Bolatito Dayo-Bababtunde manages land use and urban development in Nigeria’s capital city. Studying at ITC was a major step in managing her own development as a female professional.
Bolatito followed a Master’s programme in Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation for Urban Planning and Management at ITC. One of the challenges, she recalls, was coping with a heavy workload. ‘The ITC curriculum requires you to take exams almost every 3 to 4 weeks. At the same time, we were learning to work with various kinds of new software, such as Scenario 360, Erdas and ArcGis. It was hard work.’ Bolatito still benefits from this rigorous academic programme. ‘Studying at ITC really taught me how to work efficiently and to stick to my schedules,’ she says.
As a Development Control Officer at Nigeria’s Abuja Department of Development Control, Bolatito’s responsibilities include guiding and controlling land use in the Garki District, located in the southwest of the capital city. ‘My job is to keep tabs on illegal development and to propose policies for effective urban management based on global best practices. Resolving land use conflicts is also part of my work.’
Bolatito daily draws on what she learned and experienced at ITC. ‘Studying at ITC gave me access to best practices in my profession as well as an opportunity to engage with colleagues from other parts of the world facing similar challenges.’ She adds that field trips during her studies in the Netherlands were also eye-opening. ‘We visited flagship projects in Rotterdam, where brownfield land was used for the creation of iconic buildings that providing housing, generated jobs, attracted investors and improved the quality of life of people living in the area. One striking example I remember was an old factory that had been transformed into a school.’
In Abuja, where urban settlements all too often face demolition, this kind of innovative land use is much needed, says Bolatito. ‘I hope that someday in my country we will be able to use old, abandoned buildings and factories to create something beneficial to the community – something that will alleviating suffering and improve the quality of life of the people living there.’
Bolatito is grateful for the positive growth and development she has experienced in her own life. ‘The Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Programme has had a huge impact on my life,’ she says. ‘I was motivated to persevere and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been selected from among thousands of applicants. It is a great thing that the programme emphasises the education of women and girls, especially in countries in the southern hemisphere, where girls tend to be given far fewer opportunities for education. My advice to future scholarship applicants is: be courageous and determined, especially if you’re a girl from a country in the south, where financial resources for studying are limited. My story proves dreams can come true.’