Climate change in NigeriaAlthough most greenhouse gas emissions come from the global north, Africa will soon face some of the most severe impacts of the climate crisis. The country of Nigeria is in a uniquely vulnerable position. Home to around 200 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and 40% of Nigerians live below the national poverty line. Climate change and poverty can act in a vicious cycle. Impoverished people are often unable to adapt to increased temperatures or rising sea levels due to a lack of resources and mobility. When people lose their homes and livelihoods to climate change, they can face even greater poverty, especially when children lose access to education. This is also true for poverty and climate change in Nigeria.

Nigeria is located on the Gulf of Guinea, just north of the equator. Due to its size and geographical location, Nigeria is at risk for a great variety of climate-related challenges. Its northern regions, which border the Sahara, are experiencing increasing rates of desertification. Its low-lying coastal areas, meanwhile, are facing rising sea levels and flooding. Despite these challenges, the Nigerian government has set admirable sustainability goals. Furthermore, local farmers are using innovative techniques to adapt to climate change.

Urban Areas

Nigeria’s capital city, Lagos, is a rapidly growing economic center. It is home to between 15 and 26 million people and one-third of Nigeria’s GDP. Lagos is surrounded by massive slums which house half of the urban population. These slums, some of which are entirely composed of floating shacks and canoes, are at high risk of flooding as sea levels rise. Rising sea levels, another result of climate change in Nigeria, can cause erosion and contaminate freshwater. This damages Nigeria’s fishing industry, which feeds and employs many impoverished people. Inland areas of Lagos are also being inundated with refugees from coastal areas which have already been destroyed by flooding. As slum populations increase, living conditions become even more unhealthy and dangerous.


Many climate refugees in urban Nigeria come from inland, where conditions have made farming impossible for many poor families. Approximately 70% of Nigerians, many of whom live below the poverty line, rely on agriculture as their primary source of income. In 2018, thousands of people left the agricultural regions of northern Nigeria. They were displaced by droughts, food insecurity and “climate-related conflict.” According to a report from World Bank, the results of climate change in Nigeria such as rising temperatures and “erratic rainfall” could lead to a “20 to 30% reduction in crop yields.” Dust storms are also becoming more common and can significantly deplete topsoil layers. This can be crushing as these topsoil layers are crucial for successful farming. In addition to direct loss of income, poor agricultural yields will lead to food shortages. This harms Nigeria’s most vulnerable populations in both urban and rural areas.

What People Can Do

Although the climate crisis is already significantly impacting impoverished Nigerians, there are still possibilities for climate change mitigation and adaptation. A World Bank report called “Toward Climate-Resilient Development in Nigeria” outlines cost-effective strategies focused on increasing renewable energy generation and reducing agricultural and industrial pollution. One possible adaptation to climate change in Nigeria is a practice called “agroforestry.” This is where farmers plant trees around their crops and animal pastures, protecting them from increased temperatures and reducing topsoil depletion. This farm layout mimics a more natural landscape and can provide farmers with additional resources such as firewood. Additionally, it helps sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Agroforestry is gaining traction as an adaptation to climate change in Nigeria, and it could prove very useful in the future.

– Anneke Taylor
Photo: Wikimedia

poverty in LagosLagos, Nigeria is the fastest-growing city in the world, set to become a megacity by 2020. However, with its booming growth comes an underlying pang: millions suffer in poverty. Just how many, what caused so many to go hungry, and what is being done about it? Here are ten facts about poverty in Lagos.

10 Facts About Poverty in Lagos

  1. Nigerian statistics report that 8.5 percent of the near 21 million people living in Lagos, Nigeria live in poverty — about 1.7 million people.
  2. Overpopulation is a major factor in the growing number living below the poverty line. Also referred to as the city that won’t stop growing, Lagos does not have sufficient economic opportunities for the thousands of people who relocate there weekly. There is a shortage of jobs and housing.
  3. Government corruption and greed add to poverty concerns in Lagos. In 2017, it was reported that police officers raided the town of Otodo-Gbame, leaving thousands of poor Nigerians homeless. The raid was part of deals made with wealthy investors who desire more waterfront land. Instead of lifting the poor from slums in Lagos, wealthy investors are bulldozing waterfront slums to build high-rises and luxury hotels.
  4. The growing homeless population continues to fuel poverty in Lagos. Some 300,000-plus Nigerians are homeless in the growing city, mostly due to state-ordered demolitions and lack of space.
  5. According to Justice and Empowerment Initiatives Nigeria, 65 percent of the people living in Lagos are urban poor who live in slums and settlements.
  6. Thousands of poor residents in Lagos lack access to clean water. CNN reported a water crisis in Lagos which highlighted demand outweighing supply, some of the water never reaching households due to terrible water infrastructure.
  7. Millions lack access to roads, electricity and waste disposal, a result of being forced to live in slums and lagoons near locations that may hire them to work as domestic staff workers.
  8. Poverty leads to sickness and disease, both of which are common amongst those living in poverty in Lagos. According to the World Health Organization, from Jan. 1 to Apr. 15, 2018, 1,849 cases of Lassa fever were found in 21 states in Nigeria, with Lagos among them. This is a viral disease usually acquired from infected rat, and most sufferers live in areas where they don’t have access to hospitals or healthcare.
  9. Lack of education sparks poverty. Many families who live in slums and settlements cannot afford to send their children to school. As well, school facilities that offer quality education are not available for children who live in slum environments. If they are lucky enough to go to school, it’s a nearby meeting place, a small school building on the water where 100 pupils cram in to be taught by one teacher.
  10. Economic inequality has been an ongoing battle in Lagos for years. In an article concerning economic inequality in Lagos, it was reported that one could be looking at a mansion in close proximity to a slum. The Lagos government made claims it is fighting to create wealth in the midst poverty.

