Rapid spatial growth of cities and its planning implications for developing countries: a case study of Abuja, Nigeria.


Gladys Ogochukwu Chukwurah(1), Chioma onwuneme John-nsa(2), Francis Okeke(3*), Eze Charles Chukwudi(4), Isimah Matthew Ogorchukwu(5)

(1) Department of urban and regional planning, University of Nigeria
(2) Department of urban and regional planning, University of Nigeria
(3) Department of Architecture, University of Nigeria
(4) Institute of Development Studies, University of Nigeria
(5) Department of Geography, University of Nigeria
(*) Corresponding Author


Accelerated spatial growth of urban areas is a key driver to land use/land cover change with its concomitant effect on environmental sustainability. The dearth of data on the rate of urban expansion, especially in many developing countries, including Nigeria has continued to hinder effective land use planning and sustainable development. The study aims to identify and analyze the settlement patterns and trends in urban growth at ten years intervals and their planning implications in Abuja, Nigeria. It relied on data generated via remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems to create the map and examine the land cover change in the study area. Classification of land cover using LANDSAT data and land cover transitions for 29 years (1990 to 2019) were mapped and the net land cover change was computed. The results showed the settlement pattern and an increase in the urban built-up area ranging from 1.8% in 1990 to 19.3% in 2019. The dispersion pattern revealed a large concentration of the built-up spaces to be in the eastern region and that the expansion continued from east to south and south-west. The bare land cover types were found to have increased while vegetation land cover decreased rapidly by 30.4% from 1990-2019. The study recommends the need for city planners to decentralize urban planning and development control with adequate provision of affordable urban facilities at the peripheries of cities in Nigeria. Furthermore, massive integration of green infrastructure in built-up areas is required to mitigate the effects of vegetation loss in cities.


Environmental sustainability; land cover; planning implications; settlement patterns; urban growth

Full Text:



Abubakar, I.R. (2014) Abuja city profile. Cities, 41, pp81-91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2014.05.008

Adeponle, J. (2013) “The Integrated City as a Tool for Sustainable Development”. Journal of Educational and Social Research. 3(5) http://dx.doi.org/10.5901/jesr.2013.v3n5p145

AGIS (Abuja Geographic Information Systems), (2015) FCT Regional Plan: Proposed Landuse; personal communication, AGIS: Abuja, Nigeria, Personal Communication, 2015.

Aliyu M.D. and Bashiru, S. (2015) “Nigeria: Multiple forms Mobility Africa's Demographic Giant”. Available online @ http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/nigeria-multiple-forms-mobility-africas-demographic-giant. Accessed 3rd July 2020

Aljohani, N. M., Jaafar, M and Choy, L. M (2021). Urban planning in Al-madinah Al-munawarh using Newgreen space modelling through GIS application. Indonesain journal of Geography, 53 (3), 340-347. Doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.22146/ijg.64991

Anierobi, C.M., Okeke, F.O., Efobi, K.O., Nwalusi, D.M., John-Nsa, C and Ibekwe, J. (2021). Waste-to-wealth: a panacea to the environmental impact of global climate change in Enugu metropolis, Nigeria. Paper prepared for 3rd International Conference on Energy and Sustainable Environment. Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria 19-21 October 2021.

Arifeen, H.M., Phoungthong, K., Mostafaeipour, A., Yuangyai, N., Yuangyai, C., Techato, K., Jutidamrongphan, W. (2021) Determine the Land-Use Land-Cover Changes, Urban Expansion and Their Driving Factors for Sustainable Development in Gazipur Bangladesh. Atmosphere 12, 1353. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/atmos12101353

Arora, N.K., Fatima, T., Mishra, I., Verma, M.K., Mishra, J., & Mishra, V. (2018). Environmental sustainability: challenges and viable solutions. Environmental Sustainability, 1, 309-340. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42398-018-00038-w

Atharinafi, Z and Wijaya, N. (2021). Land Use Change and Its Impacts on Surface Runoff in Rural Areas of the Upper Citarum Watershed (Case Study: Cirasea Sub-watershed). Journal of Regional and City Planning 32(1), 36-55 http://dx.doi.org/10.5614/jpwk.2021.32.1.3

Chukwurah, G.O., Okeke, F.O., Isimah, M.O., Igwe, A. E. (2022) Assessment of the performance of railway transportation in Nigeria from 1970 to 2010. Scientific African 15 (6) 1-12 e01120 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sciaf.2022.e01120

Cohen, B. (2006) Urbanization in Developing Countries: Current Trends, Future Projections, and Key Challenges of Sustainability. Technology in Society. 28, 63-80 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.techsoc.2005.10.005

Daramola, S.A and Ibem, E.O. (2010). Urban Environmental Problems in Nigeria: Implications for Sustainable Development. Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa (JSDA), 12(1), 124-145

Earth Explorer, http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/. 2019.

