A Framework for Creating Sustainable and Resilient Cities in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria through Harnessing the Opportunities of its Oil-Induced Rapid Urbanisation

  • Lilian Smart

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Globally, rapid urbanisation has been noted as among the characteristic features of the 21st century. Different countries experience diverse rates of urbanisation which occurs with or without development. Scholars reveal that the urbanisation occurring in most oil-rich developing countries like Nigeria and its Niger Delta region is rapid, unplanned, and without development. According to the existing literature, oil rather than development sufficiently explains the rapid urbanisation of these countries. Unfortunately, Nigeria and its Niger Delta region is among such countries with oil-induced rapid urbanisation. Statistical projection shows that between 2014 to 2050, Nigeria will add 212 million people to its urban population, more than tripling its current size. Conventional wisdom argues that this type of oil-related rapid urbanisation without development results in various challenges such as increased environmental degradation, increased pollution, inadequate housing, and increased urban disaster risks. This is exactly the situation in Nigeria and its Niger Delta region. Research reveals that even though the region is an oil-rich region, it suffers challenges such as abject poverty, unemployment, worsening environmental degradation, and increased disaster risks, yet urbanises rapidly. It has been noted that these challenges negate the efforts geared towards the achievement of the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs) agenda in the region. However, another line of argument notes that despite these challenges, rapid urbanisation presents opportunities that can be harnessed for development. Indeed, this is a change in basic assumptions from thinking about the challenges of urbanisation to thinking about the opportunities it presents and harnessing them for development. To further lay credence to this paradigm shift, the New Urban Age Agenda lays emphasis on the need for countries to take advantage of the opportunities of urbanisation for economic development. Notwithstanding this emphasis, scholars writing on the region seem silent over the opportunities that urbanisation presents to the region; and how to harness them for the development of the region.Accordingly, this study is a response to the emphasis of the New Urban Age Agenda by addressing this gap. The gap was addressed by developing a framework for creating sustainable and resilient cities by harnessing the opportunities of rapid urbanisation in the region. The researcher adopted a qualitative research design with the use of interviews and focus group discussions as its data collection techniques. Prior to the data collection, a detailed literature review was conducted around such central concepts of the study as oil, migration, urbanisation, and development. This helped to create the research background and address research objective 1. After the initial data collection to address research objectives 2 to 4, the researcher then conducted several expert interviews to validate the findings. Also, to achieve research objective 5, expert interviews were conducted first to generate the initial findings and framework, and then another round of expert interviews were conducted to validate the framework. Importantly, the findings revealed several opportunities of rapid urbanisation in the region such as job opportunities, political opportunities, and talent development opportunities. Findings also reveal such factors as diversification of the economy, investing in youth development, granting loans to thriving enterprises, capacity building and empowerment as ways to harness the identified opportunities for development. Furthermore, findings established that sustainable and resilient cities in the context of the region are cities characterised by the provision of quality education, resettlement of residents in disaster-prone areas with alternative livelihoods, adequate and affordable healthcare facilities, and strict adherence to the principle of building back better in all the infrastructural facilities as the constituents of the optimal framework for creating sustainable and resilient cities. Lastly, findings revealed several ways to create sustainable and resilient cities in the region and this include the implementation of people-centred policies, ensuring political stability, adoption of bottom-up approach in city development, reduction of urban vulnerability and investment in sustainable and resilient infrastructural facilities. Accordingly, the study strongly recommends that the governing authorities act by turning the outcome of this research into actionable policies. By so doing, the study will not only contribute to the existing literature, theory, and practice via the validated framework, it will also hugely facilitate the achievement of the SDGs goals, particularly SDG 11.
Date of Award7 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDilanthi Amaratunga (Main Supervisor) & Richard Haigh (Co-Supervisor)

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