Nigeria 2018 Environmental Performance Index Ranking and the Way to Sustainability Success

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) assessment in 2018 ranked Nigeria to a 100th position out of 180 countries in the comparative metrics, with Switzerland taking the precedent position. ’s rank is shown in Fig 1. The measurement analysis was based on 24 performance indicators across the underlisted ten issue categories relating to environmental health and ecosystem vitality.

  1. Air Quality
  2. Water and Sanitation
  3. Heavy and Metals
  4. Biodiversity & Habitat
  5. Climate and Energy
  6. Air Pollution
  7. Water Resources
  8. Fisheries
  9. Agriculture.
  10. Forests.


Fig 1. Nigeria rank on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI 2018 ).

Nigeria ranks 10th in “Climate and Energy” issue, 168th in “Water and Sanitation” and 152nd in “Air Quality”.

As listed in Table 1, the “total CO2 emissions intensity” indicator put us in the 3rd position which is the country’s highest score indicatorThis means that Nigeria is the third least contributor of CO2 among the 180 countries considered. Azerbaijan and Seychelles took the first position as they have the same score of 99.99 percent.

Table 1. Nigeria ranks and scores in 2018 EPI on climate and energy (EPI 2018).

table 1

Water and Sanitation

According to Water Aid report, two thirds (over 130 million people) of the Nigerian citizens have poor access to improve sanitation in the country and this pose a threat to the health of the growing population. One should not expect less of a nation where 57 million people don’t have access to safe drinking water.  As seen in Table 2, Nigeria has a poor score of 7.75% in “Water and Sanitation”.

Table 2. Nigeria ranks and scores in 2018 EPI on water and sanitation ( Source)

t 2

In 2017, concluded that many Nigerians are exposed to life-threatening environment due to poor sanitation and drinking water, viz. 41 percent of households in Kano don’t have improved sources of drinking water and only 8.9 percent of Lagos households have an improved drinking water source. 

Air Quality

Nigeria (2018) takes a leading edge in the air pollution global issue which is plaguing individuals across all countries and socioeconomic groups.  The country’s score is 48.08% as shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Nigeria ranks and scores in 2018 EPI on air quality 

t 3

It is quite alarming that four of the worst air polluted cities in the world are actually located in Nigeria (Onitsha, Kaduna hub, Aba and Umuahia), according to World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016. of the population in Nigeria is exposed to air pollution levels that exceeds WHO guidelines.

The way to success

On a general note, while Nigeria’s ranking improved in comparison with 2016 and 2014 performance indexes (Fig 2), the 2018 ranking is unsatisfactorily poor due to the fact that we, as a nation, have not done enough to fully explore Nigerian sustainability potentials and translating developed policies into viable actions especially in water, sanitation and air quality. As illustrated in Fig 2, the country ranked 133 (among 180 countries) and 134 (among 178 countries) positions in 2016 and 2014 respectively on the EPI.

fig 2

Fig 2. Nigeria EPI rankings from 2014 to 2018.


In 2014, the country’s framework indicator score was at 8.17% and 72.17% on “Water and Sanitation” and “Air Quality” respectively. As depicted in Fig. 3, there is an abrupt decrease in both “Water and Sanitation” and “Air Quality” performances from 2016 to 2018. This is why the country’s ranking is said to be poor despite having a higher rank in 2018 compared to the previous index years.


fig 3

Fig 3. Nigeria indicator scores in “Water and Sanitation” and “Air Quality” from 2014 to 2018.


In the context of the status quo EPI figures, there should be more local and national sustainability effort on a number of fronts, especially in the water and sanitation aspects, as well as in cleaning up the poor air quality. All hands must be on deck.

Secondly, Nigeria needs better data on sustainable agriculture, water resources, waste management, air quality and threats to biodiversity. Supporting global data systems is one of the most significant steps Nigeria can take to reifying sustainable development goals.

In addition, according to UNICEF, “Nigeria has made substantial progress in developing policies and strategies for water supply and sanitation service delivery but faces major challenges in translating these into action.” These challenges should be dealt with seamlessly.

Furthermore, there should be more and more local sustainability NGOs in creating awareness and volunteering in activities relating to water, sanitation and air quality issues both in the urban and the rural area. Activities such as road sides waste bin should be largely incorporated.

Nigeria will be a better sustainability nation if she excels to a large extent in water, sanitation and air quality.

Written by:

Abbas Lawal


Abbas Lawal has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a Master’s degree in Process/Energy technology. He has a strong interest in sustainability, renewable energy, environment, climate change and relating these with civil engineering structures. He supports our work at GHI.

