Helping the poorest in the world's biggest cities

A new programme to improve conditions in slum areas in some of the world’s biggest cities by giving residents better access to housing, transportation, energy, water and sanitation was announced today by Gareth Thomas.

The UK International Development Minister confirmed in March 2010 that the programme will focus on Lagos, Nigeria’s “megacity” - a city with a population above 10mn.
The UK government’s Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) will help to provide the first ever metropolitan rail lines in Lagos and improve commuter bus services which take people from the slums to the city centre - helping to significantly bolster transport facilities in the city. Speaking at the launch of a new government paper on cities, Mr Thomas highlighted that Africa's growing urban centres offer huge, largely untapped opportunities for British business such as in the rapidly-expanding oil, gas and telecommunications industries and in Nigeria’s case, “Nollywood”.
The government of Nigeria predicts that over the next ten years Lagos could become the third largest city on the planet. However, unless action is taken now to make sure that growth in these cities is properly planned, millions of people will live in poorly constructed housing with little or no access to water or sanitation and scant employment prospects thanks to a lack of electricity and poor transportation links. Launching the programme, Gareth Thomas said, "By 2030, 70 per cent of people in Africa will live in slums. It's clear that we need to take urgent action so that the poorest people are not left behind as megacities like Lagos continue to grow.
"Cities offer massive opportunities for business. But with these opportunities come huge challenges – poor transportation, massive deprivation, overcrowding and a lack of basic facilities that we take for granted like running water and toilets.
"By helping to upgrade the buses and railways, our new funding will mean that Lagos's transport system is better able to meet the needs of its residents in the years to come, helping the city to reach its potential as an economic powerhouse and a good place to do business."

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