an assessment of nigeria’s rural development policy for sustainable environmental development in nigeria

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The most serious problems confronting cities, towns and their inhabitants as identified in Agenda 21(1996) include the following: Inadequate financial resources, lack of employment opportunities, spreading homelessness and expansion of squatter settlements, increased poverty and a widening gap between the rich and poor, growing insecurity and rising crime rates, inadequate and deteriorating building stock, services and infrastructure. Other problems include lack of health and educational facilities, improper land use, insecure land tenure, rising traffic congestion, increasing pollution, lack of green spaces, inadequate water supply and sanitation, uncoordinated urban development and an increasing vulnerability to disaster. All these have seriously challenged the capacity of government at all levels to realize socio- economic development and environmental protection, which are all components of sustainable development.
Nigeria as a nation has been experiencing an accelerated shift of her populations from rural to urban areas. This rapid rate of urbanization has engendered several challenges and problems similar to situations in other parts of the world. The problems identified in Agenda 21are prevalent in Nigeria. Today’s Nigerian city, according to Mabogunje (2002) is typified by substandard and inadequate housing, slums, and lack of infrastructure, transportation problems, low productivity, poverty, crime and juvenile delinquency. Urbanization, according to him is the root cause of the high rates of environmental degradation, pollution and social delinquency. Nigeria ranks 151st on the Human Development Index of 177countries worldwide (HDR, 2004).
In order to address the problem of poverty and promote sustainable development, the United Nations Millennium Declaration was adopted in September 2000, committing countries both rich and poor to do all they can to eradicate poverty, promote human dignity and equality and achieve peace, democracy and environmental stability. The goals include those dedicated to eradicating poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development. Nigeria is a signatory to the Millennium Declaration and has a responsibility to implement the goals.
Various scholars have studied the challenges of sustainability and urban development in Nigeria. Some of them include Falade (1999) whose study focused on the challenges of a sustainable Nigeria, Abumere (2002) whose research centered on urban governance and the challenges of urban poverty, Odeyemi (2002) who did a study on gender and urbanization and Olanrewaju (2003) who focused on sustainability and urban poverty. rural development policy

However, since urban development occurs in a continuum, this paper focuses on the effects of a global development initiative, the Millennium Development Goals, on urban development and sustainability in Nigeria. The study examines the concept of sustainable development, the challenges of urban development and sustainability in Nigeria, and analyzes the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, in order to ascertain the level of achievement of the goals and targets especially those dedicated to poverty eradication and sustainable development, with emphasis on Nigeria. rural development policy

The Human Development Report (2004) records that 45.9% of the 120.9million(2002estimates) strong population of Nigeria resides in urban centers. According to Mabogunje (2002), residents of urban centers in Nigeria in 1950 were less that 15% of the population. By 1975, this proportion had risen to 23.4% and by 2000 was 43.3%. According to him, urban population growth rate is 4.8% annually; markedly higher than the national annual growth rate of 2.2%(HDR, 2004). The prognosis is that by 2015, more than half of the nations population would be urban dwellers. According to Mabogunje (2002), the 1991National Population Census recorded 359 urban settlements of at least 20,000 people in the nation and estimated the figure to have increased to 450 by 2000. rural development policy