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Food vs Fuel; What should Nigeria Grow their Crops For

It’s no news that power supply is erratic in Nigeria and might remain so for a very long time, in spite of generation of additional power and transmission to the grid. Prima facie, this has resulted in the dearth of factories and industries or extinguished any intention to start one. In the face of challenges like these, other alternative sources are sought for.

Katsina State Government between 1999 and 2003 started the building of a $4 million windmill power project to generate 10MW of electricity (still uncompleted for 10 years now despite the takeover of the project by the Federal Government). Kano State Government is also building  two independent hydropower dams to produce 13.7MW. And recently in November 2017, Kebbi State Government (KBSG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC) to produce 84 million litres of ethanol per annum  (a biofuel) from sugarcane and cassava. Ethanol is produced from fermenting food products like corn, sugarcane and cassava.

My knee-jerk reaction to this development wasn’t about how much energy we can get from the revenue but the holistic socio-economic impact of such a project that chooses to grow sugar for fuel production when Nigeria relies on importing 99% of its sugar needs. That is just a tip of the iceberg of the considerations that made me unsettled.

Nigeria’s population is rising rapidly. There is a huge poverty epidemic, especially in the northern part of Nigeria (where Kebbi State is located) which is severely affected by desertification. More people need to grow food to feed the starving and malnourished population on the vast available arable land facing threats of land degradation and desertification.

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The World Health Organizations puts it that a child in remote north western region in Nigeria where stunting rate is 55% is more likely to experience malnutrition than a child in the southern part of Nigeria. This unarguably puts a desperate need to ensure production of food for consumption in the north-west region and country not self-sufficient in producing most of its food needs.

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In the face of a National Sugar Masterplan (NSMP) that aims to reduce sugar importation and these chronic food problems that defines sustainable development goal 2 ‘Zero Hunger’, KBSG is on the move to launch a project to start producing ethanol from sugar and cassava plantations in the state.

What’s the cost-benefit analysis of growing more food for fuel instead of for consumption in a food insecure and malnourished country? What are the social, economic and environment impacts? Does this action spell the needed progress for the people, state and region? The debate is not just about food vs fuel, but a holistic view of other impacts on natural resources such land use, air, water, soil, biodiversity, climate change and social issues like jobs, wages, working conditions and the environmental sustainability.

Kebbi is however not the first place with the intention of starting a biofuel or more appropriately, ethanol production. One may soon emerge in Ota, Ogun State expected to produce 44 million litres per annum.

Outside the country, Brazil, with similar socio-economic conditions is one of the top 3 producers and consumers of ethanol, together with the US and the EU.

Important to mention are the merits of biofuels. Especially for Nigeria’s case is reduction of oil dependency which is enshrined the NSMP vision 2020. Perhaps this regional innovation by KBSG is a step in the right direction for energy needs. Although hugely debatable, the standard of living of the workers of this sugarcane producing ethanol plantations may increase, overtime and for a long time. State revenue, businesses may emerge to use the new energy, assuming it will be made available to them.


In Brazil, ethanol farm workers have wages better than 50% of service workers and 40% industry workers, but second to those in soybean farming. On a general scale, the average income of those workers was higher than the income of 50% of all Brazilian families. To add to the merit, the investment needed for job creation in the sugarcane sector is much lower than in other industry sectors such as chemical production, automotive industry, metallurgy, consumer goods and capital goods in Brazil.

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All these merits point in the right direction for Brazil, thanks to their Brazilian Alcohol Program (Proalcool) in 1975 to reduce their oil imports. Hence, motivation and a ready market played a huge part in the success of ethanol consumption and it has significantly impacted the country’s dependency on oil consumption for their automotive industry.

Other indirect land use changes are related to GHG emissions and climate change. Some studies depict that about 70-100% of GHG savings from sugarcane produced for ethanol can be achieved, although debatable, according to a World Bank Study of 2012.

For Nigeria, or Kebbi State in particular, all these merits have other implications and are thus questionable as to whether they can only be easily achieved through growing sugarcane and cassava for ethanol. There should be huge concerns for local food prices within the region, land prices and ownership, working conditions, biodiversity, soil, air and water pollution.

In just 5 years, prices of land more than doubled in the city of Sao Paulo in Brazil where sugarcane plantations were expanding. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported in 2007 that food prices rose by 40% in 12 months affecting major biofuel feedstocks such sugarcane, palm oil and corn. This was witnessed in countries with vast palm oil plantations such as Malaysia where prices of cooking oil sold on the street rose by 70% thus causing a huge scarcity of the product. In 2008, the New York Times reported a similar case of shortage witnessed in Indonesia too, where rainforests were cleared for palm oil plantations.

