Is the heavenly reward no longer worth waiting for?

By Elizabeth Osayande

Stakeholders are of the opinion that attaining a green environment was key to healthy life, and sustainable development.

The above and more were the resolve of key stakeholders during a forum hosted by the Federal University of Technology,  Akure, FUTA to address issues bordering on the implementation of green infrastructure for the promotion of health in informal urban neighbourhood. The Stakeholders Forum is supported through a research grant from GCRF Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities ,SHLC, at University of Glasgow, UK.

In his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Joseph Fuwape noted that green represent life and that the importance of health and green environment was globally emphasized.

According to Prof. Fuwape, Covid-19 pandemic was a blessing in disguise as it enabled Nigeria to look inwards for free  food and vegetables.

His words:” Part of the remedies during the lock down that emanated from the pandemic was to adopt green food and vegetables.

” However, the social environment should not disregard the physical environment or the ecosystem. As we have to take responsibility in making our environment green as different diseases are coming up, like Covid-19, Lassa fever, Ebola etc. ” VC FUTA explained.

Collaborating Prof. Fuwape’s claim, a former DVCD at FUTA, Prof Tolu Akinbogun, noted that when someone is sick, the environment is very important to his healing, making emphasis on the importance of green infrastructure.

On his part, the  leader of the Research Group and Principal Investigator, Dr Olumuyiwa Adegun revealed that the aim of the forum was to bring stakeholders together to contribute from the three cardinal points: green infrastructure; health; and informal neighbourhood.

He highlighted the objectives of the project aimed to understand the link between the subject, and how to move from the present to the desirable/ideal condition. In addition, it entailed assessment of the socio-demographic characteristics of the people, housing and health assessment, access to green spaces like parks, and link to the natural environment.

The head of Urban Renewal Unit, Ondo State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development Mr Garuba, who defined slum as areas without compliance to planning ethics and regulations, reiterated the the haphazard development in our cities was due to the neglect of master plan and that people do not reckon with the preparation of layout.

Garba, who lamented that the government has little or no regard for planners, explained key benefits of green infrastructure to the health of the people.

The benefits he said included: improvement in water quality; clean run-off water; contribution to wildlife capital; contribute to a more sustainable environment; contribute to overall well-being of humans.

His words: ” The more greens we have, the purer the oxygen we take in and the better our health. We also need  to plant trees to increase the quality of air in the society.

In his discussion, a Community Health Physician/State Epidemiologist in Ondo State,  Dr Stephen Fagbemi called for proper planning of urban settlements.

According to Fagbemi,” Cities are growing on every side as a result of rural-urban migration. These unregulated development has brought about slums in the cities which has consequently breed diseases.

” If we don’t take care of the slums, it will affect the whole city. There are cases of epidemics which are turning things around and causing a new normal. We were able to dodge the bullet of Ebola and Covid 19 at the first and second outbreak. But there may be another virus that will target Nigeria and we may not be able to dodge that one. ” The medical practitioner noted.

Fagbemi who stated that the Ondo state government need to upscale the tracking of those infected with the above epidemic and pandemic called for proper planning in the implementation of urban greening.

He also called for the inclusion of medical practitioners in decision making regarding the environment.

One of the presenters, from Kids and Teens Resource Centre, Mr Gbenga Adesunloro,  examined the issue of green infrastructure from the civil society perspective.

Green infrastructure, Adesunloro pointed out, can bring about smart growth and help in climate change adaptation. Green cities improve the physical health, mental health and social well-being of the people.

The Teens Coach called the empowerment and education of  the people for better perspective. “We are to engage in tree planting and also educate the children.” He said.

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