© Lookman Oshodi

Lookman Oshodi, from Lagos, Nigeria, is the project director of "Arctic Infrastructure", a private organization with a focus on infrastructure, urban development, and the environment. Along with three international experts, Mr. Oshodi was recently selected as member of the the jury responsible for selecting the six Metropolis pilot projects. The use-team spoke to him about water and sanitation projects and his perspective on implementing the SDGs. 


What and where have been your most enriching and/or challenging experiences with water and sanitation projects?

The most enriching experience is the ability of my team at Arctic Infrastructure to provide pathways for large metropolitan areas on sustainable water delivery. The ability to provide institutional architecture, legal and financial framework, and scope of investments required to deliver water and sanitation programs and projects to residents of large cities is quite exciting and fulfilling. Also, our tenacity in bringing water to households and public facilities through construction and renewal of water infrastructure, in conjunction with our partners, is motivating. However, challenges do exist in getting some public utility organizations to be responsive and innovative in their approaches to meeting the needs of their respective cities. Sometimes, it is daunting to get public organizations to explore other innovative financing mechanisms over the traditional reliance on routine budgetary provisions.


Considering your background in this field, how close do you believe we are to the implementation of SDG6, which is to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all?

I think with on-going concerted efforts of multiple stakeholders in the water and sanitation sector, we should be able to record considerable milestones in the implementation of SDG6. In Nigeria, for example, foreign development partners have been active, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, to strengthen the sector. USAID has been taking the lead in establishing Community of Practice that brings all sector stakeholders together via an online interactive platform. Water Aid recently reengineered its Nigerian capacity and it is focusing on Northern Nigeria to drive urban and rural water and sanitation projects. For some time, Save the Children International has embarked on provisions of water and sanitation infrastructure in the city of Lagos and some states in the Northern part of Nigeria.  World Bank, French Development Agency, Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank and European Union are also active in different parts of Nigeria collaborating with states in embarking on institutional and policy reform, customers’ enumeration, metering system, city’s reticulation for water and sanitation, and reservoir refurbishment among other interventions.

The above efforts are in addition to the activities of the Federal Government and different State Governments in water and sanitation policies, projects and programs. If the current momentum is sustained, Nigeria should record significant achievements at the expiration of SDG6.


What are the main challenges in meeting the indicators and measures of this goal?

Despite the elaborate eight targets and eleven indicators, the main challenges to the accomplishment of the measures and indicators of SDG6 are a knowledge gap in the sector; inadequacy of institutional and governance frameworks to respond to the challenges of water and sanitation; crowding out of local administrations in favour of federal and state authorities to drive the water and sanitation system; inadequacy of engagement and involvement of local communities in water and sanitation management; vague and unrealistic implementation strategies; insufficient inter-boundary cooperation and coordination on water resources management; ageing and non-existence water and sanitation infrastructure; climate change induced water stress; and lack of ability to explore innovative finance mechanism to turn around the sector.    


What is the role of subnational authorities, such as city governments, metropolitan authorities and regional administrations in making cities and settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable?

Apart from providing the relevant regulatory and administrative tools to manage cities, the subnational authorities, such as city governments, metropolitan authorities and regional administrations need to be beacons of innovation and creativity. Metropolitan authorities need to set the platform for participatory approach to cities’ development and management by attracting various stakeholders such as the private sector, development partners, civil society and community groups into different spheres of city development and service delivery. They must be able to innovate on measures to bring new talents and capital into their cities. 

With focus on making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, sustainable and compassionate, metropolitan authorities and regional administrations must demonstrate openness to receiving new ideas and must be flexible to the global development dynamics and emerging technologies. While focusing on strategic and policy direction, they must create sufficient capacity to drive the operational wheel of the cities. Social and economic empowerment of residents must not take a back seat in the priorities of service delivery. Most importantly, processes of ensuring transparency and accountability in the city administration should be a primary focus for the metropolitan authorities and regional administrations, especially for the cities of developing countries.


