Kano is among one in five cities in Africa that have been selected to participate in the Multi-City Challenge.


December 3, Kano, Nigeria — Kano is facing significant challenges – from building urban resilience in slums and informal settlements to reducing waste generation and improving waste management. There is a source of knowledge that can help provide ideas and answers: our residents and citizens.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Centre for Technology, Innovation, and Sustainable Development, UNDP Nigeria, and The Governance Lab (The GovLab) at New York University Tandon School of Engineering are proud to announce their collaboration with Kano State Government through the Office of the Special Adviser to Kano State Governor on SDGs to launch the 2020 Multi-City Challenge Africa

Africa’s urban population will triple to over 1.3 billion people by 2050 – so inclusive and sustainable cities are a priority. For example, Kano is leading prioritising  its efforts efforts around identifying sustainable soultions to urban waste management and urban resilience urban innovation.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje OFR recognized the Multi-City Challenge as a welcome development in complimenting government efforts to make Kano city a leader in sustainable development,  "I am delighted and pleased that Kano is among one in five cities in Africa that have been selected to participate in the Multi-City Challenge. It presents a historic opportunity for the people of Kano to leverage their innovative skills and make positive impact on a continental level" he said. "I therefore extend my goodwill message, to both the participants and organizers, and look forward to the innovative solutions that will be developed to help to solve some of our most complex issues around waste management and urban resilience". 

The first part of the Multi-City Challenge, which has just concluded, was an extensive training curriculum for public servants to focus on engaging citizens better. In October 2020, public servants in the five cities explored how to tackle problems that the city is facing, using  data and citizen input. 

How to participate

The second part of the challenge has now begun. The open innovation challenge is taking the form of a competition or open call to invite the public to share solutions, in order to build a pool of ‘collective intelligence’

From 4th November to 13 December, city residents can propose ideas to address one of two challenges in a city (maximum one idea per challenge per participant) to africa.multicitychallenge.org. The Kano challenge areas are: building urban resilience; and improving waste management

The second step (14th December - 23rd December) will be the evaluation of submitted ideas that residents consider most impactful, and practical. We will invite city residents to then vote for the ideas that they consider most impactful and practical in tackling the above issues.

Building urban resilience

Rapid urbanisation and limited investment to upgrade critical infrastructure of cities have contributed to the proliferation of slums and informal settlements. Due to the lack of infrastructure, these communities cannot absorb socio-economic and climatic shocks, further eroding existing and dilapidated infrastructure. Climate change increases the probability of a natural disaster impacting poor urban infrastructure and magnifying the damage and consequences.

·       Submit an idea for building urban resilience

Improving waste management

Increasing population, rural-urban migration, and shifting consumption patterns, are all combining to increase the amount of waste produced, in turn overwhelming the capacity of existing waste collection systems. Companies are also contributing to this issue by manufacturing single use, non-recyclable, and excessive packaging for most consumer and commercial goods. Governments lack efficient infrastructure to collect, sort, and manage waste in a timely manner, which is compounded by residents’ low awareness about the need to reduce, separate, recycle and reuse waste.

·    Submit an idea for improving waste management

What is a good idea?

We seek innovative, low-cost ideas to solve these challenges that can be implemented by the cities in the short term. Solutions can include products, services, software, methods, models, public programme designs, and more. Solutions do not need to be novel. In fact, something that is in use elsewhere is of great interest but must be supported by evidence that the proposed solution will work in one of the participating cities.


Who can participate?

Are you interested in working to improve the quality of life of Kano? This is a unique opportunity for you to be heard, and to build a better, more inclusive, and more resilient city. We are especially keen for the residents of Kano – and the citizens of Nigeria -  to submit your ideas and to vote on solutions proposed by others. 



Notes to the editor

UNDP is prioritising sustainable urbanisation across Africa, especially in the context of COVID-19. For more information and updates regarding Multi-City Challenge Africa, please visit http://africa.multicitychallenge.org

About the Multi-City Challenge

The GovLab created the City Challenges model in 2016 under the notion that public institutions need to change how they work, becoming more data-driven, agile, innovative, and capable of tapping expertise from new sources to respond more effectively to novel challenges.The first pilot of this initiative was carried out in the municipality of San Pedro Garza García, Mexico. The Multi-City Challenge scales the previous model running the programme in parallel in different cities that share similar urban challenges. This programme allows them to pool the expertise of their civil servants and residents to define problems and to find innovative solutions to solve them creating synergies and economies of scale between them. 

The Multi-City Challenge Africa builds on successful implementation of the City and Multi-City Challenge model in Latin America, the US, and Europe. African city leaders will have the opportunity to work with other cities, pooling the expertise from their communities in this first-of-its-kind public engagement effort across cities. This initiative will also be advised by a group of experts on citizen engagement in Africa that will constitute the advisory board for the project.

About UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation, and Sustainable Development 

The Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development is a joint initiative by the Government of Singapore and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which aims at identifying and co-creating technological solutions for sustainable development. The Centre curates partnerships, identifies solutions and connects partners and innovations with UNDP’s Global Policy Network and development partners.

Contact: nurfilzah.rohaidi@undp.org   

About The GovLab

The Governance Lab’s (The GovLab) mission is to improve people’s lives by changing the way we govern. Our goal at The GovLab is to strengthen the ability of institutions — including but not limited to governments — and people to work more openly, collaboratively, effectively, and legitimately to make better decisions and solve public problems. We believe that increased availability and use of data, new ways to leverage the capacity, intelligence, and expertise of people in the problem-solving process, combined with new advances in technology and science, can transform governance. We approach each challenge and opportunity in an interdisciplinary, collaborative way, irrespective of the problem, sector, geography, and level of government. For more information, visit https://www.thegovlab.org

Contact: info@thegovlab.org

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