How Socially INClusive are sustainable Urban developments in Nigeria and Vietnam


The world is becoming increasingly urbanised, and different frameworks for sustainable urban environments guide these developments. Meanwhile, there are growing concerns about social inclusion with many groups (e.g. rural poor in Nigeria, ethnic minorities in Vietnam) facing difficulties in accessing key public services and resources, such as healthcare and nutrition/food security.

Major frameworks for sustainable urban environments typically prioritise effective governance, energy, infrastructure, and transport. While the most visible elements of the sustainable cities agenda include the ‘hardware’ components of the above frameworks (e.g. infrastructure), it is less clear in what way these frameworks address the ‘software’ issues (e.g. rights) and specifically social inclusion.

The study addresses this knowledge gap through generating high-quality evidence on ways of mainstreaming social inclusion within sustainable urban environments, using healthcare and nutrition/food security as the two case studies.

Study objectives and questions

We will: (a) conduct a systematic review of the underlying bases of sustainable urban environment frameworks and the extent to which social inclusion (access to healthcare and nutrition/food security) is addressed within these frameworks and (b) share results at workshops with key stakeholders in Nigeria and Vietnam to co-produce the agenda for future research and development.

The study addresses the following research questions:

1. Which theories underpin current frameworks and approaches for sustainable urban environments, and in what way do these frameworks recognise social inclusion?

2. In what way does development and implementation of national policies for sustainable urban environments address social inclusion within the contexts of Nigeria and Vietnam?

a. What evidence exists on their effectiveness in ensuring equal access to healthcare/universal health coverage and nutrition/food security amongst all population groups?

3. Which theoretical model and transferable best practices can be developed for mainstreaming social inclusion within policies on sustainable urban environments?


This cross-disciplinary study leverages expertise from health policy and systems, political sciences, and food and nutrition. It includes two phases:

The first Phase (November 2019 – May 2020) involves a rigorous systematic review of available evidence on the topic. The review will specifically focus on access to services (healthcare) and resources (nutrition/food security) as the two case studies of social inclusion. This review will also be supplemented by analysis of key policy and strategy documents from Nigeria and Vietnam.

The second Phase (June-July 2020) involves 1-2 day stakeholder workshops in Nigeria and Vietnam with key actors related to urban sustainability policies, strategies, and plans. The workshops, we will present results of the systematic review and policy analysis, identify key priority areas from the stakeholder perspective and co-produce agenda for future research and development to inform our future engagements in each country.

Project outputs

  • Protocol for the systematic review: Tolib Mirzoev, Neil Winn, Yun Yun Gong, Ghazala Mir, Kerina Tull, Judy Wright, Natalie King. Systematic review of theoretical underpinnings of, and consideration of social inclusion within, urban sustainability. PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020165008

  • Policy Brief (presented at stakeholder workshop organised by the University of Nigeria in Abuja, Nigeria on 28 July 2020)Obinna Onwujekwe, Charles T. Orjiakor, Chukwuedozie Ajaero, Chinyere Mbachu, Prince Agwu, Juliana Onuh, Aloysius Odii, Benjamin Uzochukwu and Tolib Mirzoev (2020). How Socially Inclusive are Urban Development Policies on health and nutrition in Nigeria? Insights from policy analysis. Policy Brief, Social Inclusion project, Enugu, Nigeria. University of Nigeria Enugu Campus 

  • Animation video (produced by Hanoi University of Public Health) Hanoi – Sustainable Inclusive Urban Developments. Hanoi University of Public Health: 

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Project Impact

This pump-priming study will provide a solid foundation for a subsequent programme of research and development, on mainstreaming social inclusion within policies and strategies for sustainable urban environments.

The key policy impact from this study include increased awareness of ways of addressing issues of social inclusion within sustainable urban environments amongst the key stakeholders, informing their policies, plans and actions and in the longer-term leading towards increased social inclusion within rapidly-expanding cities in Nigeria and Vietnam.

The academic impact will be rigorous synthesis of available evidence on ways of mainstreaming social inclusion within sustainable urban environments, leading to a robust framework to inform future scholarship on the topic.

Project Team University of Leeds: 

Hanoi University of Public Health:

University of Nigeria Enugu Campus