Echendu, I.F., Okeke, F.O. & Nnaemeka-Okeke, R.C. (2020). An investigation of challenges in the existing pattern of intra-city traffic in Enugu metropolis. Tema. Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 13 (2), 191-208. http://dx.doi.org/10.6092/1970-9870/6097

Enoguanbhor, C., Gollnow, F., Nielsen, J.O., Lakes, T and Walker, B.B (2019). Land Cover Change in the Abuja City-Region, Nigeria: Integrating GIS and Remotely Sensed Data to Support Land Use Planning. Sustainability, 11, 1313: 1-18 doi:10.3390/su11051313

EPA (2016) Climate Impacts on Society. United States Environmental Protection Agency Document. Available online @ https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-society_.html. Accessed 12th June, 2020.

FCDA (2001) The Review of Abuja master plan. In Proceedings of the International Workshop for the Review of Abuja Master Plan, Ladi Kwali Conference Center, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria, 29 November–2 December 2001.

FCDA (Federal Capital Development Authority), (1979) The Master Plan for Abuja, in the New federal Capital City of Nigeria; Federal Capital Development Authority Abuja: Abuja, Nigeria, personal communication 1979.

Fola Consult Ltd. (2011) Federal Capital City: Revised Land Use Plan—2011 Phases I, II & III; Federal Capital Development Authority: Abuja, Nigeria.

Hahs, A.K., McDonnell, M.J., McCarthy, M.A., Vesk, P.A. and Corlett, R.T. (2009) A global synthesis of plant extinction rates in urban areas. Ecology Letters. 12, pp.1165–1173. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01372.x

Holdgate, M.W. (1993) The sustainable use of tourism: A key conservation issue. Ambio, 22, pp. 481–482.

Lawal, O. and Adekunle, I. A. (2018). Access to land and the delivery of affordable housing in Nigeria: An assessment of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) in Abuja, 1991 to 2013. SAGE Open, 8 (2), 2158244018777281.

Lilly, R. A. and Monsingh, D. D. (2009). Analysis of Land Surface Temperature and Land Use/Land Cover Types Using Remote Sensing Imagery. The seventh International Conference on Urban Climate, Yokohama, Japan. 29 June - 3 July 2009

Makinde, O.O. (2012) “Urbanization, housing and environment: Megacities of African”. International Journal of Development and Sustainability. 1(3), pp. 976-993.

Mba, H.C., Udeh, B.C., Umeh, L.C and Uchegbu, B. (2004) “Management of Environmental Problems and Hazards in Nigeria”, Hants: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. pp 177-187.

Merem. E.C., Twumasi, Y., Wesley, J., Isokpehi, P., Fageir, L., Crisler, M., Romorno, C., Hines, A., Ochai, G.S., Leggett, S., Nwagboso, E. (2018). Analyzing emerging environmental issues in major areas: the case of Lagos in South west Nigeria. Architecture Research. 8(1),19–38. http://dx.doi.org/10.5923/j.arch.20180801.03

Montgomery, M.R. and Hewett, P.C. (2005). Urban health in developing countries: Household and neighborhood effects. Demography, 45, pp. 397-425

National population Commission (2006): Official gazette for the national population and housing survey. Abuja, Nigeria.

Nnaemeka-Okeke R. C, Okeke F. O, Sam-Amobi, C. (2020). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Nigeria: The Role of the Architect. Science, Technology & Public Policy. 4(1). 15-21. doi: 10.11648/j.stpp.20200401.13

Nwalusi, D.M., Okeke, F.O., Nnaemeka-Okeke, R.C., Nwosu, K.I (2022). A study of the impact of rural-urban migration and urbanization on public housing delivery in Enugu Metropolis, Nigeria. European Journal of Sustainable Development. In press 11 (4).

Obi, N. I., Nwalusi, D.M., Ibem, E.O., Okeke, F.O (2021). Assessment of the Role of Greenbelts in Environmental and Socio-Economic Development of Urban Areas in Southeast Nigeria. Civil Engineering and Architecture, 9(2), 545-557. DOI: 10.13189/cea.2021.090227.

Obi, N.I., Obi, J.C., Ibem, E.O., Nwalusi, D.M., Okeke, F.O (2021). Noise Pollution in Urban Residential Environments: Evidence from Students’ Hostels in Awka, Nigeria. Journal of Settlements and Spatial Planning, 12(1), 51-62. https://doi.org/10.24193/JSSP.2021.1.05

Odjugo, P.A.O. (2011) “Climate Change and Global Warming: The Nigerian Perspective” Journal of Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection. 1(16), 6-17.