In 2007, Tanzanian rice and maize farmers lost ownership of their lands to large companies growing Jatropha and sugarcane. However, the case is not the same in Brazil where expansion of sugarcane farms didn’t affect other crops expansion. Most of the replaced lands were previously pastured lands. The case of Kebbi Sate will be an interesting one as indigenes of Koko Besse and Kalgo (target locations of the ethanol plants) are heavily involved in sugarcane production, rice farming and also pasturing.

The north western state is hugely contributing to the net country production of rice (widely touted as successful) and meat, amidst emerging anti-grazing bills, a clear action strategy and steps of how the farms for sugarcane plantation should be provided in the best interest of achieving the nation’s food security and social justice of local farmers.

The protection of local farmers and farms need to be discussed early on to prevent a hike in prices of other food items including prices of land in the poverty stricken state.

Proper environmental safeguards, sustainable land management, environment friendly ethanol factories with high efficiency and water recycling capability must be put in place. A typical case of farmers’ exploitation may emerge. Therefore, in order to ensure the protection of rights and privileges of the farmers to be employed by this project, strong workers cooperatives like PENGASSAN may need to emerge.

Bold regional projects like this are laudable only if they make productive, economic, social and environmental sense to the teeming population and the economy.

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Blog written by:

Behrendt & Rausch Fotografie

Sadiq Abubakar Gulma steers the organizational mission of GHI as the Chief Director. He is a member of the Green Talents International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development, a LEED accredited professional and has a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Follow him on Twitter @SadiqGulma


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COP 23: Two Years After Paris Agreement

November 6 – 17 2017, Bonn, the political city of West Germany played hosts to the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Although the norm has been that the country holding the presidency of the UNFCCC hosts the event, Fiji, from which the current president hails from, could not accommodate the 25,000 diplomats and ministers from across the globe. Thus, Bonn, Germany was chosen to host the event convened by the Presidency of Fiji under Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

COP23 is the second conference after the historical COP 21 otherwise called the Paris Agreement. This is also the first conference to hold after the United States under President Trump announced its intention to back out of the Paris Agreement. By many faces, it is deemed to be a very interesting and technical event as countries, delegates and policymakers continue to negotiate on the details of how to manage the menace of climate change.


Cross section of Ministers and diplomats and  at the COP 23 event in Bonn, Germany (Pic: USEA)


As the plan, COPs are held annually. COP 22, the “Implementation COP” crossed the Atlantic from Paris and held in Marrakesh, Morocco with an objective of outlining implementation plans for the Paris Agreement as well as discussing ways of water management and decarbonizing energy supplies. Despite a league of professors from high profile universities across the UK and US expressed skepticism about the Paris Agreement, the international community was once again motivated to come together and discuss how to ensure the Paris Agreement is not all an ambitious unachievable plan. The Marrakech Action Proclamation was issued by the attending presidents to reiterate their commitment to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Major Talking Points and Agreements of COP23

Trump’s decision to pull out of Paris agreement

Consolidating on the agreements reached in Paris and working on its finer details is one of the major agenda of the Bonn-in-Fiji conference. Recall that President Trump rescinded his predecessor’s commitment to the Paris Agreement already ratified by 195 countries. Although this was meted with thunderous condemnations from environmentalists, political leaders, diplomats, and business executives all around the globe,Bonn was the avenue to work on some grey areas. Trumps decision, though will not be actual effect till 2020, has emboldened China to take a major role and become a big brother.

Extreme weather and coal phase-out

Extreme weather has been on the front burner of UNFCCC conferences, it is particularly an important agenda in the COP23 event. This year, 2017 has been dubbed one of the warmest ever years, leaving many countries and continents vulnerable to disasters as it has reduced their ability to resist the effects of climate change.

The coal phase-out was another major agenda in Bonn. This was under the “Powering past coal” declaration led by the UK and Canada. The initiative is another precursor to cutting carbon emission and working towards the actualization of the Paris agreement. So far more than 20 countries have committed to the alliance.


Financing the fight against climate change has always been a major issue. Manuel de Araujo, Mayor of Quelimane rightly posited that although there is “good intention, initiatives, ideas and the technology, the money is needed to implement these good ideas”. The finance discussions held on the final day of the conference and its meeting didn’t quite end on time and amicably as there were disputes and fights over finances. Developing countries queried developed and rich countries on their plans to release funds and help them cope with the effects of climate change. In their defense, the rich countries argued that this was beyond the 2015 agreements reached upon in Paris.