Urban development problems in Nigeria could be viewed from both socio-economic and environmental perspectives. Increase in the urban population has resulted in the proliferation of slums and informal peri-urban settlements otherwise known as shantytowns. The shantytowns as described by Aina (1990) are deprived settlements characterized by excessive residential densities, largely uninhabitable housing and the absence of sanitation, basic infrastructure and social services. They harbor migrants from the rural areas who are unable to fit into the economy of the city and so tend to find solace in informal activities and crime The proliferation of these shantytowns results in the unwieldy expansion of the urban centers which poses a major planning problem as provision and management of roads, drainage and sewage systems among other infrastructure proves very difficult. Furthermore, shantytowns, a consequent of urbanization, cause increases in the incidence of urban poverty, diseases and epidemics, environmental pollution, urban conflicts and crime. rural development policy
Population Reference Bureau (2004) identified the urban challenges of less developed countries to be poverty, public and reproductive health and natural disasters and environmental hazards. The situation in Nigeria is discussed in greater detail below
1. Urban Poverty In Nigeria: Poverty in Nigerian cities is endemic. The Human Development Report (2004) records that 70.2% Nigerians survive on less than US$1 daily, while 90.8% of the population lives on less than US$2 daily. Jimoh (1997) claims that 8 out of every 10 urban households are poor. Poverty is a major factor in urban congestion and environmental degradation. It is an enormous threat to the political stability, social cohesion and environmental balance of our cities and until it is tackled decisively, sustainable urban development will remain a mirage.(Danmole, 2002).
2. Urban Public Health In Nigeria: Harpham and Tanner (1995), Atkinson et al (1996) and Bradley et al (1999) in various studies discovered that urban dwellers in less developed countries are exposed to the traditional scourges associated with living in a poor country, such as malnutrition, measles, and malaria; afflictions resulting from newly modernizing societies, such as obesity, cancer, and road accidents; and the deterioration of mental health and increased rates of psychiatric disorders and deviant behavior that are associated with degraded living conditions, overcrowding, and rapid social and cultural change in urban areas. All these health consequences of urbanization are evident on the Nigerian city scene. rural development policy

3. Urban Environmental Hazards in Nigeria: The environment provides all life support systems with air, water and land as well as the materials for fulfilling all developmental aspirations of man. The Nigerian environment today presents a grim litany of woes. Many Nigerian cities are especially vulnerable to flooding, erosion and storm damage. Invariably, natural disasters in cities kill or injure members of low-income groups disproportionately because the poor often live in unsafe housing on vulnerable lands. The loss of homes, possessions, and often livelihood because of a natural disaster often leads to further impoverishment. Motor vehicles and motorcycles also pose a significant environmental threat to urban residents. Reported Road traffic accidents in Nigeria between 1990 and 1995 were 121,451. Of these figures 15.66% totaling 19,049cases occurred in Lagos, Nigeria’s Metropolitan city. (Danmole, 2002)
Industrialization’s effect on the environment is also noteworthy. While motor vehicles are the primary cause of pollution in cities, increased demand for energy to run air conditioning and electrical appliances is contributing to pollution in many cities Producing the energy required to run modern urban systems often involves burning fossil fuels, which releases such greenhouse gases as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. These emissions lead to global warming, which can cause destruction of the ozone layer, climate change, rising sea levels, changes in vegetation, and severe weather events. rural development policy

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987). The primary objective of sustainable development is to reduce the absolute poverty of the world’s poor through providing lasting and secure livelihoods that minimize resource depletion, environmental degradation, cultural disruption and social instability. rural development policy
The Earth Summit (UNCED), which took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, recognized the pressing environment and development problems of the world and, through the adoption of Agenda 21, produced a global programme of action for sustainable development in the 21st century. Agenda 21 stresses the importance of partnerships in improving social, economic and environmental quality in urban areas. It suggests renewed focus on effective land use planning to include adequate environmental infrastructure, water, sanitation, drainage, transportation and solid waste management, in addition to a sound social infrastructure capable of alleviating hunger. According to Afonja (1999), the Earth Summit broadened environmental issues and emphasized the synergies with other social and economic policy issues
The 1997 Special Session of the UN General Assembly set a target date of 2002, for the formulation and elaboration of national strategies for sustainable development. National governments are to integrate environmental, economic and social objectives into decision-making by either elaborating new policies or strategies for sustainable development, or by adapting existing policies and plans. It also reaffirmed that all sectors of the society should be involved in their development and implementation. The World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in August 2002, urged in its Plan of Implementation that nations should take steps to make progress in the formulation and elaboration of national strategies for sustainable development and begin their implementation. (UNDESA, 2004)
The Millennium Declaration was signed in September 2000 in which all the member countries of the United Nations agreed on a set of international development targets, designed to help create a better world and to halve the scourge of poverty by the year 2015. Consequently, the Millennium Development Goals were put forward. Among other commitments, the Millennium Development goals seek to uphold the principles of sustainable development and promote gender equality. This study therefore analyzes the extent of compliance with these goals in the process of urban development in Nigeria. rural development policy

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