What is your perspective on the roles of various stakeholders from different sectors (e.g. private companies, citizens, multilateral institutions, grassroots organizations) in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals? Are they well-coordinated and how can their coordination be enhanced?

SDG 17 is very articulate in building partnerships to ensuring achievement of all goals. Target 17.17 is even specific on encouraging and promoting effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships. These provisions underscore the importance of building collaboration, partnership and integral working models among all the stakeholders in attaining sustainable and resillience settlements. A good case study is the on-going Munich rail expansion project in Germany which brought multiple stakeholders into a common funding partnership including the city of Munich government, federal government, the rail operators, European Union and civil society groups that engage actively with residents and other stakeholders on the project.

In cities of developing countries, coordination of multiple stakeholders towards accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals is yet to be fully integrated into t development policies and frameworks. Kigali in Rwanda has been successful in policy enhancement for stakeholders coordination and engagement. The same cannot be said of many cities in Sub Saharan Africa where government still adopts a top to bottom approach governance system and other stakeholders such as the private sector, residents, community groups and civil society are often considered tangential in development discourse.

The coordination is relatively loose in Sub Saharan Africa, but can be enhanced through cohesive policies and legal frameworks that recognises stakeholders’ coordination and involvement as fundamental in the development value chain. Regular dialogue, increasing communication synergy and specific roles’ sharing among the stakeholders in urban management is also imperative. 


How do you think the exchange of local practices across the world can contribute to a more sustainable planet by 2030? Is use a useful tool for knowledge exchange and would you recommend it to other urban practitioners?

The exchange of local practices across the world will help tremendously in making a more sustainable planet by 2030 and beyond. Watching a disaster unfolding in any region of the world is a key lesson for another in building their resilience strategy towards mitigating and adapting to similar disaster. Hurricanes in the Americas is a great lesson for cities in South East Asia to strengthen their resilience strategies.

Apart from live transmission of experiences across the world, fellowships, workshops, labs and online communities of practice have been helpful in bringing local practices to the table from diverse people across the world. These methods help improve experience sharing, knowledge exchange and learning among different actors from different parts of the planet.

use has become a veritable online knowledge community pulling together professionals from diverse development backgrounds to share practical hands on experience of programs and projects. It is successfully mobilizing global innovative projects and programs that motivate cities on a single platform and bringing experts from different parts of the world towards a common vision of sustaining and building the resilience of metropolises.

I strongly recommend that other urban practitioners should join the platform to gain access to cutting-edge development practices.


Is there any particular use case study or expert from the PTP community that you find inspiring or relevant for your work?

All case studies listed on use hold valuable lessons for our work. They are compelling to gain inspiration on many perspectives. However, there are a number of projects we are studying closely to gain further insights.They include

Sofia City Development Strategy – Sofia I and II, Bulgaria which aims at enhancing the development of democratic and self-reliant municipal management systems in Sofia in a manner that generates sustainable, long-term benefits for residents. The knowledge of the Sofia approach will support strengthening the municipal structural system in many parts of Africa.

Social Intervention Project for the Cumbica Urbanisation Programme, Guarulhos, Brazil which was developed for an impoverished area in the outskirts of Guarulhos, São Paulo. The programme’s main goals are to contribute to the social inclusion of the local population through the access to social housing and public services. The experience of Cumbica Urbanisation Programme will be relevant in addressing urbanization challenges in African cities where a considerable portion of the cities are in slums and informal settlements with Monrovia, Liberia and Douala, Cameroun as a few examples.

Siata, Early Warning System of the Aburra Valley in Colombia, a science and technology project framed in the context of risks associated with natural hazards, sustainability, and the development of smart cities. SIATA monitors environmental conditions, identifies threats and emergencies and informs the decision-making process of response agencies in situations of extreme weather events. The system provides access to information in real time to determine the likelihood of events such as heavy rains, floods, landslides, avalanches, air quality analysis, electrical discharge and areas where fires may occur. SIATA system is encouraging and the lessons will be effective in guiding many coastal cities facing the challenges of heavy rain and flooding, such as Lagos in Nigeria.


The interview was conducted by the use-team, 22nd May, 2018