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Strategies for improving the built environment

For a healthy environment and quality standard of living, there is a need to implore strategies to save our built environment from degeneration.

The incidence of poor housing quality in Nigeria and the negative effects emanating from it is quite worrisome. Nigeria has a wide range of severely degenerated urban environment resulting from the rapid rate of urbanization. In view of this, there is need to improve them and reduce environmental degeneration

Therefore, governments at various levels must step in and “help” the citizens. Also, international agencies must assist in the spirit of the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development. These tools should be used effectively to ensure a healthier urban development for sustainable human development. To achieve this process we must do the following.

Creation of aesthetics value and beautification of urban environment
Architecture of the environment can satisfy some of the psychological needs of the people in a community. Visual pleasures relax a troublesome heart and aids longevity. The psychological impact of a pleasant surrounding is of considerable help in fostering a spirit of community belonging, civic pride, integration and enjoyment. Good landscaping is a powerful tool to achieve a pleasant environment. Landscaping contributes to visual satisfaction, which has a profound effect on the psychological nature of man. Therefore, developments should attempt to provide for aesthetics and beautification especially through the creation of open spaces of a design quality to accompany such development. A Beautiful environment and community can be created only through a deliberate search for beauty, backed by a lively appreciation of the visual world by the people.

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Development of urban and rural settlements
The government must ensure that all our urban and rural settlements are developed in an orderly fashion to achieve goals and objectives of good planning. Therefore, the three tiers of government should take urgent steps to stem the degradation of urban settlement caused through lack of adequate planning.

Stimulation of an effective urban and rural development programme
Motivation of effective urban and rural development programme by the provision of basic amenities, services and infrastructural facilities would encourage development in the rural areas and consequently, serve as growth poles and springboards for the redistribution of population and traffic patterns for balanced development.

Efforts of international agencies
Continuation of efforts of international agencies by being supportive of their programmes aimed at improving our environment. For instance, the World Bank has been involved in some urban renewal projects to ensure better environment; through UNDP- Assisted projects. These UNDP-Assisted projects have helped to deliver better quality and cost-effective basic services to urban residents especially the poor. Most of these projects were a response to rapid and unplanned urban growth, often on environmentally vulnerable land with poor infrastructure. It is necessary that these efforts should be supported by the various tiers of government, that is, federal, states and local governments for good housing development.

It is imperative that the international agencies should be directly involved in their own initiated projects to achieve better results. This is important, because funds previously donated by these international agencies were diverted; while the donors’ intentions were ignored and neglected.

Enlightenment and education of people on sanitation and environmental matters
The provision of facilities required for achieving good disposal systems are measures that favour preventive environmental decay. The availability of incinerators, septic tanks and soak away pits and the use of water closets as contained in the Environmental Sanitation Programme instituted by the Federal Government in 1984 are good measures taken which is helping tremendously to improve housing quality.

The Waste to Wealth (Recycling) programme of the Lagos State Government is very commendable. Other state governments and Local Government Authorities in the country must join in eradicating from our markets heaps of refuse which litter the environment.

Strict adherence to standard of living.
Standards for housing, which prescribes minimum conditions under which a building, or part of it, may be lawfully occupied as a dwelling are strictly adhered to. Therefore, the need to respect laws regulating zoning, setbacks and adequate ventilation is very vital. Cross-ventilation which is one of the design considerations for buildings helps to reduce the high interior temperature, achieve thermal comfort in buildings, and achieve a state of dryness in the rooms.

If these recommendations are implemented, our cities will grow in an environmentally harmonious way. Further unplanned growth and decay would be checked and prevented. These measures would prevent poor housing quality, save our built environment and improve the life expectancy of the average Nigerian

Read also: Lagos State plans ‘Metropolitan Park’

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