Diverse stakeholder groups including community associations, trade groups and government officials last week began the validation of Urban Profiles prepared in nine cities in the State of Osun, under a N100 million Structure Plans Project funded by the state government in partnership with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
The Osun Structure Plans Project, which kicked off in July last year, seeks to develop and adopt Structure Plans that will guide the growth, development and management of the participating cities over the next 20 years.
The participating cities, grouped into three clusters of three cities each, are: Osogbo, Ikirun, Ila Orangun (Cluster 1), Ilesha, Ile Ife, Ede (Cluster 2) and Iwo, Ejgbo and Ikire (Cluster 3).
Structure Plans are planning instruments that will guiding the growth of these towns for the next 20 years and specifically make significant contributions towards achieving the goals of the State’s six-point Integral Action Plan, the various Local Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (LEEDS), the HABITAT Agenda and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The project involves use of the Rapid Urban Sector Profiling for Sustainability (RUSPS) methodology, which establishes a sustainable, participatory, long-term framework for the orderly physical, economic and social development of the city.
The RUSPS methodology, which is based on ‘Guidelines for Sustainable Urban Development’ designed by the European Commission and UN-Habitat, seeks to reduce urban poverty through policy development and assessment of needs and responses for urban institutions.
“One of the major challenges facing urban centres is a lack of information and accurate statistics that could be used when planning development. This is one of the issues we want to address. The successful implementation of the process would help town planners prioritize their needs and put their resources into the places they ought to be,” said Dr. Alioune Badiane, Director, Projects Office, at the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement in Osogbo.
In all, 13 consultants, comprising specialists in Urban Planning and Local Economic Development; Urban Environment and Infrastructure; Governance, Gender and Anthropology, as well as Urban Services and Transportations were commissioned to work on the project under the coordination of a Chief Technical Adviser.
According to the State Commissioner for Lands, Physical Planning and Urban Development, Muyiwa Ige, the Structure Plans Project is a follow-up to an Urban Renewal Scheme involving the upgrading of a two-kilometre radius from the city centre in each of the nine cities.
“We are determined to transform our cities into functional settlements that will match our expectations as a state of excellence,” Ige said.
The City Consultations began last Tuesday, July 9 at Ilesa, followed by Ile Ife (July 10) and Ede on July 11. Others follow at Iwo (July 15), Ejigbo (July 16) and Ikire (July 17), while consultations for the final cluster will hold at hold at Ikirun (July 22), Ila (July 23) and Osogbo (July 24).
The UN-Habitat Programme Manager for Nigeria, Mallam Kabir Yari, stressing the importance of the scheme, noted: “For planning to flourish and more importantly stem the growing slum formation and poverty, there is a need for a more fundamental rethinking of city planning and development approaches and actions to make them inclusive, participatory and one to be undertaken at the local level.”
The Structure Plans project comprises three phases, namely: Phase 1 – a rapid appraisal of current issues and policies to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to policy on slums and shelter, governance, gender and HIV/AIDS and the urban environment; Phase 2 – building on priorities determined in the previous phase to develop and expand capacity for national and local institutions to improve their performance in the urban sector; and, Phase 3 – implementation of programmes and projects identified in earlier phases.
The project is scheduled for completion before the end of this year.