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Towards Sustainable Land Governance in Climate Induced Regions: a participant's learning journey

About the writer: Ashiru Bello

My contact with IHS (Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies) commenced in 2008 while I was working as a Town Planning Officer in the Ministry of Lands and Housing in the city of Sokoto, North-West Nigeria. I finally got accepted to IHS in 2010 for ICHUD92. The 2019 Lagos programme was a great opportunity to refresh me on my ICHUD specialisation of Land Development Strategies. Quite timely.

The Content(s) of the course I found most useful

It is quite a difficult decision to for me to judge a particular content of the Lagos RC as being most useful. However, I will highlight the key components of the course and indicate my reasons for considering them very useful, perhaps in their order of strength to me.

1) The dominant theme has been Land Governance which incidentally happened to be my specialisation at IHS. I feel it is important because many of the development challenges I observed in Sokoto and Zaria (where I work now) are often traceable to issues related to good governance. Land governance is at the centre of this. Post 2010, I picked interest in understanding how land is used and misused and, at a point even reflected on how some culturally sensitive issues are used to provide a basis for misusing land thereby undermining cities’ liveability. Similarly, prior to 2010, we (department of Urban and Regional Planning of Ahmadu Bello University) initiated a pilot project at a neighbourhood near the university, on land management and regularisation of ‘informal’ settlements. The project was pursued as a planning studio for different sets of students in the department. More recently, a number of states government in the northern part of this country have initiated comprehensive land management projects beginning with land data capture and registration. The states include Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa and my state (Sokoto). There have been ideas sharing between me and some colleagues involved in the Kaduna, Kano and Bauchi pilots under the GEMs III project, and also how the idea extended to agricultural lands under the NIRSAL (Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending). These and a couple of other reasons including advisory roles that I am often required to play regarding state and land matters, have made this component quite useful to me.

a. Land court – arguing on real land issues!

b. Action Planning – understanding and working with stakeholders

2) The second component that I found equally useful is the Climate Change particularly issues having to do with Nature-Based Solutions to climate change. Recently, I became very interested in energy issues and the nexus between poverty, household energy demand and the efficacy of our energy reforms. There seem to be a deliberate government effort to curb deforestation through positive incentives for cooking gas and negative ones towards kerosene. The problem is how can the ‘great green wall’ project survive in the most arid regions of west Africa amidst poverty which prevents access to greener sources of energy? I have learnt in the RC that much can be achieved through the consideration of nature-based solutions at the local level. Again, all these are hardly achievable under poor governance.

a. Multi Criteria Decision making – working with multiple possibilities and impossibilities

3) Opportunity for interaction with other participants

The refresher course also provided a wonderful opportunity for me to interact with participants from different places and shared memorable experiences with them. That was unforgettable!

Plan for application of the acquired skills

The course no doubt featured a considerable number of sustainable land governance instruments that can be used to capture land value increments and those that can be used to resolve some land related conflicts. This is quite important in this era of paucity of funds for delivery of urban development projects, and resource control conflicts. In practice, these instruments and others for environmental sustainability would be applied for cities like Bauchi and Sokoto where my advisory roles are needed. We already drafted a concept note to the Bauchi state governor in this regard. Regarding the theory, as a lecturer in the university at present, I already have started sharing with students what I have learnt at Lagos in the few lectures I have delivered upon return. The same will be shared with other colleagues.

Key development issues in my city(s)

As pointed out in 2.0, land governance is an issue in Sokoto, Zaria as well as Bauchi. For sure, sustainable land governance strategies and instruments can help in promoting good governance in those cities. The environmental challenges of deforestation, energy poverty and complexities of policies implementation for less violent energy sources are critical issues in these cities. A combination of sustainable land governance and realistic approaches to climate change impacts mitigation can help in addressing some of the challenges.

Excursions at the Lagos RC

While at Lagos, we have visited such places as Lekki, Makoko and Ilaje. Makoko and Ilaje are really interesting organic communities. Makoko’s case is really complex, delicate and requires careful planning for proper intervention.


The course had succeeded in refreshing our minds and fulfilled the promise of unbundling issues of sustainable land governance and how it can play a role in local economic development in climate change induced regions. However, I actually expected a more elaborate discourse on specifically issues related to local economic development in climate change induced regions. As I have commented during the course, I am sure the climate change induction we are talking about is not unrelated to our social circumstances here. This will make our local economy unique, and will certainly require unique ways (fit for purpose) for applying sustainable development instruments.

Ashiru Bello

Sokoto, 2019


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