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Ogori, Nigeria, 18 Mar 14

Prof Oyebanji of UN-Habitat with the Governor of Kogi State Captain Idria Wada during the workshop. Picture by Akolade Aderibigbe/ UN-Habitat
Eight Nigerian cities are lined up as the first beneficiaries of far reaching structural and urban plans as a result of cooperation agreements with UN-Habitat.

The cities are in Kogi and Zamfara States which have signed the agreements. An inception workshop for the Kogi project and a scoping mission in Zamfara State organized by UN-Habitat in collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) were held early this month.

UN-Habitat’s Director of Research and Monitoring Division Prof. Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka led the UN mission. Speaking at the workshop, the Kogi State Deputy Governor Mr. Yomi Awoniyi said the project would see a development of a city structure plan for selected cities and towns in Kogi state to better integrate physical, spatial and social aspects.

“The plans will also improve the quality of water and sanitation in major cities of the state as well as developing waste management for the state. It is also aimed at improving the understanding of urban law and norms and their relationship to institutional structures leading to empowered local authorities able to efficiently guide and manage urban development,” he said.

Prof. Oyebanji explained that under the scheme, an urban observatory, a unique monitoring system that builds indicator systems through data collection, analysis, monitoring and reporting on sustainable urbanization would be established by UN-Habitat.

“There are also plans to develop an integrated solid waste management model, and an early warning system for climate related extreme events such as floods and droughts as well as public spaces project that will aim at clear contributions to poverty alleviations. It will also address social inclusion, improved integration, mobility and connectivity, better service delivery” he said.

   Similiarly, in the Zamfara Scoping Mission, four cities, namely, Gusau, Talata Mafara, Kaura Namoda and Gummi were selected by the government for the city structure plan. Zamfara State Governor, Mr. Abdul’ Aziz YariAbubakar noted that his vision is aimed at developing safe cities to address social inclusion, improved integration, mobility and connectivity and better service delivery.  The state is expected to make a contribution of USD2 million to UN-Habitat over three years (2014-2016) for socio-economic and urban planning projects in selected towns and cities.

   He recalled that under the agreement signed between the state and UNHABITAT, the project seeks to develop an urban observatory programme to address the state-wide base of urban knowledge to support the government, local authorities, non-governmental organisations and civil society in applying policy-oriented urban indicators, statistics and other urban information.

   The overall goal of the project is to increase the state capacity to implement participatory urban management through structural planning and land reform, and to enhance the capacity of the state in handling early warning system for climate change and a holistic, strategic and systematic approach to solid waste management by using strategic planning, approaches that harness urban development, local assets and capabilities. The project will target unemployed young men and women living in urban areas.
   Under the pact, Zamfara is expected to contribute the seed fund while the UN-Habitat which provides manpower, knowledge and skills is to be responsible for receiving and administrating the funds contributed for the implementation of the chosen projects such as Local Economic Development Initiatives focusing on youth employment.

     Governor Abubakar remarked that his state has a lot to offer and expressed optimism that the agreement with UN-Habitat would go a long way in helping them achieve their urbanisation targets.
  “The state has a lot of potential but lacks the technical expertise and I am assuring you that my government is ready to work with UN-Habitat so that we realize our full potential,” the Governor who was flanked by several members of his cabinet said.
Under the agreement, the participating states are to plug into UN-Habitat’s  vast network of partners, relative lower cost of projects compared with private consultancies and the leveraging of funds and international aids based on the outcomes of the programme.

So far, six Nigerian states have entered into a similar agreement with UN-Habitat.  Apart from Kogi and Zamfara, the others are Anambra, Ondo, Osun, Nassarawa and Kogi. Reports from that country indicate that several other states are also showing interest of coming on board.

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