Nigerian Cities Join Forces to Build Resilience

As one of the most extensively urbanized countries in Africa, over 50% of the population of Nigeria currently live in urban areas, and the population of those cities is expected to double every 20 years – representing nearly 200 million people by 2035. Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, and its more than 8 million inhabitants, became a member of the 100 Resilient Cities network in May of 2016. This inspired the governors of three other cities to join with the Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility to found the Nigerian Resilient Cities Network (NRCN), of which Lagos serves as a core member. Lagos is joined by eight cities spread across the country – Port Harcourt, Enugu, Abuja, Minna, Kaduna, Bauchi, Kano, and Katsina. The NCRN has since been registered as an independent NGO, empowered to act on the behalf of member cities as a collective at the national level. Membership is open to any city in the country.

Launched in November of 2016, the network seeks to advance resilience thinking across the country, and promote reflection and innovation in applying resilience to the political-economic context of Nigeria. Cities in Nigeria have no dedicated administration of their own – rather than Mayors, the governance of cities falls to the state-wide authorities, who often have too wide a remit to focus on the specific needs of the city itself. The NCRN will work with those state authorities to increase their capacity to manage and deliver services in their urban areas. Members have committed to principles of peer learning and stakeholder engagement in all of their efforts.

Housed at Ahmadu Bello University’s Zaria campus, the network is partnering with professors there to create new resilience-themed courses targeted at municipal employees across Nigeria, including a new Masters’ degree in City Management – the first of its kind in the country. In addition, NRCN plans to develop and implement resilience strategies (a core feature of the 100RC program) in each of its member cities, and has already connected with 100RC for support in deploying tools, partners, and the 100RC methodology.

At their first member workshop, a participant shared with 100RC that “we have embraced the concept of urban resilience with great enthusiasm since being introduced to it through our interactions with 100RC. It’s not that we hadn’t heard of it previously – but 100RC took a really complex, multi-faceted conundrum and broke it down to a few thematic areas and a super-simple concept: helping cities recover from long-term stresses and short-term shocks. We know all about these in Nigeria; we get it.” The first major workstream of the network will be to seek solutions for a critical need in the Nigerian urban context – the need for readily available and standardized data on city systems. Further, the leadership of the NRCN recently applied for a USAID/SACE Innovation grant focused on affordable housing, receiving 100RC technical assistance and review in the process, and has advanced through the first round of the selection process.