African Research Network for Urbanization and Habitable Cities



This Annual Project Report reflects both the activities of the ARUA CoE Urbanization and Habitable Cities led by the University of Lagos, and the host Centre, Centre for Housing Sustainable Development. The following took place during the year 2020.



Research on Housing and COVID-19 Protection (AHRC Rapid Urgency COVID-19 Grant):

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers are carrying out a research on the adaptation strategies of residents of multi-tenanted housing in Lagos. Their methodology utilizes a dominant Arts and Humanities expertise together with built environment disciplines. The study involves historical investigation, utilization audio-visual arts, review of literary works, literature review, interviews and surveys.

Scoping studies on the State of Urban Infrastructure in Africa: Focus on Transit Oriented Development:

The Scoping Studies of the 2019-2020 research year of the CoE Urbanization and Habitable Cities was conceptualized from the previous research and stakeholder meetings in the year and released late December 2019. It was developed on two strands of research activities:

(i)            Eight thematic study strands with theoretical focus on transportation and key research areas in health, housing, governance, spatial data, land management amongst others driven by the research clusters.

(ii)           Seven city studies from Lagos, Abuja, Osogbo, Accra, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Freetown, Lusaka, and Banjul; examining the state of transportation in cities of the partner institutions, driven by the Network partner universities.

Data collection is based on transdisciplinary meetings and stakeholder meetings respectively.


Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Centre responded by taking up research activities to address some of the issues created by the pandemic. The following activities were undertaken;

COVID-19 and African Cities Webinar Series (July-September 2020):

The Centre hosted a series of webinars with Network partners and other scholars and practitioners across Africa on the COVID-19 pandemic and their cities. Discussions centered around themes such as data collection, slum management, governance, urban infrastructure, environmental strategies and municipal financing. Over 10 African cities were featured in the discussions; 27 universities and 400 people registered and participated. Speakers were drawn from academia, industry, communities and governance sectors.

COVID-19 and African Cities Blog Series (March-September 2020):

The Centre sent out invites for short articles on the COVID-19 pandemic in African Cities. 42 researchers reflected on COVID-19 and its effects on African cities from a variety of perspectives ranging from transportation to gender based violence to tourism and envisioning post COVID-19 cities. Please read here: http://chsunilag.com/blog. The Blog is also open to other submissions on a variety of issues relating to urbanization and Africa.

Research on Housing and COVID-19 Protection (April-December 2020):

The Centre carried out a multi-disciplinary research on the coping strategies of residents of multi-tenanted housing in Nigeria, where the rising cases of infection has raised much concern about community spread. Based on on-line survey of targeted respondents, the research was to proffer immediate evidence-backed coping strategies for households, and recommendations for policy-makers particularly in states like Lagos, where housing conditions make people particularly vulnerable. Link to summary: http://chsunilag.com/News-and-events/chsd-statement-on-housing-and-covid-19.

Results from the preliminary study highlight some issues that require further interrogation. Therefore, the Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development is currently seeking for funding from a range of platforms to expand on this study. Link to the survey, which is still active: https://forms.gle/SooWeCywpCDnYwhg7

Advocacy (April 2020):

In collaboration with Civil Society’s Organizations, the Centre has issued a press release titled ‘CSOs statement on COVID-19 Response by the Lagos State Government’, wherein strong recommendations have been made for adequate COVID-19 testing and care facilities for low-income communities and realistic and direct palliatives for vulnerable peoples to protect them against infection and to relieve the economic stress associated with prolonged shut-downs. https://www.environewsnigeria.com/lagos-asked-to-extend-covid-19-advocacy-to-low-income-communities/


AHRC Urgency Grant on Housing and COVID-19 Protection(July 2020-January 2021):

The Centre is carrying out a multi-disciplinary research on the Adaptation strategies of residents of multi-tenanted housing in Lagos, with funding from AHRC – Arts & Humanities Research council of the UK Research and Innovation. This is on-going.

ARUA – UKRI GCRF Partnership Programme for Capacity Building (September 2019-August 2022):

The Scoping Studies of the 2019-2020 research year of the CoE Urbanization and Habitable Cities was on the State of Urban Infrastructure, with focus on Transit Oriented Development. This grant has fostered increased networking and capacity to conduct and manage research, and increased collaborations across African to produce publication. The scoping study for second year of the grant, 2020-2021 will focus Informality and Inequality.

Gender differentials and Public Transportation in Lagos Nigeria (January – June 2021):

Catalyst Non-Residential  Fellowship – individual. Funded by University of Edinburgh – Centre for African Studies.

Sentiment and opinion analysis of public space physical activity in Lagos during lockdown (2020-2021):

A data-driven approach to developing context-aware public health messaging to reduce disease vulnerability and improve COVID-19 control, in collaboration with University of Cambridge.  Funded by the Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund COVID-19 Emergency Awards.

Migration, Urbanization and Conflict in Africa: Towards Peaceful Urban Futures. (2020 - 2023):

In collaboration with Addis Ababa University, University of Sheffield and Makerere University.  Funded by UKRI under the GCRF/ African Research Universities Alliance Research Excellence programme.

