With the unveiling of its Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plan (SEACAP), the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) may have distinguished itself as a model for urban development in Nigeria.
In 2021, the Council became a signatory to the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA). The alliance is part of AMAC’s focus to move from planning to implementation and mobilise domestic resources to address climate change and ensure a sustainable city for everyone.
To translate this agreement into practical measures, the signatories developed the SEACAP document as a strategic and operational manual for the sustainable and low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions development pathway of the council.
Anyone who has been living in the municipality for the past decade, such person would agree that, like many other cities of the world, the beautiful metropolis has been facing some environmental hazards such as floods, droughts, excessive rainfall; and rising temperatures that have contributed to the increase in frequencies and intensities.
How to manage these emissions to curb the instability in weather conditions is a cardinal question that the leadership must answer to achieve this sustainability target, because of its impact on food production and the security of neighboring cities.
Due to this crisis, the livelihood of the poor and those living in informal settlements is highly at risk, including roads; buildings; telecommunication, and electricity infrastructure are usually destroyed whenever these ecological changes occur.
Sadly, however, it is also essential to bring to public knowledge that this situation is going to get worse in the coming years if nothing is done to fix things. There is a possibility to see increasing water-borne diseases and more infrastructural damage, and there are many climate models that support this assertion.
Another critical concern that has to be tackled by the town is the issue of energy access. Less than 40% of people have access to electricity, and only about 17% can access clean cooking energy. Access to energy is crucial for ensuring quality health and education for the population. It is also important for creating economic and employment opportunities which also address inequality, increase access to clean water, and create better cities.
Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, is crucial to the success of at least 12 of the other 16 sustainable development goals planned for 2030 and it’s a key driver for inclusive growth.
Different city populations have different ways of being able to cope with these environmental hazards. Some more resilient cities can adapt when these incidents happen and can provide quick support to their citizens who have lost their homes or means of livelihood.
The significant thing about these cities that is worthy of note, is that this didn’t take place overnight. It took the critical thinking and efforts of several people to come together and plan to know how to deal with emergency circumstances that are created by changing climatic conditions.
In addition to dealing with the situations after they have occurred, it is more beneficial to be more proactive, rather than reactive, to combat these hazards. This is the summary of the SEACAP development journey – proper planning to reduce deforestation and adopting renewable energy to address not only climate change but energy issues.
The idea is to provide more facilities and infrastructure to handle solid and liquid waste as listed in the SEACAP operational guide.
“Thus, we have taken initial steps towards ensuring that AMAC is one of the African cities which are building climate resilience, and anticipating risks and hazards, while ensuring low emissions development trajectory,” says Christopher Maikalangu, the Executive Chairman of AMAC.
Maikalangu, who made the statement while addressing stakeholders at the official launching of the SEACAP project on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in Abuja, added that his council is hugely excited to be taking on this exercise, and assured that, with all hands on deck, and everyone participating actively, significant progress will be made.
It is essential that in the process of addressing the climate and energy needs of AMAC, everyone must be carried along.
“The poor are at a greater disadvantage, as they are often the ones living in flood plains because they cannot afford better homes outside those areas,” Abdullahi Candido, the immediate past chairman of the council, said.
Candido wants the future of these marginalised and vulnerable groups to be captured in the development plan of the city. Indigenous people, women and children, and senior citizens should also not be left out, and whatever development plans are being undertaken should try to cater as much as possible to these vulnerable groups.
“Thus far, we have identified actions in the SEACAP that will position AMAC to become one of the leading cities in Nigeria should this plan be implemented,” he said.
Imagine AMAC being able to meet its target of 99.6% access to electricity, 85.2% access to clean cooking, and having 500 solar streetlights installed in each ward. The SEACAP plan also has space to provide 90% of the households in rural communities with access to clean portable drinking water and decrease open defecation to not more than 5% of the population.
“This launch is the outcome of what we have been doing for the past one and half years and, with this, we have an eight-year plan as a local government to address the issue of climate change, energy, and other development issues,” said Mrs. Abiodun Essiet, Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan African Focal Person.
She hinted that some of the council staff has been empowered to be able to implement this project.
“We are very proud of the works and actions being taken by AMAC,” says Ms. Venessa Vovor, Programme Coordinator, CoM SSA, Nigeria. “And we are congratulating them now on this work.”
Ms. Vovor informed that CoM SSA is supporting AMAC in the development of further urban infrastructure projects.
“So, the launch of this plan is the beginning of a journey where we will actively continue to support them with the development of actions and we will be providing them with the necessary technical assistance,” she pledged.
With the launch of this project, its sustainability now rests on the shoulders of the leadership of AMAC. They would do a great service to the council if they can give this project the political backing that is required to carry out the different actions prirotised for each of the SEACAP pillars. This could start by accepting the SEACAP as an official reference to the council development plans within the next eight years.
By Etta Michael Bisong, Abuja