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Sustaining Lagos through institutional reforms

Lagos, 4 September 2014 — Good governance coupled with political will creates an environment where policies can create sustainable development. One way to achieve this is through institutional reforms. See how these factors work together in Lagos to improve the lives of residents, spur growth and employment, and cater to both human and environmental needs. See more.

Securing daily transportation and road use

Lagos, 13 August 2014 — Enhanced security efforts in Lagos are creating a safer city for residents. Initiatives like a security trust fund made up of various security agencies, and recent traffic laws created to improve safety in Lagos are gradually impacting road safety and general well-being for Lagos commuters. See more.

The city of Lagos' tenancy and home ownership schemes

Lagos, 15 July 2014 — Housing is a challenge in Lagos, especially for the urban poor, due to city density and high costs. This situation has led to the prominence of slum areas with megacity upgrades, resulting in slum demolition and homelessness. In response to this, the city has devised a scheme to provide Lagosians with homes. See more.

Boko Haram's refugees

Before 2013, the term "urban refugees" in Nigeria would have referred to the victims of government demolitions of slums in Nigeria's busiest cities, like Lagos and Port Harcourt. Last year I visited Ijora Badia, in Lagos, where 9,000 persons were displaced by a government demolition project. Those refugee-by-demolition numbers, however, pale when compared to the number of persons displaced by the terrorist uprising that has ravaged Nigeria’s northeast region in recent years. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said that half a million persons had been displaced within Nigeria by the crisis, which started in 2011 and has escalated since the end of 2013. Read more.

"Let them own their own homes!" — the Lagos housing challenge

I've written a fair bit about the housing problem in Lagos. A city of anything between 15 and 18 million persons, with a 48.6% poverty rate (2012), and an acute shortage of low-cost housing. There's of course no shortage of luxury housing. Victoria Island and Ikoyi are home to hundreds of empty luxury apartments; priced out of reach of all but the insanely wealthy. IT entrepreneur Jason Njoku has got an interesting post on the economics of housing prices in Lagos. Two years ago I wrote extensively on the Eko Atlantic City project being spearheaded by the state government, adding 9 square kilometers of reclaimed luxury territory ("the Manhattan of West Africa") to Lagos' Victoria Island. Any news of progress in terms of access to (relatively) low-cost housing is therefore much welcome. Which leads me to the focus of today's post. Read more.

Urban farms in Lagos – a feasible proposal?

I recently attended the launch of an exhibition at the Goethe Institute's Lagos office, on the "Post-Oil City", drawing on efforts from all around the world to create cities that have tamed the traditional hunger for fossil fuels. Some of them are brand new cities (like Masdar in Abu Dhabi), others are existing cities trying to make changes (Curitiba, Brazil, which in 1974 launched the world’s first BRT system). Read more.

Youth focus: can grassroots movements bring in girls' voices?

Data has emerged showcasing the latest trends of our demographic shift — the global population now articulates a 'youth bulge'. The UN-Population Demographic Profile (2010) show children, and 'youths', comprise 1.6bn, and 1.0bn, of the population in less-developed regions. The population is younger; and Sub-Saharan Africa is no exception. Attention is now turning to youths: what young people do, what opportunities they initiate for their families and nations, and what it means to be 'young' in the developing world. However, an important caveat requires recognition: the focus has been particularly male-focused. Our understanding of girls, within both public and private spaces, remains limited. Such is the debate in this blog post — if we are now looking at 'kids' in the city and development, what are the experiences of girls? What can we learn about the city through an engendered perspective? Fundamentally, who is responsible to grant equal rights? Two models of intervention are discussed be, each using alternative methods to provide rights for girls. However, each acts to reinforce the need to improve our understandings on 'being' a girl. Read more.

Urban development and the well-being of the bottom millions

Lagos is on the cusp of a radical change in the way the city is organised. Not only is the first light rail being built in the city, thirty years after the idea was first mooted; the government has also recently announced that construction will soon start on the 4th Mainland Bridge, long overdue by many standards. A few years ago I listened to a talk by the designers of that bridge, and was fascinated by how they envisioned it to not only work as a conventional bridge but also a direct stimulant/supporter of economic activity. The design is of a two-level bridge, the upper one for vehicular movement, the lower one for a combination of a tram line, rows of shops and goods vendors, and a pedestrian lane; that idea informed by the realization that modernizing Lagos does not have to happen at the expense of the trademark hustle-and-bustle that gives the city its peculiar character and feel; the things that make Lagos Lagos. Read more.

Educating new planners in Africa, but what is the future?

Within development studies a shift has been identified. An increasing sense of consciousness has emerged on whose ideas are being used to theorise development practice, whether they are applicable, and offer effective solutions. The post-development school of thought is centred on deconstructing 'universal' ideas of development. Novel viewpoints have emerged which are transforming how the 'developing' world is understood and what role citizens of the Global South can play. With post-development thought, urban researchers, and planners, are advancing new thinking to plan inclusive cities in the Global South. In a succeeding event on urbanisation at the African Research Institute, the subject matter was how urban planning in Africa is adapting for the future. Read more.

Whatever happened to Africa's rapid urbanisation?

Deborah Potts, Kings College London / Africa Research Institute

It is widely believed that urbanisation is occurring faster in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world, as migrants move from rural to urban settlements. This is a fallacy. While the populations of numerous urban areas are growing rapidly, the urbanisation levels of many countries are increasing slowly – if at all. Natural increase, rather than net in-migration, is the predominant growth factor in most urban populations. African governments, policymakers and international donors need to acknowledge fundamental changes in urbanisation trends, and respond to the irrefutable messages these impart about urban employment, incomes and economic development. Read more.