Implementation of Urban Greenery Standards Faces Drawbacks: Ministry

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June 6/12019 Targets set for implementing the urban Greenery Strategy for Ethiopia seems to be at loggerheads with the booming construction sector in cities due to lack of constant follow up and evaluation, according to Ministry of Urban Development and Construction.
Constructions carried out in cities are under par with the National Urban Green Infrastructure standard and strategies set by the country earlier.

The National Urban Green Infrastructure standard of 2014 stipulates that 30 percent of the land should be allocated for roads and infrastructure, 30 percent for green areas and shared public use and 40 percent for building construction.

It also states that cities should ensure a minimum of 15 meter square public green open space per capital within the city boundaries and every resident to live within 500 meter from a public green open space of a size of at least 0.3 hectare.

Urban Climate Development and Beautification Director at Ministry of Urban Development and Construction, Azeb Belete said that implementing the standards in cities like Addis Ababa is facing difficulties.

She added that this because the city has already exceeded its limits in constructing buildings before the standard was launched in 2014.

However, Azeb stated that concerted efforts are being made to diligently implement the standards in the cities that are flourishing recently.

“Whereas in cities like Addis Ababa where there are many buildings, we are at least trying to balance by introducing balcony and ceiling greeneries in buildings that are already built but it does not mean it will continue that way,” she pointed out.e

Construction permits are approved and granted after ensuring the fulfillment of all the necessary criteria, she said, and added “but no one monitors and evaluates what is going on at the project level.”

The Director stressed that strict follow up and evaluations are essential to control the performances in the sector and take corrective measures against those who fail to implement the national standard.

Urban Forest Development and Management Expert at Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission, Zelalem Addis on his part said that construction and green coverage in cities is not well harmonized and integrated, especially in Addis Ababa.

“The country has strategies but there is a visible difficulty on implementing the national standards. Therefore, we will have cities that are adverse for its residents if we are not able to do beyond the existing strategies in greenery,” he elaborated.

Zelalem added that coordination among pertinent stakeholders and primarily urban planners is crucial to ensure green areas in an increasingly urbanizing nation.

Describing greenery as “the breath of urban dwellers”, the Expert urged the public to work towards expanding green areas with a sense of ownership.

Engineer Gedion Asfaw, who is Advisor at Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, said that the green space per capital of Addis Ababa is much below the standard of World Health Organization (WHO).

He pointed out that the launch of beautifying Addis Ababa’s riverside project, which is initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, will cover 56 kilometers and planting 40 trees per person will have greater impact on the society’s attention to preserving green areas.

Mentioning that residents should have a nearby green space, Engineer Gedion noted “this should concern Kebeles as green spaces are not confined only to parks”.

“Whenever construction permits are given to real-estates developers, it must be ensured that part of the construction site is allocated for green areas. I think we all want to see the standards implemented on the ground and see the supervisors maintain standards are carried out as it is their responsibility,” he noted.

Lack of strict follow up and evaluation, stakeholder’s coordination, short of professionals in the sector and the society’s lack of sense of ownership are among the challenges facing urban greenery development.

Ethiopia has prepared National Urban Green Infrastructure Standards (NUGIS) to create the framework for municipalities to provide effective and sustainable urban green infrastructure (UGI) for their citizens in order to protect public health and environmental quality.