Research on public spaces and urban infrastructure:

This study is funded by the British Academy Urban Infrastructures of Well-Being Programme. It entails Informal appropriation of public spaces and urban infrastructure for Leisure Physical Activity in Lagos and Yaoundé, led by the University of Cambridge. This is on-going.


Also funded by the British Academy Urban Infrastructures of Well-Being Programme. It focuses on frictional Infrastructure, road ecologies and valorization of end-of-life tyres (ELTs) towards more sustainable urban economies in West African mega-cities”, led by the University of Kent. This is on-going.

 The educational opportunity for building a resilient future. (December 2019 – March 2021):

In collaboration with (University of Sydney, Waikato, Queensland University of Technology, Heriot Watt). Funded by Royal Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Development Seed funding programme.



Transdisciplinary Research: Rethinking Research in COVID-19 times (August 2020):

Our flagship capacity building workshop for 2020 was the Transdisciplinary Research Capacity Workshop. It was conceived as a selection-based 3-day activity focusing on the Transdisciplinary Research Techniques. The objective of the workshop was to improve the capacity of all cadres of researchers to initiate, maintain and strengthen collaborations with stakeholders from practice, communities, public sector, academic groups amongst others. Facilitators included: Professor Diana Mitlin (University of Manchester); Prof Kate Meagher (Associate Professor) (London School of Economics), Prof Ulli Vilsmaer of the Leuphana University, Professor Isobel Anderson (University of Stirling). Link to the report: http://chsunilag.com/Research-and-reports/transdisciplinary-research-workshop-27-29-august-2020-detailed-report

Writing Workshop Series: Critical Writing workshop for Early Career Researchers, & Urban Studies Researchers in Nigerian Universities (January–December 2021):

In collaboration with University of Sheffield, and the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Lagos, a 3-day writing workshop was carried out for early career researchers. The workshop was funded by British Academy, and it was done to help early career researchers develop and sharpen their research writing skills.

A virtual version of the workshop was also carried out for urban studies researchers in Nigerian Universities.


Home Ownership and Economic Prosperity (February 2020):

A Masterclass on "Home Ownership and Economic Prosperity" was held at the Social Media Week Lagos 2020 in February 2020. The Centre Director, Professor Timothy Nubi anchored this session. He gave insight into the pathways of home ownership in Nigeria, and the potentials in the real estate sector

Practitioners’ Capacity Building Workshop:

The Centre in collaboration with the National body of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), one of its industry partners held a nationwide capacity building workshop. The theme of the training was: ‘Enhancing the Capacity of Real Estate Developers for Productivity’. The workshop took place in November in Abuja, Lagos, Imo States respectively. 

 Using ICT to enhance the task of literature review: Mendeley as a literature management tool (September 2020):

In September, 2020 a 2-day Masterclass on the use of Mendeley held virtually. The masterclass was facilitated by Dr. Julius Faremi, the Cluster Manager of the Sustainable Construction and Construction Skill Development Cluster of the Centre. He explained how the Mendeley application is set up, how it can be used to collate a digital library, and how it can be used for citation and referencing.



Housing and the SDGs in Africa:

This book of chapters interrogates the linkages and connections between housing and the Sustainable Development Goals in African cities, in nine countries across Africa. The book of chapter has sixteen chapters and was published under the Advancement in 21st Century Human Settlements Series of Springer Nature. Link book: https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789813344235#aboutBook

A Toolkit for Conducting Neighbourhood Level Research:

This Toolkit was developed from presentations and activities of the five-day workshop titled “Strengthening Neighbourhood Level Research Capacities for Sustainable Cities in Fast-Growing Nigerian Cities” that held in Lagos from 7th to 11th November 2019. The workshop was organized by the University of Lagos Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development, and funded by the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC) Capacity Development Acceleration Fund. SHLC is funded by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund via ESRC-and UKRI.

Land and Development in Lagos:

This is a publication that came out of earlier engagements with practitioners and academics in Nigeria, and reflects the importance of land to city management and sustainability in urban Africa. The book comprises the introduction and 24 substantive chapters organized into four sections. Section 1 focuses on Land Tenure System and Land Use; section 2 dwells on Land Management Policy and Advocacy; section 3 examines Land application issues and Land Management; while section 4 considers Land, Gender and Power Relations.


African Journal of Housing and Sustainable Development:

The Centre also launched the first volume of its journal called African Journal of Housing and Sustainable Development in 2020.


Other publications:

In addition to these flagship publications, researchers from the Centre contributed to a total of fifteen journal articles, ten book chapters and also 4 short articles.



