Essay Sample: Planning and Clean Water Shortage Problems Facing Makoko

Published: 2022-05-30
Essay Sample: Planning and Clean Water Shortage Problems Facing Makoko
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Water Community health
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1861 words
16 min read


Makoko, an informal settlement located in Lagos, was founded by immigrants from the Egun ethnic group in the late 19th century, and it was first a fishing village. However, from a village, its population has grown immensely, which necessitated the people to move on to the water. Currently, Makoko is considered a home to various riverine communities that live along the coast of Nigeria. Since it is a riverine town, a huge amount of water usually enters Lagos on a daily basis, which ends up in a variety of informal settlements, including Makoko.

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However, Makoko is a nightmare for the state government. As a city on the progress of recreating itself as forward-looking, Makoko is a dismal advertisement and is the centre of planning issues. For example, there was a demolition of structures without prior planning and consideration of the people living in the areas. In July 2012, the government delivered a 72-hour notice to the residents that they needed to vacate. After demolitions, assault escalated and the demolition workers burnt structures and arranged armed police to fire gunshots, and this culminated to one resident being killed, which halted the demolition process. The demolition rendered 30,000 residents homeless (Ogunlesi and Esiebo para 5). As Ogunlesi and Esiebo highlighted, "The idea that the government can simply push people from their homes, with no discussion, no recognition of decades of residency ... seems unfortunately normal in Lagos," says Robert Neuwirth, who lives in and writes about informal settlements like Makoko around the world. "The authorities in Lagos seem to approach city planning from an authoritarian point of view - as if their desire for development transcends everything" (Ogunles and Esiebo para 5).

Further, there was a strong pushback against the 2012 demolition. After two months, Urban Spaces Innovation, a Serac housing affiliate stated to work on Makoko regeneration plan. As of January 2014, Urban Spaces iNNovation submitted a plan to the Lagos State Ministry of Urban and Physical planning. Even so, not everyone is a fan of putting in place plans for regeneration or slum development. This is especially when there are demolitions that affect the locals. For this reason, the possible option for the future of Makoko is that the state government will halt obsessing about demolitions and instead focus of providing infrastructure that the locals expect of their administrators, which include electricity, schools, and hospitals, as well as allow Makoko to develop in its own way and in its own pace.

For some time, Lagos, Nigeria has been called the "Venice of Africa" to some. Even though it is surrounded by water, there is a shortage of drinking water. There is a water problem despite the fact that Lagos is surrounded by water. According to a 2016 report on the daily water demand for clean water, Lagos needed 724 million gallons but only 317 million gallons were produced, out of which only some of it makes way to the residents owing to the failure of transmission pipes, as well as old trunk lines. According to "Rainfall/ Precipitation in Lagos, Nigeria," Lagos rainfall estimates are an average of 59.3 inches of rainfall of an annual basis, but with the low and reducing level of sewage and sanitation system, the rainfall only makes the water crisis experienced in the city worse. This owes to the fact that the sewage makes the water unclean. Further, Makoko, the city's slum community is filled with increasing population of people living in canoes, and the people have no clean water supply. The Nigerian government highlighted in its 2010-2020 water plan that Lagos needs around $2.5 billion in order to modernize its water infrastructure, but instead of facing the real cause of the crisis, which could trace back to the large-scale corruption of the Lagos State Water Corporation, they are approaching the crisis by simply commodifying water supply. As a result, the majority of Lagos residents rely on the informal sector comprised of wells, boreholes, rivers and rainwater for water supply, which could cost as much as $44 per month where the average monthly wage of Nigeria is $47 (Oluwafemi para 4).

As such, the paper looks into the planning and clean water shortage issues facing Makoko. After looking into the problems, the paper will delve into how they can be rectified, which will contribute towards the establishment better working mechanisms regarding planning and water supply in Makoko. Essentially, the paper proposes the development of a rainfall water collection system that will be encompassed of the collection, filtration, and storage mechanisms. Collecting rainwater will help solve the issue of shortage of clean drinking water. The paper will make recommendations to the government in how it can implement developmental plans for the community while also allowing for their involvement.


The Makoko community is associated with neglect from the government, which is deemed to be incompetent in dealing with the issues facing the informal communities, such as the Makoko. The 2012 demolitions, which were not effectively planned by the government put approximately 200,000 individuals out of their homes, and now the population is estimated to be just over 85,000. The poor planning associated with the demolitions is that the Local State Governor sanction the demolition of homes of people who had been living in the community and owning the land for generations. After they rightfully resisted, there was bloodshed. For instance, Pastor Timothy Kunkpoyanwai, a traditional ruler was murdered in cold blood. For many decades, the Makoko people have known no other home, which means that the demolitions greatly affected their survival and livelihood. Even though Babatunde Raji Fahola, the Lagos Governor sanctioned the demolition, saying that it was the primary responsibility of the government, there was no adequate planning and compensation of those affected.

