The Heinrich Böll Foundation in Nigeria
The Abuja office of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation works with civil society and government partners, policy shapers and gender activists, to name only a few of the groups and persons with whom the foundation engages to inspire public debate on the development options before Nigeria. The foundation supports initiatives that are environmentally and politically green in the search for low-carbon, gender sensitive and equitable growth models. To quote its patron, the German civil rights activist and author Heinrich Böll, “Meddling is the only way to stay relevant”: the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Nigeria Office aims to provide platforms for innovative, fresh and inspiring dialogues that can make a difference, at a time where climate change, rising inequality and insecurity challenge pre-conceived notions of what development means to people.
Activities/Projects We Are Supporting in 2019
Off-Grid Renewables – There is a growing interest in off-grid renewables as the government, and international organisations are increasingly testing and investing in renewable energy projects, mainly driven by solar-powered solutions. Not much attention has been given, meanwhile, to small stand-alone solutions for SMEs (such as barber shops, hair salons, tailoring outfits, convenience stores), which would allow their businesses to thrive independently from the public power supply. We are supporting research and advocacy aimed at upscaling such standalone solutions for SMEs, and at the same time developing a policy framework for the environmentally-sound recycling of Lead Acid Batteries used for renewable energy supply.
Small Scale Growth –Local solution labs in selected communities supported by our office have enabled these communities to identify green development options specific to their neighbourhood. Such solution labs have been facilitated among community residents in Mabushi (Abuja), farming communities in Kaduna and SME clusters in Anambra State. Solution lab participants developed options around sustainable waste management, improved farming and affordable access to renewable energy. This year we are going a step further in backing the drive towards implementation of these identified options by engaging with the relevant government agencies, the private sector, and other social groups.
Green Development Nigeria - Nigeria is a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement which it ratified on 16th May 2017. The Nigerian green bonds floated in 2018 by the Federal Ministry of Environment seem laudable in fulfilling its carbon reduction commitments. However, there are still incoherencies with significant government development policies and its documented low carbon commitment. There is also a limited understanding among civil society and government agencies on the path to take towards low carbon development in vital economic sectors which currently have a high carbon footprint. We are supporting efforts towards building the capacity of civil society enabling them to monitor green projects and to ensure transparency and equity. We aim at providing expertise for the development of key performance indicators (KPIs) for specific government agencies in critical economic sectors allowing them to effectively align their policies and track progress on carbon emission reductions.
Democracy at Work
Rethinking Cities –Over the years, urban planning experts and stakeholders from the informal sector in Lagos city cooperated in developing sustainable and inclusive proposals to increase affordable housing, low carbon mobility and effective waste management as part of our inclusive Megacity Lagos program. We support our partners in advocating for the implementation of these developmental options. Our partner, 'Rethinking Cities', is focusing on driving this advocacy through the creative use of tech, arts and on-site visits to potentially bridge the gap between the political elites and the informal sector.
Urban Planning Processes – The research comparing the policy and administrative framework shaping urban planning processes in Lagos with the reality of implementation was updated in 2018. Considering that a new government will come into office in 2019, we are now supporting efforts that seek to engage relevant policy and decision makers in Lagos State on concepts of participatory and transparent city planning as highlighted in the publication. A special focus lies on a participatory and professional review process of the Lagos Development Plan for the coming decades.
Fake News Watchdogs – The proliferation of fake news continues to be a big problem in the social media space, especially with the 2019 Nigerian general elections. Journalist experts expressed concern over the limitations of fact-checking capacity in the Nigerian journalism space; we partnered with Dubawa, a fact-checking website and a subsidiary of the Premium Times online Newspaper, to set up a fact-checking team to search for and debunk fake news trending on social media. We are also cooperating with Dubawa to nurture a fact-checking culture in the journalism space by working and training news media outlets in setting up a fact-checking desk.