Nigeria currently has one of the largest homeless populations in the entire world. The reasons for this are numerous and complex, but there are many solutions to rectify the situation. This article presents 10 important facts concerning the issue of homelessness in Nigeria.
10 Facts About Homelessness in Nigeria
- Approximately 24.4 million homeless people live in Nigeria. This accounts for roughly 13 percent of the nation’s overall population. The issue is particularly egregious in the capital of Lagos, where 70 percent reside in “informal settlements.”
- Force eviction exacerbates the homelessness problem. This happens by the threat of violence, in the hopes of making Lagos an international business center. Around 1 million people had to leave their homes in the last 15 years alone.
- Government officials in Lagos typically give no warning before forcibly removing residents. For example, men wielding machetes cleared out an entire neighborhood. As a result, this made 30,000 Nigerians homeless instantly.
- In some cases, government officials are using children to do their bidding. Area boys are gangs of children and teenagers who the government employs to assist in demolitions. They also steal the belongings of those they are displacing.
- The government perceives these forced evacuations much differently. The Lagos state commissioner for housing insists that residents received plenty of notice and that they cleared the “shanties” to make way for new housing developments. However, the residents begged to differ and pointed out that they will not be able to afford the new housing units.
- Forced removals largely target the nation’s poor. This accounts for a staggering 70 percent of Nigeria’s population. This includes the 60 percent living in absolute poverty, or those only able to afford basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter.
- Terrorist activities uprooted many Nigerians. Boko Haram is a radical Islamist terrorist organization based in Northeast Nigeria. Ten years after its uprising in 2009, over 2 million are still displaced from their homes in the region.
- Natural disasters have also impacted homelessness in Nigeria. A flood in 2018 killed nearly 200 people and left almost 300,000 Nigerians homeless. Additionally, the flood spread diseases such as cholera, which killed 97 in northeast Nigeria.
- Homelessness in Nigeria affects children greatly. There are roughly 8.6 million orphaned children in Nigeria many of whom live in places such as bridges, railway stations and markets. These homeless youth account for a large percentage of the 10.5 million Nigerian children who do not attend school despite being of legal school age.
- There are many efforts to reach the street kids of Nigeria. Nigerians who are working to help homeless youth include James Okina. Okina is a former street kid who founded the program Street Priests when he was just 15 years old, which is an organization to rehabilitate homeless children. Moreover, Seyi Oluyole is a choreographer with the organization who is attempting to heal street youth by teaching dance. Okina reached approximately 3,330 through his practice of social and emotional learning. Other organizations like Street Child seek to place displaced children back in school and assist with social and psychological problems.
Homelessness is an unfortunate reality for many Nigerians. While many consider that Nigeria’s population will double by 2050, it is imperative to solve the homelessness issue now. Several organizations have already made strides to combat the problem. If awareness continues to spread, lives should improve and change.
– Joshua Roberts