As such, the government justified their actions as to why they demolished the locals' homes. Now the community suffers a great neglect from the government despite the fact that they live in poverty with many of the families being overcrowded as many of them are crammed in single rooms. The sanitation is also a problem because they share common latrines that discharge raw effluence into the rubbished and dirty waterways. Due to the water environment and lack of sanitation, malaria and cholera are rife, and additionally, there have been cases of polio, which strikes children at random. Due to the poor living conditions, the life expectancy is extremely low, at 40. This implies that from all aspects, the Makoko are living in numerous problems and any fairness in bettering their lives seems to be distant. In fact, the slum is considered as a labyrinth of flimsy wooden planks that are perched on supports in the lagoon, forming narrow raised pathways above the stinking water. Additionally, clapboard houses, as well as small improvised churches nestle against each other at strange and unplanned angles as slowly sink into the bog.

The community consists of people who are highly religious. However, people canoe to the improvised churches, and religion is important as it gives them a sense of hope and togetherness (Cohen A4). It is impressive how the community gets along considering the plight they have. They have high spirits, for example, the community has built the Makoko Floating School, which was completed in 2012 by NLE Architects. The structure is devoid of foundation as it floats on water owing to 256 plastic barrels that were salvaged from the edge of the Lagos Lagoon. Bing a three-storey building, it serves both as a school, as well as a public space. It was designed to utilize local materials and labour, as well as recycled objects, which suggests an idea of the community put into practice. It is a floating structure for Makoo and more so, it acts as a symbol of hope.

As such, Makoko is representative of an irony in a mega city like Lagos as it should be developed just like the entire capital. Many of the residents live on the lagoon belt in an unhygienic and repulsive condition. However, the community has continued to weather the storm. Aerial photographs show the resilience of the local inhabitants. Essentially, Makoko is composed of an exotic breed of individuals who strive to make a meaningful life in spite of all odds. The riverside settlement of Makoko is mainly located in Yaba local government area of the Lagos metropolis, which implies that it should have the same level of development just like the rest of the metropolis but this is not the case. The locals are mainly migrants of the coastal communities of Benin, Ghana, Togo, and Niger Delta. The major occupation is trading and fishing. The remote location of Makoko around the lagoon in addition to the poor status of the locals have made the community to suffer serious infrastructural and environmental deficiencies, such as inadequate schools, roads, housing, and healthcare facilities. Based on the problem statement, the major problem of the settlement is inadequate shelter and services, particularly lack of safe drinking water supply, poor sanitation and drainage, use of the low-grade domestic field, poor methods of solid waste management. Additionally, there is a health risk associated with the overcrowding and the occupation and degradation of the environment. Additionally, they are exposed to high levels of water and air pollution. The community lacks the political power to pressure the government to help in sustainable planning, providing a cleaner environment, and provide clean water.


Since water is an abundant resource, the most vital step is promoting sustainability and productivity via better practices that allow for water cultivation. For this reason, community involvement is paramount. The proposal for controlling clean water shortages encompasses the use of a water collection system, where the community can play a part. Essentially, collecting rainwater is an activity that the locals can be involved in. As such, the rainwater needs to be collected and purified using filters, which will also demand the use of a hydroponics system. Even though this is optional, it might be of use to the residents interested in plant growth. The hydroponics system will mainly be used to increase the utility of water resources to more than just personal consumption. As such, it will increase the water resource utility to more than just personal consumption. In addition, a water garden is paramount for mitigating floods caused by rains, water detoxification, and well as bringing the community together. Essentially, the water and sanitation issue in Nigeria has been insufficiently dealt with. For this reason, this proposal is cost-efficient and will benefit the residents in the long run. However, NGOs will be important for providing funds to implement the proposal, and most importantly, support from the government. The project will also entail people who will train the locals on how to implement the project. For this reason, for the success of the project, community involvement is a must.

The rainwater collection system design has to take into consideration of the space, size, access, cost, as well as natural factors. Each home can benefit from using such a system. Simplicity has to be considered. The system will be vital in providing access to clean water to the residents, which will eliminate the issue of clean water shortage and inaccessibility to clean drinking water.

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