These facts skim the surface of the issues that are causing millions of Lagosians to live in poverty. However, they do shed light on issues that can be tackled with the right policies and aid.

In the meantime, the Lagos government is developing strategies to uplift all in Lagos. Governor Akinwunmi, through the N25 Billion Employment Trust Fund, plans to make more Lagosians self-employed, creating 300,000 direct and 600,000 indirect jobs by 2019.

As surety, the Lagos Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment was created to encourage entrepreneurship by using strategies that create wealth. Lagosians are expecting to see a turnaround on poverty in years to come.

– Naomi C. Kellogg

Photo: Flickr

The city of Lagos is working to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases emitted from their landfills using a state-of-the-art composting facility. This facility is dramatically reducing the volume of waste ending up in landfills by 10-20 percent.

It is Nigeria’s first composting project to be registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), earning the nation carbon credits that can be cashed with the World Bank.

Carbon credits, also known as carbon offsets, are becoming a fresh incentive for countries to become more environmentally sustainable.

As a financial instrument representing a tonne of CO2 (carbon dioxide) or CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent gases) removed or reduced from the atmosphere, the greener a nation’s industries are, the more financial carbon credits the nation will amount.

Since Nigeria’s industrial and commercial centers are home to more than 17 million, Lagos City’s population is expected to grow steadily to more than 21 million by the end of 2015, bringing an increased amount of unsorted waste.

Unfortunately, the city already has a problem with its landfill management practices, including poorly regulated methane emissions.

Still in the phase of its first verification, the project is expected to have approximately 30,000 carbon credits issued by the end of 2015. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the project. While operating at maximum capacity, the compost facility can process 1,500 metric tons of mainly organic waste per day. It has been projected that over the course of the next 10 years, greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by 253,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year as a result.

That translates to a lot of money through carbon credits for the Nigerian government to work on other sustainable development throughout the nation, benefiting all levels of society. But the monetary benefits of the carbon credits project are intended to stretch beyond the government, and trickle down in particular to the industrial and agricultural working classes.

In the industrial sector, the project is anticipated to create approximately 90 jobs at landfills throughout the city. In the agricultural sector, the byproduct of composting organic waste in landfills is extremely nutrient-rich soil. This soil is cheaper and more environmentally sound than the chemical fertilizer alternative that Nigerian farmers currently have available to them.

This increase in organic farming has been proven to improve soil quality and crop yields, increasing the productivity and profitability of farming throughout the region. As harvests improve and stabilize, there is a strengthening of national food security and increase in the region’s sustainable development.

Claire Colby

Sources: Carbon Planet, World Bank
Photo: Pixabay

In any major city in the United States today, people have easy wireless access to the Internet on smartphones. This is a luxury that many Americans do not even realize they have, and it is something that is just beginning to be offered in some of the largest cities in Africa, like Lagos, Nigeria.

Airtel, a telecommunications company headquartered in New Delhi, India, launched a Wi-Fi service to bring Internet access to Lagos that will allow people to access the Internet in public through their smartphones, laptops or any device with access to data services.

This is a groundbreaking change for Lagos. Anyone can use the service, regardless of what network they subscribe to. Now, unlike ever before, Nigerians will have public high speed internet access in Lagos.

Hotspots have already been set up in Ozone Cinema, Yaba, Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island and Alausa Shopping Mall. But Airtel plans to expand beyond this to more malls, and also airports and universities all over Nigeria.

The new Wi-Fi access will supposedly help to decrease the digital divide: the lack of access to Internet and technology in impoverished regions as well as the lack of skills to use technology. This is an acute issue in Africa: in 2013, according to World Bank, only 38 out of 100 Nigerians were Internet users. In 2013 in the United States, 84 of 100 people were internet users.

However, because of the price of the Airtel service, wireless data access may not reach the poorest populations of Nigerians in Lagos, the populations where the lack of smart technology and access to internet is felt most acutely.

Airtel spokesperson, Maurice Newa, explained how the service works. “The bundles can be purchased using Airtel recharge cards and debit cards while Airtel subscribers can buy bundles with their airtime. The service, which is also aimed at promoting the use of Internet, will provide customers wider opportunities to connect with friends, family and business associates.” Customers purchase data bundles by time (30 minutes, 1, 2, 3, or 5 hours).