Okeke, F. O (2021) Analyzing the Role of Architects in Achieving the Sustainable Cities Goal by 2030 In University-Led Knowledge and Innovation for Sustainable Development. Edited by F. A Anyogu, C.A Eme, J. A Ogbodo published by Boldscholar Research Ltd. Abuja, Nigeria Pp. 104-112

Okeke, F. O., Eziyi, I. O., Udeh, C. A., & Ezema, E.C. (2020) City as Habitat: Assembling the fragile city. Civil engineering Journal 2020; 6(6):1143-1154. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.28991/ cej-2020-03091536

Okeke, F.O., Chukwuali, B.C., and Idoko, A.E (2019) Environmentally responsive design; A study of Makoko floating school building, International Journal of Development and Sustainability, 8(8). 476-487

Okeke, F.O., Echendu, F.I. and Nnaemeka-Okeke, R.C. (2021) Determinants of intra-urban travel in southeast Nigeria; evidence from city of Enugu, Transport Problem 16 (4); 185–198, doi:10.21307/tp-2021-070.

Okeke, F.O., Gyoh, L. and Echendu, F.I. (2021) Impact of land use morphology on urban transportation. Civil engineering journal. 7(10); 1753-1773. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.28991/cej-2021-03091758

Okeke, F.O., Okosun, A.E., Udeh, C.A., Okekeogbu, C.J. (2020). Cities for People: The Dependency & Impact of Automobile in the Life of City Dwellers. European Journal of Sustainable Development. 9 (3); 157-178 doi: 10.14207/ejsd.2020.v9n3p157.

Okeke, F.O., Uzuegbunam, F.O., Nnaemeka-Okeke, R.C and. Ezema, E.C. (2021) People, people, everywhere; the architectural design response for Enugu city, Nigeria. Proceedings of the DII-2021 International Conference: “Building Smart, Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructure in Developing Countries” October 2021 p. 104-129

Okpalike, C.O., Okeke, F.O., Ezema, E.C., Oforji, P.I., Igwe, E.A. (2021) Effects of Renovation on Ventilation and Energy Saving in Residential Building. Civil Engineering Journal. Vol.7 124-134. http://dx.doi.org/10.28991/CEJ-SP2021-07-09

Olaitan, D. T. (2004). Sustainability and City Development. A Critique of the Implementation of the Abuja Master Plan. Akoka-Yaba, Nigeria: University of Lagos.

Orum, A.M and Chen X. (2003). The World of Cities: places in comparative and historical perspectives. Black-well: 180 pp https://doi.org/10.1080/14036090310017032

Potts, D. (2012). Challenging the myths of urban dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa: The evidence from Nigeria. World Development, 40 (7), 1382–1393

Reynolds, M. and S. Holwell, (2010) “Introducing Systems Approaches. In Systems Approaches to Managing Change: A Practical Guide”; Reynolds, M., Holwell, S., Eds.; Springer: London, UK; pp. 1–23.

Sahoo. J (2016). Solid waste management as green infrastructure: Pune. DMN 602: climate change and sustainable development, Indian institute of technology, Roorkee center of excellence in disaster mitigation and management. [accessed 2019 May 4] www.academia.edu//solid_waste_manage ment_as_green_infrastructure

Umunnakwe, C., Abarikwu, K.O., Azubuine, E.C (2018). Analysis of Urban Land Use Pattern and Spatial Changes in Nsukka, Enugu State, South-Eastern Nigeria. Journal of Physical Science and Environmental Studies. 4 (1),1- 9

Umunnakwe, H. C and Azubuine, C. E. (2019a). Analysis of Land use Spatial Changes in Enugu State, South Eastern Nigeria, West Africa, Journal of Urban Psychology and Environmental Reasoning, 27 (4), 247 -255

Umunnakwe, H. C and Azubuine, C. E. (2019b). Examining Urban Spatial Land Use Changes in Umuahia South, Abia State, Nigeria. Journal of Environmental management and Safety Volume 10: 11-20.

UNFPA, Abuja, (2015) “Population Projection” UNFPA in Abuja. https://data.un.org/Country Profile.aspx?crName=NIGERIA, 27 March, 2015.

UN-HABITAT (2006) Basic Facts on Urbanization, Nairobi: United Nations Human Settlements Programme

UN-HABITAT (2010) The State of African Cities 2010-Governance, Inequality, Urban Land Markets, Nairobi: United Nations Human Settlements Programme.

United Nations (2014), The Components of Urban Growth in Developing Countries; Population Division Department of Economic and Social Affairs: New York, USA, pp 1-64

Xian, G. (2007) Assessing Urban Growth with subpixel impervious Surface coverage. Weng Q. and Quattrochi (Eds): Urban Remote Sensing, CRC- Taylor and Francis, NY. Pp 179-199

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22146/ijg.70316

Article Metrics

Abstract views : 1235 | views : 235


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Gladys Chukwurah, Chioma John-nsa, Francis Okeke

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Accredited Journal, Based on Decree of the Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education, Republic of Indonesia Number 30/E/KPT/2018, Vol 50 No 1 the Year 2018 - Vol 54 No 2 the Year 2022

ISSN 2354-9114 (online), ISSN 0024-9521 (print)