The First Annual Conference of the African Research Network on Urbanization and Habitable Cities (October 2020):

The conference was meant to develop on presentations of the Scoping Studies Research carried out over the grant year. It was hosted by the University of Cape Town. Key notes were presented by Advisory Board Members: Professor David Toll from Durham University, and Professor Vanessa Watson from the University of Cape Town. The Acting Vice Chancellor of UCT, Prof Sue Harrison also gave a warm welcome speech. Link to communiqué: http://chsunilag.com/Research-and-reports/communique-of-the-first-network-conference-27-29-october-2020



Ajegunle-Ikorodu Community Resilience Action Plan:

This research was done in collaboration with Ajegunle and Ikorodu communities, and it was supported by the Heinrich Boll Foundation. It is an action research project in response to COVID-19 in vulnerable communities. It was carried out to determine through a citizen science approach, a Resilience Action Plan for an informal community in Lagos, Nigeria. The research is based on the UN-Habitat’s CityRAP Tool. The process is one that is replicable for similar communities in Africa. The report can be found at http://chsunilag.com/Research-and-reports/ajegunle-ikorodu-community-resilience-action-plan.

Press Releases:

In collaboration with Civil Society’s Organizations, the Centre issued press releases to make strong recommendations for adequate COVID-19 testing and care facilities for low-income communities and realistic and direct palliatives for vulnerable peoples to protect them against infection and to relieve the economic stress associated with prolonged shut-downs. https://www.environewsnigeria.com/lagos-asked-to-extend-covid-19-advocacy-to-low-income-communities/

Urban October 2020:

Focusing Housing as an Opportunity for Urban Regeneration in Africa. This was a release from the ARUA-CoE on behalf of the network on World Habitat Day. Link to report: http://chsunilag.com/Research-and-reports/focusing-housing-as-an-opportunity-for-urban-regeneration-in-africa

Enhancing the Value of Sustainable Urbanization in Nigerian Cities and Communities:

This held as a webinar on World Cities Day in October 2020 in Collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre Lagos, Nigeria, UN Habitat Nairobi, Kenya and Institute of Nigeria-China Development Studies, University of Lagos.

Statement on World Habitat Day 2020:

Housing for All: A Better Urban Future. This is a condensation of the position of the CoE Partners and Research Clusters in commemoration of the World Habitat Day and is available at http://chsunilag.com/News-and-events/statement-on-world-habitat-day-2020-housing-for-all-a-better-urban-future

World Urban Forum 2020:

The Centre participated in the research carried out at the Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10), which was hosted in Abu Dhabi between the 8-13th of February, 2020.

Neighbourhood Level Research Post-Workshop Community Engagement Meeting (January 2020):

This took place on the 14th of January, 2020 at the Centre. This was a follow-up meeting to engage with three low income communities using neighbourhood level research strategies. Representatives of Ebute-Ilaje Bariga and Mosafejo Bariga, along with early career researchers were in attendance.



Lagos State Resilience Strategy (February 2020):

The Centre was the technical partner to the Lagos State government on the Lagos resilience strategy. The Centre’s Researchers were engaged by the 100Resilient Cities of the Rockefeller Foundation to develop a resilience Strategy for Lagos State. The Lagos Resilience Strategy was launched on the 4th of February 2020, at Alausa, Ikeja.


Political Economy of African Cities and the Realization of the SDGs (September 2020):

Astrid R.N. Haas, an urban economist with wide experience spanning government and non-governmental organizations across multiple developing countries was the facilitator at the Public Lecture titled “Political Economy of African Cities and the realization of the SDGs”. This was held virtually and streamed live on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chsd.unilag/

Beyond the Market State: harnessing the potential of the Commons (March 2020):

The Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development successfully hosted Silke Helfrich to deliver a public lecture and multi-disciplinary workshop on "Beyond the Market State: harnessing the potential of the Commons" in March 3, 2020 at Biodun Sobanjo Centre of Excellence, University Lagos.

Determinants of Location Choices by Slum Dwellers in Lagos Megacity (February 2020):

The Centre’s Pro-poor governance and urban management cluster held a seminar on the Determinants of Location Choices by Slum Dwellers in Lagos Megacity, in February, 2020 at the University of Lagos. The Speaker, Dr. Olabisi Badmus, is a Town Planner and a Postdoctoral Research fellow at Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany.


Assessment of Contemporary Global Environmental Health Challenges through The Geo Spatial Lens: Opportunities Challenges, and Limitations (January 2020): 

The Centre’s Spatial Data Infrastructure and Urban Health and Liveability clusters successfully hosted a guest speaker Dr. Abiodun Oluyomi from Baylor college of Medicine Houston Texas in January, 2020. He delivered a lecture on “Assessment of Contemporary Global Challenges through the geo spatial lens: opportunities, challenges and limitations”.



Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the Centre was able to achieve some major milestones and contribute to urban knowledge production.

We are in the last stages of developing a new website that will capture the activities of the CoE, the Network, the Research Clusters and the Host Centre. We are looking to go live by the first working week of January 2021.

We look forward to a more productive 2021.


Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development,

University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos.


Email: centreforhousing@unilag.edu.ng

Old Website: http://chsunilag.com/ New Website: chsd.unilag.edu.ng


Tel number: +234 807 449 6369, 0803 773 7355

Facebook: Chsd Unilag, Twitter: chsd_unilag, Instagram: chsd_unilag


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