…Says N1.5bn spent on slum upgrading in four years

…UN-Habitat urges team work to attain SDGs

By Chris Ochayi

ABUJA: The Federal Government, Monday, has embarked on review of urban development policy in order to draw vibrant template that would effectively help to harness problems of climate change and urbanization in the country.

Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who disclosed this in his presentation to commemorate the 2021 World Habitat Day and World Cities Day held in Abuja, lamented that for the outbreak of deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the review process would have been completed.

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Mr. Fashola stressed further that the government was actively committed to the upgrading of urban slums across the country through the urban renewal and slum upgrading programme of the ministry.

The theme of this year’s event for World Habitat Day and World Cities Day are “Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world and Adopting cities for climate resilience”.

Meanwhile, United Nations Human Settlements Programme on UN-Habitat, has called for a team work to ensure that climate goals are met through implementation of the New Urban Agenda in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.

The Minister added that, commemoration of today’s event ties in with Sustainable Development Goal 11, which is to make cities “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

According to him, “In the same vein, the main objectives of the World Cities Day 2021 are to: Increase awareness on climate change adaptation and urban resilience; Inspire effective climate action at the local level by sharing knowledge on effective urban system resilience solutions and Contribute to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, Social Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement for Climate Change to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Undisputedly, today we live in an urban world where 55 per cent of the World’s population lives in cities and towns, and this figure continue to grow every day. Also, it is a well-recognized fact that urbanization presents some of the most significant challenges and opportunities we face in the World today.

“The numerous cities that Dot our landscape are centers for economic growth and development, but they also face demographic, environmental, economic and social challenges which we must address.

“As you are aware, cities account for 75 percent of the world’s energy consumption and are responsible for over 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions; with Transport, buildings, energy, and waste management accounting for the bulk of urban carbon emissions.

“The future of our planet depends on national, regional arid local governments and organizations, communities, academic institutions, the private sector and all relevant stakeholders working together to create sustainable, carbon- neutral, inclusive cities and towns.

“Today’s event will amplify the global Race to Zero Campaign and UN-Habitat’s ClimateAction4Cities and encourage local governments to develop actionable zero-carbon plans in the run up to the international climate change summit (COP26) in November, 2021. “

Fashola recalled that, “Nigeria currently experiences several challenges associated with climate change. These include extreme changes in weather conditions, desertification arising from southern encroachment of the desert affecting the eleven frontline States in the Northern part of Nigeria, and occurrences of natural disasters such as flooding, bush fires, rising sea levels, coastal erosion, threat to recreational water fronts and inland gully erosions.

“These problems pose serious threats to security of human life, property, health, economic and social welfare.

“Consequently, a demonstration of our commitment to mitigate these myriad of challenge that the Federal Government has been making effort to adapt cities in Nigeria for climate resilience through the on-going review of the Nigeria’s 2012 National Urban Development Policy.

“The Ministry embarked on this review process as a vibrant template that would effectively harness problems of climate change and urbanization in Nigeria and transform them into potentials for balanced all round national growth and development.

“Although the pace of completing the review process was delayed by the challenges of managing Covid-19 Pandemic, the coming of the Pandemic has further compelled the need to quickly conclude and start applying the new policy for common good of all.

“Another clear indicator of our commitment is that we have activated the Roadmap for Nigeria’s Housing and Urban Development Sector and are in the process of producing a National Land Policy; and a strategic National Physical Development Plan to induce far reaching reforms in land administration in Nigeria.

“The Federal Government is taking proactive initiative in this direction with the preparation of Physical Development Plans for some towns and cities as technical assistance to the States in the preparation of Strategic Regional Development Plans.

“The current strategy will provide a platform for the National Physical Development Plan to be prepared based on mutually agreed broad statements, standards and guidelines for physical development activities and reduce the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions across the nation.

“To further support these efforts, the Federal Government is actively committed to the upgrading of urban slums across Nigeria through the Urban Renewal and Slum Upgrading Programme of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

“Considerable strides have been made in ‘the execution of the Urban Renewal and Slum Upgrading Programme to the tune of about N1.5bn between 2019 and 2020.

“In the last 5 years, the Ministry has successfully provided Solar Powered street Lights at Ohanku Street, Aba, Abia State, Namso Street, Kaduna, Kaduna State, and Bundu-Ama, PH, Rivers State; and Solar Powered borehole projects at the Ministry’s Heaquarters in Mabushi, Abuja, Ohanku Road, Aba, Abia State, Erusu-Akoko, Ondo State, Kurna Asabe, Kano State, Bundu-Ama PH, Rivers State, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, Yelwa, Kebbi State, Shaki, Oyo State and Kpaklama, Delta State.

“The recent efforts made under the -Urban Renewal and -8ium Upgrading Proqrarnme ‘has resulted in -different- direct and indirect benefit a well a advanced current level of progress towards reversal of the expansion of slums across Nigeria and its impact on climate change.

“In light of the above, the Ministry in contributing to accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world has designed constructed and delivered a 1.52 Megawatts Solar Powered generating y tern that is providing uninterrupted power supply to 5 blocks housing the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and Federal Ministry of Environment. ”

In his remarks, Executive Director, of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme on UN-Habitat, Mainunah Mohd Sharif said the stakeholders should work and talk together to tacked the challenge of climate change.

According to her, “We need to encourage walking and talking, and we need well planned and well managed complexities that allow for non motorized transport to reduce energy consumption from cooling and heating.

“So the natural and built environment comes together in greater harmony. Cities are the incubators of innovation and new technology.

“We must be striving for better climate change solutions, climate actions will differ from city to city, but we must make sure the brief summary can benefit everyone, especially the most vulnerable, and create new jobs.

“The only way forward is for everyone to work together to ensure that our climate goals are met through implementation of the New Urban Agenda to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.”

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