Seyni Nafo, the leader of the African negotiators said that “What was promised by leaders of developed countries has not trickled down to negotiators” adding that US’ withdrawal from the Paris agreement has influenced the behavior of the developed countries despite their promise to step in regardless of Trump’s withdrawal. Through the tail end of the meeting, however, the heads of delegations agreed on put forward a proposal for resolving the dispute. The issue would be discussed and resolved in the intersessional meetings in the build-up to COP24.

Paris rulebook

Last year in Marrakesh, the COP22 resolutions included designing a technical master plan for the rules and process of the attainment of the Paris Agreement which was termed the Paris “Rulebook”. This year, it was also brought to the fore. The Ad-hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement oversees the discussions on the Paris rulebook to include setting up of NDCs, reporting climate change adaptation efforts and monitoring of the compliance of the Paris Agreement. The goal of the rulebook in this year’s COP is to create a draft of the implementation guidelines, with options and disagreements in order that grey areas be identified and resolved. The deadline for the rulebook is next year’s COP24 in Poland.

Talanoa dialogue

Originally called the “facilitative dialogue” was an adoption by the delegates in COP21 in Paris as a precursor to the Paris agreement to be a one-off moment to take stock on the gains of the actions against climate change. This year the dialogue was renamed Talanoa dialogue under the Fijian presidency and is supposed to be constructive, solution and opportunity-oriented conversation and an opportunity to be positive about it.

The dialogue has been categorized in two phases; the preparatory phase which will begin over the coming year ahead of the second phase, the political phase which will be conducted by the ministers of the next COP in Poland 2018. The phases are captured in the figures below.


Figure of the “preparatory phase” of the Talanoa dialogue. Source: UNFCCC.


Figure of the “political phase” of the Talanoa dialogue. Source: UNFCCC

What Next?

To put things clear, The Paris Agreement hasn’t officially come into action till 2018. All that has happened from COP21 was putting first things first before it becomes actionable by 2020. However, this doesn’t mean committed countries won’t do anything they mentioned. In fact, many are already stemming up the efforts.

However, notable issues to address before the next COP is US leadership and role in the agreement. The US has a commitment to provide climate adaptation financing and has also been pivotal it the success of previous COPs. With the current Trump leadership, a dark cloud seems to loom, despite France’s and many other developed countries effort in cushioning US blow.

When the document is finalized next year, its tick-tock before 2023 when all 196 countries are obligated to submit the achievements of their INDCs.

COP24 is taking place in Katowice Poland December next year and we hope to see the finalization of the Paris Agreement and the first set of responses to the Talanoa dialogue.

Blog written by Abdulmumin.

IMG_0004 copyAbdulmumin Tanko has a master’s degree in Civil Engineering with an insatiable desire for research and writing. A staunch environmental enthusiast and a fervent campaigner for environmental consciousness, he works to break the silence and end the nescience, largely responsible for environmental indiscretion. He believes that a serene and safer environment begins with YOU. Follow him on Twitter @Tikaysmalls

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Follow up on Nigeria’s Commitment to COP21 – The Implementation of NDC

It is almost two years since the international community adopted the historic climate deal at the 21st conference of parties (COP21) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The primary goal of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the ensuing threats of climate change by taking measures to limit global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius. Nigeria is among the 169 countries (of the 197 parties to the convention) that ratified the agreement.

A key requirement from the Paris Agreement was the development of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) by all parties. The INDCs, which later became nationally determined contributions (NDCs), are expected to reflect the best effort of a country in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Like other parties, Nigeria prepared and submitted its INDC to the UNFCCC at the climate convention in 2015.  In this article, we will review the targets set in the document, what it means to Nigerians, the progress so far, and what stakeholders are doing to make it a success.

Nigeria’s INDC/NDC at a glance

The full document submitted by Nigeria can be found here, and an executive summary here. Even though the country is neither industrialized nor among the so-called newly industrialized nations, much is expected from her, being the biggest economy in Africa. The INDC outlines ambitious policy measures aimed at incorporating sustainability in economic development with a significant reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emission. The implementation period is expected to be from 2015 to 2030. It is important to mention that the INDC was supposed to be translated into a workable NDC, but the same document was forwarded to the UNFCCC as Nigeria’s first NDC.

