Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal: make cities, human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable

sdgOn September 25, 2015, the 193 countries of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the 2030 development agenda ,titled, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Its 92 paragraphs outlined 17 goals and 169 targets which include; habitation (number 11 of the goals): make cities, human settlement inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, which is the crux of this write up.

In order to familiarize with the key word of this essay, I propose a
definition of settlement as it concerns us. The 6th edition of the
Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines settlement as a place where people have come to live and make their homes. The thread of this write up is how do we guarantee our cities and settlements safety, resilience, and sustainability? Most importantly, how do we achieve this goal before the 15 years target? I will treat this under the problems that might stall its progress and profer solutions in relation to what is happening in my region; Nigeria.

Topmost of all problems is poverty and low level of education. Many families in Nigeria are low income earners and live from hand to mouth. Most find it hard to take care of their wards and afford the ever rising cost of western education. Such parents have no choice but
to enrol their chilren for apprenticeship which also have its
financial cost. Things are made worse with the cost of house rent doubling twice in recent years. Those who cannot cope with such expenses venture out of there homes for survival. An addage says, ‘an idle hand is the devil’s workshop.’ A lot of people, both young and old, never get the opportunity of attending school, and those who eventually manage to get a degree spend years job hunting. With nothing to do and the desperation to survive, people engage in various
illegal activities with its conceqences boomeranging on the society that produced them.

In addition, many a house are built on weak foundations. This bore down to the material used to execute the building plans and the expertise of the contractors. Those who refer themselves as landlord,
landlady, or house owners know little or nothing about buildings. The Lagos state law enforcement agency is known to demolish buildings that are not well executed. Those that manage to escape the big hand of the law later suffer loss of lives and properties when such houses
give way. Most tenants who find themselves in such situation are unable to relocate elsewhere due to financial constraints. In summary, poverty and low level of education creates insecurity which is against the main purpose of human settlement; safety.

On the other hand is the problem of environmental degredation, which is caused by both the inhabitants and government agencies. Many a tenant take solace in the fact that he/she is not the owner ofthe house and finds an excuse to dump refuse and waste in the culverts, gutters, and other inappropriate places. Drainage and water ways are blocked and consequently flooding destroys homes.
Communicable diseases are also contracted due to the unhygeinic nature of the environment. Furthermore, the government award contracts to companies that fail to properly execute them. In 2009, the Lagos state water management company awarded contracts for the construction of underground pipes that will circulate clean water throughout the state. Their workers came with their equipments, dug our passages, only for us to refill it
3 months later. No underground pipe was constructed till today and no rehabilitation has been done on the beautiful passages that were destroyed. Simply put, our settlements lack resilience to
environmental degredation.

The last and most attention deserving problem is the issue of
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), an adverse effect of the Boko Haram menace. Since 2009, extremist sect, Boko Haram have been wrecking havoc in most part of the north. Death toll have risen beyond 10,000 according to the vanguard newspaper in 2015. Wives have become widows, children are ophaned everyday, and surviving victims are left
homeless. Nigeria’s minister for information, Lai Muhammed claims ‘we are winning the war against insurgency’, but the IDPs are yet to get their homes back. On the long run, the success of the Nigerian government to defeat insurgency and rebuild the IDPs home will be a defining yardstick on how sutainable our cities and various settlements are.

The burden of the aforementioned problems weigh on the minister for works, power, and housing, ex-governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola. The 11th SDG goal falls in line with his national appointment and he is in the position to decide its feasibility.

In light of these events, here are my propose solution or ways of achieving the SDG goal.

…To be continued…

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