The 24th Governing Council Meeting of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) ended at the weekend in Nairobi Kenya, with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Government of Ondo State, Nigeria, announcing contributions totaling $5 million to boost the work of the global city agency.
The contribution comprises $3 million through the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development aimed at research and strengthening UN-Habitat’s engagement with Habitat Agenda Partners and other non-governmental actors across sub-Saharan Africa.
A further $2 million from the Ondo State Government will be used to prepare a range of programmes including youth empowerment schemes, slum upgrading, local economic enterprises, and land reform in the State, Nigeria.
The new partnerships enhance Nigeria’s status among emerging economies supporting UN-Habitat with core funds. The continental initiative is aimed at mobilising and building the capacity of CSOs and non-governmental actors towards a New African Urban Agenda which focuses on transformational initiatives and governance, anchored on the core values of transparency and inclusiveness.
African countries have been actively engaged with the urban challenge over the past two decades. Following the African Union’s Decision 29 in 2003, African countries established the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD) in 2005, and have addressed themselves at national levels to the challenge of urban poverty, slums and access to land for development. This initiative is aimed to strengthen the second and third legs of the engagement with private sector firms and civil society actors as the continent prepares itself to benefit from urbanisation.
The New Urban Agenda recognises Africa as a rising continent which prosperity will be shaped by its cities as the drivers of growth, equity and sustainability. It is expected that the process will contribute to a shared vision for sustainable urban development.
The Ondo State initiative is coming on the heels of a N100 million partnership brokered between the State Government of Osun and UN Habitat in July last year, under which Structure Plans are being developed for nine cities in the state, namely: Oshogbo, Ile Ife, Ilesa, Iwo, Ede, Ejigbo, Ila Orangun, Ikire and Ikirun. Earlier partnerships had seen the completion of Structure Plans for three cities in Anambra State (Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi), as well as work nearing completion on Masterplans fpr four cities in Nasarawa State (Lafi, Doma, Keffi and Karu).
In Ondo Stae, the administration has risen to the urgency of governance and is addressing the needs of its people through programmes that touch and impact on peoples livelihoods. The Governor who is a winner of UN-Habitat’s Scroll of Honour pledged to further the recognition by aligning the State’s development priorities with the new vision of UN-habitat.
The official signing ceremony took place at the residence of the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to UN-Habitat and High Commissioner to Kenya Akintola Oyateru and was done by Ms Amal Pepple, the Honorable Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development who led the Nigeria delegation to the meeting and Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Governor of Ondo State of Nigeria. Un-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos, signed on behalf of the agency.
In her remarks, Ms. Pepple said: “The New Urban Agenda recognizes that Africa’s prosperity will be shaped by its cities as the drivers of growth, equity and sustainability. It is expected that the process will contribute to a shared vision for sustainable urban development”.
According to Governor Mimiko, “The collaboration between UN-Habitat and the Ondo State government that we are here to formalize today is to ensure that together we are able to transform our vision to reality in the areas of youth employment, urban economic development, urban infrastructure rehabilitation and better land reform management. To us, these areas are strategic and important for both individual development and improved state economic growth.”
Dr. Clos, while receiving the two contributions, was clearly happy by what he called “the energy and freshness brought in by Nigeria’s move”, and expressed hope that other countries in the global South will follow suit.