Based on current statistics, emissions are projected to reach 900 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2030 under business as usual scenario. Nigeria pledges a reduction of these emissions by 20% independently and possibly attain 45% reduction with the support of the international community through finance and investment. Notably, the country intends to put an end to gas flaring, improve energy efficiency by 30%, add 13 GW of renewable electricity to the grid, improve public transportation, and establish climate-smart agriculture and reforestation within the implementation timeline.

Similar to submissions by other countries, the proposed NDC does not elaborate how key stakeholders, namely the government, industries, NGOs and the masses can work together to achieve the ambitious goals. Nevertheless, it cited Nigeria Climate Change Policy Response and Strategy (NCCPRS), appropriate line ministries and agencies as being responsible for its implementation. Whether detailed action plans are available for them to follow is not clear.


Key Targets of the NDC (Image by NIAFNG.ORG)

What the NDC means for Nigerians

The Paris agreement strongly underscored the collective global effort as key to the success of the fight against climate change. Emission of GHGs vary disproportionately among countries, yet the repercussions would affect all and sundry. In fact, Africa is expected to be one of the continents hardest hit by climate change through severe floods, droughts, and storms despite being among the least GHGs contributors. These impacts are already palpable in many parts of the country.

The implementation of Nigeria’s NDC alongside the global community will contribute to the stabilization of the climate thereby reducing the chances of more dire effects. Meanwhile, the measures to be taken have potentials of transforming the economy and creating more opportunities for everyone in the short run. In facts, the government the projects to be implemented are expected to create job opportunities and direct income for the citizens. Moreover, improvement of habitats and agricultural lands would have a positive impact on food security. Quality of life will also improve if pollution and climate-related diseases are tackled.

Implementation of the NDC

Analysts have for long noted lack of commitment with regards to policy implementation to be a major problem in many developing countries, including Nigeria. It is now two years since it has been developed, one must be wondering, how much has been achieved so far?

In December 2016, the then minister of environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, stated that the government would begin the implementation of the NDC this year starting with Green Bonds project. Green bonds are loans obtained by issuers (usually governments) with a sole purpose of financing green projects. Later in May, the former minister reaffirmed at a UN conference that the green bond would be launched in the coming few weeks. The initiative is expected to generate billions of Naira to fund renewable energy, transport, and agriculture projects. Importantly, a green bond advisory group (GBAG) has been established by the ministry which is already working with various stakeholders to make it a reality. In addition, the 2017 budget has earmarked over N12 billion for the green projects expected to commence in the third quarter.

The effort by the government to opt into the green bond market is laudable especially considering the fact that it has been around for a decade with no African country taking an interest. Never the less, there is still a need for strong commitment on putting words into action.

If the implementation of the green projects eventually begins this year, various aspects of the INDC i.e. renewable energy, reforestation, and climate education would have been launched. As for gas flaring, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently boasted of cutting it down from 36% to 10% in the past 10 years. It is not clear whether the ministry of environment has a revised strategy of working with NNPC to end the flaring by 2020. What is being done to implement other measures such as climate-smart agriculture, climate-smart cities, and transport shift to mass transit is yet to be seen.

Having said that, it is important for the government to understand that the goal set in the NDC cannot be achieved through these few clean-up projects while activities that generate GHGs are getting more attention. As pointed out by Greg Odogwu recently, government’s commitment to COP21 is questionable because some new national policies and action plans contradict the NDC. These include the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) that demands an urgent increase in oil and gas production and the Nigeria’s Coal Power Project. If we are truly committed to a better future,  the objectives of the NDC must be incorporated in all national projects.

Way forward

Considering that the Paris Agreement expects parties to report their progress on NDCs every two years and that the agreement came into force on 4 November 2016, Nigeria is not late putting the proposed plan into action. What is important having a workable project plan that would ensure the attainment of the goals set by 2030. The measures can be taken concurrently (which is desirable because they are interrelated) or sequentially, depending on our capacity. I would expect the government to be resolute on achieving the unconditional contributions without having to wait on external funding.

Translation of the NDC into a practical and actionable plan that incorporates all relevant actors is crucial and should be the significant first step to be taken. This may perhaps be done with relevant players and actors from the sectors in order to ensure plans made are pragmatic.

These actors may be farmers, marketers, conservationists, environmental NGOs etc. who can play a significant role but only if they are involved. Government must be very proactive in playing this role.

An associated step to be taken with the translation action mentioned above is capacity building among the players as well as adequate training with respect to policy translation, implementation, monitoring, and reporting of results. What many players need including the supervising/regulatory government is sufficient understanding of the issues at stake and defining how to implement, monitor and report climate friendly strategies and emissions reductions.

