In line with the United Nations’ SDG 9 and 11 as well as the United Nations’ New Urban Agenda, two major Nigerian cities, Lagos and Enugu, have registered some level of progress in building resilience for Africa’s future urbanisation.
At the September 2015 UN Summit for the adoption of the Post-2015 development agenda, 193 UN member countries, including African countries, adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. SDGs 9 and 11 which commit to building resilient infrastructure and making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, are of greatest need in landlocked, infrastructure-short but increasingly urbanising Africa.
Meanwhile, the New Urban Agenda, an action-oriented document agreed upon at the Habitat III cities conference, synchronises with the urban and infrastructure SDGs to provide a guide towards achieving sustainable urban development. Interestingly, Africa was the only region to provide a coordinated response to what should go into the United Nation’s New Urban Agenda (brookings.edu). The Agenda has since been harmonised with the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. Africa is gradually becoming more alive to preparing towards an irresistible urban future.
Progressively, Lagos, a coastal city inhabited by over 21million people and particularly susceptible to damage from rising sea levels and coastal erosion, has in collaboration with the private sector partners reclaimed some coastlines on its Island, in order to protect the city’s vulnerable shores. This overpopulated but commercially viable city is particularly prone to coastal and rain flooding, decline in water quality, chronic energy shortage, disease outbreak, infrastructure failure, poor transportation, and shortage of coastal resources. Reclaiming coastlines is therefore a laudable achievement in fighting against these shocks.
Similarly, Enugu, a rising economic power has increased its capacity to survive, adapt, and grow with urbanisation. Realising its chronic energy shortages, high unemployment, infrastructure failure, housing challenges, and unattractiveness to investors, the city has recently begun working towards matching available energy supply with its population; managing population flows, and establishing cleaner and more reliable energy. Furthermore, in response to the risk of flooding from limited roads, scour, and erosion, the government recently began working towards involving various stakeholders in addressing these risks by responding to drain blockages more effectively; gathering effective damaging reports, and planning future building projects.
With these various developmental moves, it is obvious that Africa is becoming more alive to its urban future and other African cities should take a cue from these urban resilience strategies. Nevertheless, despite these progressive developments, Nigeria and other African countries would need to initiate bolder urbanization strategies to better facilitate their urban resilience building, in order to better benefit the people and set the region for leadership in global agenda. One effective strategy proposed by 100 Resilient Cities is appointing a city Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) who will act as the city’s main lead for resilience building and in turn coordinate all the city’s resilience efforts, as practiced in some cities already, notably: Boston/ Oakland/ New Orleans, U.S.A; Byblos, Lebanon; Medellin, Columbia; Da Nang, Vietnam; Porto Alegre, Brazil, and Enugu, Nigeria, to mention a few. Besides, the Lagos state government recently disclosed its decision to name a Lagos CRO in months to come.