UNILAG, three other varsities win £1.9m research grant

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The University of Lagos (UNILAG), alongside two other universities in Africa and one in United Kingdom, have been awarded a research grant worth 1.9 million pounds by the United Kingdom Research Institute (UKRI).

The grant, which is for a three-year research project (2021-2023) and funded by the UKRI, under the UKRI-GCRF ARUA Research Excellence Programme, is also for Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

Others are Makerere University, Uganda and University of Sheffield, UK, as collaborating institutions.

The universities are expected to support in building research capacities at some other young participating African universities such as Hawassa in Ethiopia, Gulu in Uganda, as well as the University of Jos.

The Vice Chancellor of UNILAG, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, disclosed this in his address at a virtual/physical National Inception Workshop of the Migration, Urbanisation and Conflict in Africa (MUCA) Research Project on Thursday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the workshop, with the theme: Migration, Urbanisation and Conflict in Africa; Toward Peaceful Urban Futures (MUCA), was hosted by UNILAG’s Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development.

Ogundipe who was represented by the institution’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and Academics, Professor Oluwole Familoni, said that the ARUA Centre of Excellence for Urbanisation and Habitable Cities had a mandate to scale up applied urban research and practice in Africa.

He said that it was also to work toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to him, the research grant is one of six awarded under the UKRI-GCRF African Universities Research Alliance (ARUA) Research Excellence programme.

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He said that it was also one of the several research projects targeted at UNILAG, in fostering stronger research and development partnerships for the actualisation of the SDGs.

The don noted that the research project would focus on unraveling the complexities surrounding migration and urbanisation in Africa, the attendant conflicts and finally chart the pathway to peaceful urban futures.

”This workshop, in kicking off the research, seeks to co-create the sustainable pathway to peace in our cities with stakeholders such as ourselves, private practitioners, policy makers, international development agencies and others.

”The future of African cities cannot be determined outside science policy engagement.

“Effective development strategies cannot be developed without the contributions of knowledge institutions.

”Providing the evidence base for targeted policies and actions in peace keeping, peace making and peace building in Nigerian cities is a game changer.

”The University of Lagos and all other partner universities in this MUCA project bring that expertise as subject specialists and bridge builders for a more sustainable future.

”Let me reiterate here that this project fits neatly within the internationalisation mandate of this university.

”Our faculty members are once again showing our strength and expertise in research and our capacity to collaborate effectively with other universities internationally, to jointly undertake ground-breaking multidisciplinary research aimed at improving our societies,” he stated.

The keynote speaker, Professor Isaac Albert, pioneer Dean, Faculty of Multidisciplinary Studies, University of Ibadan, said there was an urgent need for universities across the continent to collaborate and step up efforts, in finding lasting solutions to all societal challenges.

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According to him, city managers are already overwhelmed by these challenges that come with migration and conflicts especially.

”City managers are trained to manage problems but researchers have a better understanding on how to tackle most of these problems.

”When city managers, scholars, policy makers and industry collaborate, they end up establishing structures that would produce more sustainable management of the urban challenges,” he stated.

The professor of African History, Peace and Conflict Studies added that universities must remain production relevant as well as link up with industries in their quest to research and proffer solutions.

Professor Timothy Nubi, Director, Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development in UNILAG, expressed joy over the research grant, noting that the development was a challenge to do more.

He noted that the centre would continue to engage in active collaboration, research and practice with the Federal and State Government agencies, NGOs and other critical stakeholders.

”We are indeed very happy to be part of this.

“The grant is essentially to look into issues of migration, urbanisation and conflict in Africa.

”It is huge, most of our institutions in Africa have not up till now, recognised the importance of research and the connection into development.

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“When we look around, you will discover that one of the challenges facing us today is that of urban migration.

”This is especially, for economic reason, as well as migration as a result of conflict (displacement) and this is in the highest volume.

”The joy in the grant is that we are working not only as a university, but in collaboration with practitioners, communities, state government and we believe that if we co-produce solution, we are not going to market it to them, because it is a joint effort,” he said.

Professor Taibat Lawanson, co-director of the centre, said the project would cover Nigerian cities such as Lagos, Lokoja and Jos.

According to Lawanson who is also a co-investigator and Project Lead, Nigeria, it also covers some cities in Ethiopia and Uganda, essentially to look at drivers of conflicts, particularly those caused by migration, driven by mega urbanisation, as in the case of Lagos.

”We shall also look at the ones driven by industrialisation, as in the case of Hawassa in Ethiopia, and Lokoja, Obajana, in Nigeria, and that driven by perennial conflict as it is in the case of Jos, also in Nigeria,” he said.

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