In Abuja, rapid urbanization over the years has left indigenous Gbagyi settlements neglected even in the presence of overwhelming development. This has left what is essentially a modern city with small pockets of underdeveloped areas all over the city. This poses not only a problem for the city as a whole but also the environment in which they are located. This also means that the inhabitants live in sub-standard conditions amidst environmental degradation. The study aims to propose an alternative solution to the relocation model currently in place by the government, to design a settlement that will meet the needs of the inhabitants while also maintaining the integrity of the environment. The research poses key questions of what principles will be relevant in achieving the desired aim and how can a stepwise process be formulated for the integration of said principles into a design proposal. As the study is mostly qualitative in nature, most data is collected through a questionnaire survey and key informant interviews. The research also uses the case study approach in studying the current state of the Gbagyi settlements. The research finds that many of the settlements under study face the mostly the same problems of under development and overcrowding. In some cases they also face the problem of misappropriated land use. In conclusion, the thesis outlines the process for the implementation of the design of Gbagyi housing settlements within the prevailing city identifying the framework through which it environmental sustainability principles can be integrated into a design. It culminates in a demonstration of how a selected settlement could be designed using the process outlined in the framework.
This chapter serves as an introduction to the dissertation. It aims to shed more light on the topic, give a concise problem statement, provide a reasonable scope, state clear aims of the research and also outline why this research is significant in today’s society.
1.2 Background of the Study
Housing provision is one of the major challenges facing mankind in the twenty-first century. Although studies have shown that the problem of housing is universal, it is however more critical in less developed countries (LDCs), including Nigeria. The challenge of housing the poor is particularly acute in the urban areas of LDCs where an explosive expansion of the urban population due to a high population growth rate and massive rural-urban drift has compounded the housing situation (Olotuah and Bobadoye 2009).
Housing is very fundamental to the welfare, survival and health of individuals. This is why international concern has been growing over the deteriorating housing conditions in urban areas of developing nations, Central and Eastern Europe (UN 1996). In view of this, housing provision for all citizens of a nation is not just an indicator of the success of that nation but also a fundamental human right.
The Gbagyi people are the original inhabitants of the land that Abuja occupies today. The challenges they face in the advent of massive transformation of their serene agrarian settlements is immense (Olabode, 2010). In recent times, the rapid development of the city of Abuja has engulfed many of the settlements of the Gbagyi people. Unfortunately this development has always been around these settlements but never within them. The population of the city of Abuja in the F.C.T. has increased tremendously and is still on the increase due to urbanization. Urbanization refers to the expansion in the proportion of a population living in urban areas to those living in rural areas. It represents the movement of people from rural areas to urban areas with population growth equating to urban migration. Nigeria has been no exception to this trend as it has one of the highest urban growth rates in the world. Not only is the country experiencing one of the fastest rates of urbanization in the world, its experience has also been unique in scale, pervasiveness and historical antecedents. This process has resulted in a very dense network of urban centres of which Abuja is an example. The proportion of the Nigerian population living in urban centres has therefore increased phenomenally over the years. Over 40% of Nigerians now live in urban centres of varying sizes (Adesoji, 2011). Due to this rapid increase in population, there has been a great increase in housing demand in these urban centres.
Housing affordability has been widely recognized as an essential issue in creating sustainable built environment especially in the context of developing world cities. Consequently, global efforts at meeting human needs for shelter found expression in its inclusion among the objectives of sustainable development programme and the Habitat Agenda agreed to by the International Community at Istanbul, Turkey in 1996 (Afolabi, 2011). In Abuja, high property costs has compelled most residents to seek shelter in Gbagyi settlements within the city, satellite towns and in some cases neighbouring states. The settlements are very attractive to the lower income class who work in the city but want to avoid the long commutes associated with living in areas far from the city itself. As such, people view these settlements as pockets of affordable housing within what is otherwise an “expensive” city (Abdullahi, 2014).
