The Iranian Road and Urban Development Ministry and the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) agreed on a strategic framework of cooperation for the coming four years.The announcement was made following a UN-HABITAT visit to Iran 12-14 November. The framework expands the current disaster risk reduction work of the UN-HABITAT Tehran Office to the surrounding region. UN-HABITAT also joins forces with sister UN agencies and many local counterparts under the 2012-2016 Iran United Nations Development Assistance Framework for building capacity in administration and society to reduce a wide variety of urban risks. The framework introduces a new subject for cooperation: Iran's massive and comprehensive affordable housing program. Known as the Mehr, it is a $26bln undertaking supported by the Government. It will bring some 1 million affordable homes to the first-time home owners. Until this year, more than $10bln soft loans had been provided by the banks to the eligible target groups, and some 500,000 homes had been delivered under the Mehr housing scheme by private developers on the land offered for free by the Government. New home owners are getting a 99 year lease on the publicly owned land. UN-HABITAT visited one of the 17 new towns currently developed in Iran: Pardis, located 25 km east of Tehran, currently connected to central Tehran by a highway, whilst a subway line is also on the drawing board. Once the project is completed, Pardis New Town will house some 150,000 inhabitants. UN-HABITAT will be advising, studying and eventually helping to share Iran's experience with other countries. Under this new strategic framework of cooperation, UN-HABITAT is scheduled to send a team to Iran to start work in December 2011.