It seems fairly simple and cheap from an American perspective. To purchase 30 days of 1 GB smartphone usage with Airtel is 2,000 Nigerian Naira, or about 10 American dollars. The United States’ GDP per capita in 2013 was 53,042— so this service amounts to only a tiny fraction of the average American income.

For the average Nigerian, whose GDP per capital in 2013 was 3,005.5 USD, 30 days of 1 GB of data is slightly expensive, but maybe doable. But for vast amounts of Lagos citizens who are below average, who live below the poverty line on less than one dollar per day, this service is most likely impossible to afford. And, these impoverished sects most likely do not own the smart technology to even be able to take advantage of wireless data.

Airtel says it will offer 15 minutes of free data usage each month. Consider the hours the average American spends scrolling through FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, news apps and more in just one day, and 15 minutes amounts to very little.

Maurice Newa, the chief commercial officer of Airtel Nigeria, believes the initiative will strengthen Airtel’s relationship with its customers. “This service is designed to delight our customers with ultra-high speed internet service. We want to connect with them in smarter and rewarding ways, to fulfil their communication needs. Our mission is to enrich the lives of Nigerians through the provision of exceptional experience and the introduction of this service is an attestation of our commitment.”

In 1999 when communication technology was much less integrated in day to day life, UN secretary general Kofi Annan pointed out how access to communication technology is a fundamental human right, and the digital divide is a dire issue that needs to be addressed globally.

Bringing internet access to Lagos will allow people to connect and no longer be cut off from basic communication. “The capacity to receive, download and share information through electronic networks, the freedom to communicate freely across national boundaries – these must become realities for all people. These people lack many things: jobs, shelter, food, health care and drinkable water. Today, being cut off from basic telecommunications services is a hardship almost as acute as these other deprivations, and may indeed reduce the chances of finding remedies to them.”

– Margaret Mary Anderson

Sources: Airtel, All Africa, IT News Africa, Gunkel Web, World Bank
Photo: Naija 247 News

In the city of Lagos, Nigeria, progress promises economic growth and reform. Yet, as the ambitious governor Babatunde Fashola regenerates the city, progress also threatens to destabilize the 70% of residents in poverty.

Future plans range from building more than 1,000 additional housing units to constructing a light-rail network across the city. In the financial district, a Porsche dealership recently opened.

Yet, the growing homeless population contrasts with this economic expansion. In its quest for a Lagos “that glitters,” the government forced an estimated 10,000 from the Badia East slum. While men, women and children search through the rubble for any salvageable remnants, most residents feel shocked at the loss, but others direct anger at the governor.

“This is the home I am staying in before Fashola demolished it,” asserts 28-year-old John Momoh.

Badia East continues a 15-year trend, according to activists. In the summer of 2012, the government dispatched machete-carrying men to remove about 30,000 residents of the Makoko neighborhood. Residents report receiving a 20-minute warning before the government backhoes arrived.

The regeneration of slums promises economic growth, but limited protection for those in poverty. As the New York Times notes, “the government had destroyed their present…without making any provision for their future.”

Badia East collapsed a year ago. Today, though, Lagos progresses with plans to benefit every resident.

With more than 21 million residents, this Nigerian city generates an estimated 10,000 metric tons of waste per day. The National Population Commission projects a 3% to 6% annual growth rate. As population rises, the government invests in a more efficient management of waste to provide housing and electricity to its residents.

A severe shortage in electricity led to a reliance on diesel generators, which pollute the air and threaten the health of low-income residents. Those in poverty often live in the more polluted districts and cannot afford healthcare to combat potential health complications.

There is progress, however. A pilot program converts the waste into methane gas, providing the much-needed electricity. At the Olusosun waste site, pipes plunge vertically into the ground to collect the gas.

One day, these pipes will fire boilers to generate electricity, reports Abimbola Jijoho-Ogun of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority. Though not a new innovation, this policy reflects an understanding of the environment. With more than 45% of its waste organic, the city can use this high moisture to provide for its residents.

As chief executive of the waste management program, Ola Oresanya highlights the benefits of this program. It converts “waste to energy, which is in demand, and over time might also be viable as job creation.”

The recycling program offers this solution to unemployment in Lagos. Referred to as “resource providers” by the city, 500 men and women search through the waste and collect items to sell.

“We go through the scraps and look for shoes, iron, plastic, which we sort and sell it to companies,” Samuel Jatel reports.

Jatel, 29, provides for his wife and 3-year-old child as a resource provider. In four years, he can earn about 5,000 naira (roughly $30) per day.

Yet, thousands remain homeless.

Though the city employed residents in its waste management reform, it has not released plans for building new housing units. Those forcibly removed from their neighborhoods cannot afford to return. The Social and Economic Rights Action Center reports Badia residents earn less than $100 a month, adding “there’s not a chance they can afford it.”

Employing these residents in the construction of the new houses. Labor and payment program offers security to those who lost their homes at the hand of progress.

– Ellery Spahr

Sources: Associated Press, New York Times
Photo: Nadim Chidiac