When studying the goals, needs and possibilities of large scale residential restructuring, one frequently confronts the problem of adequate assessment of the current situation (Petras, 2013). The problems of population size and cost are some of the major factors to consider.
The subject, ‘Sustainable development’ is relevant and applicable to all areas of development and management. Its grand characteristics are its abilities to enhance, protect as well as sustain growth in all ramifications (Odebiyi, 2010). Housing is an important factor in the recognition of a society’s success among nations. It is difficult to talk about the success of a nation, or a society within a nation without analysing its housing situation (Daniel, 2009).
1.3 Problem Statement
Since the capital of Nigeria was relocated to Abuja in 1991, the area has seen rapid development and also rapid population growth via the influx of people to the city in search of jobs and prosperity. According to Sarah (2010), Abuja grew at the rate of 139.7% between the year 2000 and 2010, making it the fastest growing city in Africa. Significant population growth and lack of basic infrastructure to support the population increase has left the Gbagyi settlements in a poor state. This has led to environmental degradation in these settlements which in turn leaves the people living in these areas vulnerable to disease and other dangers posed by poor environments.
The research problem is thus; Gbagyi settlements within the city of Abuja have not been integrated with the prevailing city using principles of Environmental sustainability, this has resulted in environmental degradation and generally low standards of living within the settlements.
1.4 Aims and Objectives
The aim of this research is to integrate existing Gbagyi settlements within Abuja with the prevailing city using integrated principles of environmental sustainability. The objectives of this research therefore are as follows;
To identify the principles of environmental sustainability relevant to housing development.To evaluate the state of Gbagyi settlements within Abuja.To formulate a framework for the design of Gbagyi settlements based on identified environmental sustainability principles.To demonstrate the design of a Gbagyi settlement using the integrated principles of environmental sustainability.
1.5 Research Questions
This research intends to answer the following research questions:
What principles of environmental sustainability are relevant to housing development?What is the state of Gbagyi settlements in Abuja?How can a framework be formulated for the integration of Gbagyi settlements?Can Gbagyi settlements be designed using integrated principles of environmental sustainability?
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study covers the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) which is an area council of the F.C.T. It has been limited to AMAC because this area council represents the planned area of the Abuja metropolis. It represents a modern city and studying this area will yield more relevant conclusions with regard to the context of modern cities worldwide. This will not give a total picture of the problems faced by the low income class in other parts of the country.
This study covers the socio-cultural issues in current low income settlements and will go into detail about specific housing units and their features in these environments.
This study also covers environmental sustainability. But due to the extensive nature of the aforementioned topic, it will only be limited to concepts of environmental sustainability that directly influence mass housing.
1.7 Significance of the Study
This research seeks to explore the possibility of integrating the Gbagyi settlements found in the F.C.T. as a solution to the problem of housing faced by the indigenes of Abuja whose land is being used up. This research addresses issues that directly affect the living conditions and quality of life as a whole of the affected people. This research is also timely as it addresses some of the issues outlined by the United Nations sustainable development goals program through the use of principles of environmental sustainability in demonstrating the integration of a Gbagyi settlement with the city of Abuja. This will ensure that the environmental challenges faced by the current settlements do not re-surface after integration. Conclusions drawn by this study can be used in addressing this same issue in other cities in the country and the world at large.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
This thesis is both theory based and survey based but due to the limited documentation of Nigeria as a whole and therefore the limited documentation of Abuja also, there is a possibility that it would give an incomplete picture of the area studied. The survey tries to compensate for the limitations of the documentation through physical surveys of the areas in the study. The thesis covers the understanding of environmental sustainability especially as it relates to housing development. It studies the socio – cultural and physical aspects of these environments, including details on specific housing units and their architectural features in these environments, but does not go into detail cost analysis for the construction and maintenance of these housing units.
This chapter has outlined in detail what this dissertation is about, further shedding light on the topic through a detailed background of study, clearly defining the problem it seeks to solve, outlining clear aims and objectives while also justifying the significance of the study.
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