This post was first published on the International Federation for Housing and Planning blog and reprinted with permission.
The city of Ibadan located in the South-West of Nigeria is the third most populous city in the country. With a current population of over six million residents, it started out in the 1800’s as a refugee camp with an estimated 80,000 inhabitants. The close proximity to the country’s economic heart of Lagos and Ibadan’s unique identity of being the ‘pacesetter’ for the country establishing several firsts including the first University, first TV station and first skyscraper, has led to rapid urbanization and growth. Yet to date, urbanization has largely been un-planned with the city not benefiting from a development plan which has attributed to several challenges now faced by the city, especially to flooding.
Ibadan has a long history of flooding disasters with the most recent in 2011 that caused damage and destruction to critical infrastructure and buildings, and the loss of lives of hundreds of citizens. This led to the Oyo State Government to request technical and financial support from the World Bank Group to build back better the damaged infrastructure and to enhance the city’s resilience to flooding.
This brought about the inception of the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project (IUFMP) a $200 million project from the International Development Association (IDA). One of the key components of the project was to finance a series of strategic studies, namely i) the city masterplan, ii) a solid waste management masterplan, and iii) a flood risk management and drainage masterplan. Combined, these three masterplans would provide the government with a wealth of data rich tools to assist in decision making to enhance the resilience of the city to becoming a more sustainable and prosperous city for all citizens.
The city masterplan was launched in early 2016 and from the outset it was set to be a multi-stakeholder engagement and participatory process throughout the development of the masterplan. By including several government ministries, academia, technical experts and citizens, it was ensured that the vision for the masterplan represented the widest possible views and concerns of the residents of Ibadan. Ensuring that stakeholder engagement was a central tool adopted during the development of the masterplan which assisted in getting the highest level of ownership from the Government and citizens to initiate the planning reforms once the masterplan was adopted.
What’s a stakeholder engagement?
Stakeholder engagement has been defined as “a two-way, continuous process of communication between a project and each of its stakeholders which continues throughout the life of the project”. This essential process of stakeholder engagement was adopted for the development of the city masterplan to help build a consensus for the strategy with support from all stakeholders.
The stakeholder engagement was held by way of holding a series of interviews, workshops, presentations and exhibitions, in which valuable information and feedback was gained from those who live and work within Ibadan. This meant giving Ibadan’s residents the opportunity to discuss and debate emerging ideas at all stages of the masterplan's development. Information from those sessions was fed back into the final iteration of the city masterplan.
It was interesting to contrast the comments made by those with the most pressing local concerns (such as the need for more public toilets) and the more theoretical approaches to master plan development (prompting questions about its concentric or multi‑polar nature, for example) as raised by local academics.
The insight gained was invaluable in preparing a master plan that was conscious and inclusive of both community needs and design standards. This approach of stakeholder engagement in spatial planning is another first for the city however the tremendous efforts can all be undone if the masterplan is not adopted into law and implemented. Sadly from past experience this is often where the masterplanning process fails, thankfully to date the commitment from the leadership from Oyo State Government to continue the momentum to implementation seem positive.
In addition to the stakeholder engagement workshops for the development of the masterplan, the World Bank team along with the consultants organized several knowledge exchanges with cities both within Nigeria and internationally for government officials to gain greater insights on how to implement such masterplans. Experience has shown us that often the how is a more complex process than the what.
The transfer of knowledge workshops and study tours highlighted three key areas for the successful implementation of the Ibadan City Masterplan, i) establishing strong institutions and policies, ii) continuous engagement and updating of the masterplan, and iii) to identify priority issues with a phased approach with clear financing strategies.
Whilst the Oyo State Government should be commended for their achievements to date on the inclusive development process for the masterplan, which also includes being recognized and awarded by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) the International Excellence of Planning Award, the next steps of ratifying and implementation can often be seen as the greatest hurdle. Undertaking this holistic approach has gone a tremendous way of galvanizing decisions makers along with citizens of Ibadan to take these fundamental next steps to avoid this critical document becoming shelved gaining dust.