A clear methodology on monitoring emissions and other climate data should be defined for emission related organizations. An effective monitoring may be digitized and frequently updated for faster dissemination of results.

Youth and youth-led organizations should also be involved in all stages for many reasons. They currently make up the highest percentage of the population and would live longer to feel the negative impacts of climate change. A structured mechanism of involving them must be in place to ensure their contributions and views are considered.

It is also important to ensure that policies do not remain on paper as it has been the practice in many sectors. This can be achieved through proper follow-up and effective communication between parties involved. Partisanship must also be avoided in all phases of the projects so that change of government would not lead to abandonment.

The effects of climate change on Nigeria’s economy, environment and communities have already manifested. The cannot be a better time for a collective intervention for a better and sustainable future.

Written by Sada.

sadaSada Haruna  is the IT strategist at Green Habitat and a contributor to the blog. He is a PhD student in the department of Environmental Engineering at the University of Ottawa. His current research focuses on safe disposal of toxic mine wastes and remains an ardent advocate of environmental sustainability. He enjoys reading and coding at his leisure time. Follow him on Twitter @H_Sadah


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Re-cap: One Environment Hybrid + EU Climate Diplomacy Week

From the Monday the 3rd of July to the 8th of July, an Environment festival took place in the city of Abuja. The festival is an advocacy push to protect our precious environment presented through art exhibitions, workshops, seminars, presentations and film screenings by notable speakers and organizations. Much of the events of the festival took place at the British Council with a few taking place at the Embassy of Germany, House 33, Thought Pyramid Art Centre and elsewhere.

One Environment Hybrid is a composition of different organizations with different missions but who have solemnly agreed to come under one voice and speak for the need for environmental conservation and protection. Founded and co-curated by Artist Ifesinachi Comedy Nwanyanwu of House 33, One Environment is celebrating its 2nd annual festival. Due to the unity and support for environment, One Environment fused together with the European Union in Nigeria to celebrate its climate diplomacy week.


Organizing team of One Environment + EU Climate Diplomacy Week

There were different art exhibitions staged at the British Council and the Thought Pyramid Art Centre. The exhibitions on display at the British Council were images of the environmental degradation of the Niger Delta and artwork made from used material (plastics and other trash). Different speakers spoke about the needs for recycling, cleaner fuels, innovations in environmental sustainability, conservation of our parks, affordable homes, etc.

Award winning documentary of Leonardo DeCaprio’s Before the Flood was filmed at the British Council. Another film, Demain, shot by French Filmmakers was also aired at the German Embassy.

On Friday, the voice was taken out to Baze University, where different speakers addressed the students on different issues concerning youth development and environmental sustainability. Green Habitat was fortunate to be represented and its Director, Sadiq Gulma spoke to the students on the role of youths in driving regional innovation that solves environmental challenges. Thereafter, Green Habitat facilitated a workshop on how to create innovations at the British Council.

The week concluded by a session hosted by the Head of Programmes at Channels Television, on environmental journalism together with other journalists.

Even though the festival ended, more sessions will be organized by different member organizations of the One Environment throughout the year before the third One Environment Festival in 2018. For up to date activities happening in the environment sector in Abuja, follow our Facebook Page here. To see the full schedule of what has transpired, please visit

Blog written by Sadiq.

Behrendt & Rausch Fotografie

Sadiq Abubakar Gulma steers the organizational mission of GHI as the Chief Director. He is a member of the Green Talents International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development, a LEED accredited professional and has a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering. His research interest and work lie in investigating and improving the thermal conditions of urban built environments. Follow him on Twitter @SadiqGulma

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Deliberations of the Panel Discussion on Sustainability in Architecture in Nigeria

The built environment is responsible for the largest consumption of energy produced in the world. They have a corresponding largest global greenhouse gas emission by sector, 40% according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). How does this all affect us and the environment? Negative impacts of climate change have positioned many people in danger. It has destroyed lives and properties. Worse, it places a dark cloud for future generations. As such, there is need to reduce the impact of our built environment on the carbon footprint.

The French Institute of Nigeria and Green Habitat Initiative, on 31st of May in Abuja, brought together professionals in the built environment industry to debate the right sustainability principles and materials for Nigeria’s built environment. Four panelists drawn from different disciplines and professions that cut across sustainability in architecture were brought together to lead the discussion. After introductory speeches by the panelists, a panel discussion held between the panelists, moderated by the Director of Green Habitat Initiative Sadiq Gulma.

