Barbro Johansson Girls Education Trust dedicated to promoting high standards of education for girls in Tanzania and in Africa. She was also the convener of Tanzania’s Local Entrepreneurs Initiative, a voluntary group mobilising and assisting Tanzanians to form joint venture companies with overseas investors. She has been a Board Member of the Tanzania Economic Policy Development and Management Foundation and is a director of a number of private companies dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurship and efficiency in agricultural marketing. She is a widow and has four children.