Urban Spaces Greening Education and Advocacy in Enugu
By Chukwumerije Okereke
IVLP Impact Award Project
The project’s goal is to raise awareness about the problems of air pollution, deforestation, and climate change in the city of Enugu, (which is located in the South-eastern part of Nigeria) as well as the role that urban greening can play in addressing these challenges. The project is also intended to empower young and upcoming climate leaders to become more skilled and effective campaigners for climate action.
The project will train young climate leaders on the topic of urban air pollution and the contribution of urban space greening in addressing the challenges of climate change and air pollution in cities. Part of the training will include taking air quality measurements with the young leaders to paint a real-life picture of the air quality situation in the city. The training will be accompanied by tree planting activities in the city of Enugu and a visit to three secondary schools in Enugu by the young leaders to raise awareness on climate change and air pollution as well as the role of tree planting in urban spaces in addressing the challenges. Motivation I hope to raise awareness about the problems of air pollution, deforestation, and climate change in the city of Enugu, and also empower young climate advocates who will continue to expand the reach of the project through the knowledge and skill acquired during the project.
The location of the project is the Enugu metropolis in Enugu State of Nigeria. Enugu City is the capital of Enugu State in the Southeast of Nigeria. The city of Enugu has a population of about 820,000 according to the 2022 Nigerian census. The name, Enugu, is derived from the two Igbo words Énú Ụ́gwụ́, meaning “hilltop”, denoting the city’s hilly geography. Enugu is the unofficial capital of the Southeast region of Nigeria and is loved by many because of its reputation for beauty and serenity. These aspects are however increasingly being lost to unplanned urban development, an increase in population, and an abundance of aged polluting vehicles on the road.
The project will involve the selection of 15 young climate leaders from Enugu state in a competitive process. The selected leaders will be trained for two days on the science of climate change and air pollution (Day 1); and effective climate advocacy and communication (Day 2). The training will include random air quality measurements which will be taken using hired equipment from the Faculty of Environmental Sciences in the Enugu State campus of the University of Nigeria. The measurements, combined with data gathered from existing literature, will be used to draw attention to the poor air quality condition in the state capital. The training will also educate and empower the selected activists, NGOs, and youth leaders who are already working in the areas of climate change and environmental protection in Enugu State to become more effective communicators and advocates. Having been trained, or rather as part of the training, the young leaders will work in groups to plant both economic and ornamental trees in selected places around the city of Enugu – the choices of which will be determined in discussion with the city officials. Furthermore, the young leaders will also visit selected schools to plant trees and educate students and their teachers on the role of urban green spaces in combating climate change, improving air pollution, and improving several other aspects of livelihoods. Accordingly, the training is accompanied by two types of tree-planting activities. The first tree planting activity will be taken by the trainee advocates (three groups of five) in selected locations in the city of Enugu. Again, the designations will be selected in consultation with the urban city administration. The second tree planting will be undertaken by the trained advocates in three schools in Enugu – again with the 15 trained advocates split into three groups of five. Each group will undertake a climate awareness/ education program in one school in the metropolis and plant trees in the selected schools as part of the awareness program. The project will conclude with a visit to the city administration to highlight the achievements of the project and encourage them (the city) to prioritize urban greening and the fight against climate change.
This project idea was born in Salt Lake City, Utah where I interacted with several organizations that are working hard to call attention the to challenge of air pollution in the state and to do something about it. Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment talked about their dedication to protecting the health and well-being of the residents of Utah by promoting science-based health education and interventions. Through this interaction and the interaction with Envision Utah, Heal Utah, and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, I gain a much stronger realization of the dangers of air pollution and the need to engage citizens in advocacy for air pollution. I also realized that focusing on air pollution could be in some cases a better way or “hook” to get into climate change which can seem more abstract and contentious to some. Meetings in Portland Oregon strengthened my conviction on the beauty and utility of urban parks as well as climate education among high school students. I saw in Miami the role of local groups in taking simple and still effective action in the cleaning up of Miami Beach.
a registered NGO in Nigeria of which I am the Chairman Board of Trustees. The Society for Planet and Prosperity SPP is a dynamic not-forprofit NGO that was created to build national and regional capacity that will support Nigeria as well as other African countries to develop locally appropriate solutions to climate change. https://sppnigeria.org
of which I am the Director. The Centre for Climate Change and Development at AFEFUNAI is intended to become a world-class think tank and the leading centre of innovative learning, research, and policy guidance in the areas of environmental sustainability, climate change, and green development in Nigeria and Africa more broadly. The Centre operates on the mandate to cultivate local knowledge, build capacities, and raise the quality of research done by Nigerian think-thanks to international standards. The Center works to bring Nigerian academics, governments, NGOs, and private sector entities together in partnerships to address the nation’s key environmental and developmental challenges. https://cccd.funai.edu.ng/about-us/
is a for-profit business and a youth-led social enterprise focusing on waste Management and recycling, Tree Planting initiatives, Clean up Advocacy & Environmental sustainability amongst communities in Enugu State, Nigeria, thereby taking Climate Action. They are located at Premiere Layout, Goshen Estate Independence Layout Phase 2, Enugu State. They have no website. The training will be delivered by the PI, Chukwumerije Okereke who will also be fully responsible for the project coordination. The partner organization will support recruiting the young leaders, they will support me with making logistical arrangements for the training, increasing publicity for the project, liaising with the schools that will be visited, and liaising with the city administration to identify the location within the city where the tree planting will take place. They can also offer support on the day of the training as Assistants