A summary of the viewpoints of the four panelists is highlighted below.

Nmadili Okwumabua is Nigerian and promotes modernizing African architecture in Nigeria’s cities, through her organization Community Planning and Design Initiative. Through her presentation and contributions to the discussion, she stressed the need to reclaim our heritage by not being embarrassed about using red earth for our buildings in Abuja. Through her organization, Nmadili receives entries of architectural plans modernized with African values from everyone around the globe. She has received many great entries reflecting numerous African culture and values in their design. The panelist revealed she is currently building a prototype of such sustainable houses. The model would be instrumental in advancing the movement.

Having expressed her pessimism at the beginning of her presentation, Armelle Choplin our second panelist has been following cement, what she calls ‘the grey gold’ from Nigeria through Benin, Togo to Ghana. She is concerned that Nigeria may not stop using cement in building because it is becoming cheaper and Dangote Industries is providing all the cement Nigeria needs. Through her research, she has discovered there is a social symbol and even political to the use of cement in our buildings. People who use other materials, such as red earth maybe seen as less privileged. There is a challenge of finding skilled local builders to teach foremen how to use red mud in constructing strong buildings that can go as high as 10 story building. For a paradigm shift to take place, she asserts that notable and prominent people and organizations like Dangote would play an influential role if they take the lead.

Sustainability in Architecture (41)

Professor Choplin

Having understood the local issues with the building materials in question, Mr. Stephanne Pouffary was on the panel to provide the macro vision of sustainability in cities. Through his NGO, ENERGIES 2050 he has worked with up to 30 cities all over the world including those in West Africa to help them advance their energy efficiency and sustainability goals. His contribution clarified that different cities have different priorities and motivation to go green. Our ability to personalize the codes that will drive everyone to cleaner cities. For that to work, he highlighted 3 things that needs to be done; increase professionals’ capacity in sustainability, form regional coalitions to promote goals and work out the cost benefit analysis for sustainability to go mainstream. At the end, cost drives everything.

All the talk would be in vain if there are no institutionalized policies to control and regulate the built environment. The fourth panelist, Dr. Sherif Y. Razak who is from the Department of Development Control (authority in charge of approving all building plans and development in Abuja) was on the panel to describe what the government is doing and needs to do. Currently, the Department has instituted a green building committee to vet all building submissions against certain green building concepts. However, a lot needs to be done before a bigger impact can be made. He stressed the need to increase capacity amongst professionals, including government staff. A prototype of buildings with such sustainability standards would be pivotal in influencing building policy and regulations. Therefore, what Ms Nmadili is building should serve as a good reference point for policy makers to use in changing the regulations.

After debating amongst each other, the panelists engaged with the teeming audience. Many shared their views and supported the fact that capacity needs to increase, especially amongst architects who are the chief drivers of the built environment. Many others questioned the officer from the Department of Development Control and their need to enforce the principles.

Sustainability in Architecture (39)

The event concluded with more discussions amongst participants during the cocktail.


Written by Sadiq.

Behrendt & Rausch FotografieSadiq Abubakar Gulma steers the organizational mission of Green Habitat. He is a member of the Green Talents International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development, a LEED accredited green building professional and has a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering. His research interest and work lie in investigating and improving the thermal conditions of urban built environments. Follow him on Twitter @SadiqGulma

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Urbanization and Rise of slums: An Imbalance Between Urban Growth and Urban Development

The prevalence of slums and shanties, a.k.a. ghettoes is a consequence of development where urban growth does not match urban development. It is a classical case of non-enforcement of regulations guiding urban development. In many urban cities in Nigeria, people of similar social classes are found living in the same neighborhood.

The rich and powerful are found in the expensive city centers, with the best social amenities, good road networks with drainages and streetlights for their exotic cars, posh buildings, round-the-clock power and water supply, security and large commercial complexes. Next to these are the well-to-do with decent amenities and social structures; while farther away in the slums and suburbs are those at the bottom of the pyramid where everything is poor and poverty defines everything the senses see, feel, taste, smell and touch.

Design, review, regulation, and enforcement of strict adherence to master plans rest on the shoulders of urban development authorities. A master plan is conceptualized as a document which provides long-term plans and vision for a city. It contains and gives guide for appropriate land use identifying locations for commercial, residential, industrial, and mixed-uses as well as the population densities in the areas and provides protection for the environment as well as cultural and historic sites. It is designed to as much as possible provide comfort, convenience, safety, public health and general welfare of the populace.

However, adherence to master plans and enforcement is lacking in many instances in Nigeria, hence the rise and development of slums and shanties. A slum according to UN-HABITAT, is defined as a household with individuals living under the same roof lacking durable housing, sufficient living space, and access to basic amenities including water, sanitation and security of tenure against eviction.

They are some of the most environmentally unsafe areas often characterized by settlements on steep slopes and hillsides or flood plains.  Moreover, slum sites are also found near polluting factories and industries, solid waste dumps, sewers, and open drains among others. The settlements are made of sub-standard materials like rotten timber, corrugated iron sheets, thatched hay and mud bricks.

mpape slum

A slum in Mpape, Abuja (Source:

The United Nations reports that over 54% of the world’s population is living in urban areas and projected to rise up to 66% by 2050. In Nigeria, the World Bank statistics showed that about 50% of Nigeria’s total population is living in urban areas. As at 2010, the urbanization rate of Nigeria was 3.5%. The latest statistics now puts our urban migration at a rate of 4.66% per annum.

An unbalanced relationship between urban growth and urban development results in the rise of slums. Crime rate, drug abuse, social vices and abuses are high here because there is no security presence. Teenage pregnancy, promiscuity, maternal and child mortality, outbreak of diseases and water-related deaths, poverty and illiteracy are also high as a result of underdevelopment and absence of quality education, health, clean water and sanitation. These slum-related issues are ever increasing in these societies.

The development of slums is a consequence of a number of factors, principal among which is rapid population growth and urbanization without adequate and affordable housing and infrastructures to commensurate this growth. Others are the ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor, rural-urban migration, poor housing planning, poverty, lack of or progressive decay of infrastructural facilities and economic stagnation and war.

But how does slum settlement affect the environment?

Slum squatters in addition to living in risky conditions create environmental problems which aggravate and exacerbate the already squalid situation they contend with, beset with poor water and insanitary conditions and the signature conscienceless socio-cultural value.

  1. Water supply, sewage and waste disposal systems

Water is a basic necessity for life. The availability and quality of this life-giving resource directly affects the quality of life. Clean water is almost nonexistent in these areas; squatters obtain water from alternative sources mostly unsafe, resulting in waterborne diseases as cholera and diarrhea. Waste disposal and sanitation facilities especially domestic solid wastes are poor. Most of the people defecate directly on open lands and ditches and in rivers and canals. They release wastes directly into open areas, drainages, low-lying lands, open spaces and into water bodies causing many problems. These places become the breeding places for rodents and other disease causing organisms.

  1. Congestion, substandard housing

The quality of housing is decrepit, poor and substandard and families are usually found to be heavily congested in single rooms made of corrugated sheets or timber without toilets, leaking roofs and crappy windows which do not favor ventilation. Diseases are found rampant here.

  1. Deforestation, displacement and pollution

The emergence of slums results in deforestation, displacement of endangered species, pollution of natural waters threatening the existence of aquatic life, destruction of natural habitat, and removal of vegetation cover leaving lands susceptible to erosion. The open dumping of refuse makes the area an eye sore and produces very bad air while at the same time polluting the waters. The burning of refuse also releases thick smokes souring in the atmosphere and releasing nitrous gases, methane gases and CO2.


Slums pollute the land and nearby water bodies (Source: Africa Ranking)

  1. Straining available resources

Where master plans are not strictly adhered to, it results in haphazard developments which will in turn affect the government’s plan on the facilities and resources provided. When the city is designed for say 1000 inhabitants, the facilities provided would be for 1000 persons. Now, when more than this number resides in the city, the facilities become strained and unable to go round. In the end, people will have to provide themselves with the facilities/amenities from alternate sources or at best ration the available. In the course of providing themselves with the facilities in question, they alter the natural environment and adding strains to the available finite resources provided by nature.

Adherence to master plans makes it easy for cities to grow and flourish and easily identifies areas for remodeling, re-development and improvement. It has become necessary that government at all levels and across board work to bridge the gap in housing, poverty, and infrastructure so that the rise and development of slums can be checked. The regulating authorities must be reinforced with all they need to work and stop further development of slums and shanties which will consequently make redesign, redevelopment and urban renewal easier.

Blog written by Abdulmumin.

IMG_0004 copyAbdulmumin Tanko has a master’s degree in Civil Engineering with an insatiable desire for research and writing. A staunch environmental enthusiast and a fervent campaigner for environmental consciousness, he works to break the silence and end the nescience, largely responsible for environmental indiscretion. He believes that a serene and safer environment begins with YOU. Follow him on Twitter @Tikaysmalls

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