Water Levels in Lagos Indicate An Impending Fundamental Change

Lagos is just one conspicuous example of climate change.

The coastal society, Lagos, was in July 2011, a victim of flooding due to torrential rainfall in the region. At least half of Nigeria’s population lives and works in this coastal region of high social, environmental, and economic value to the country. Moreover, approximately 99 percent of choicest residential properties are located within 110 metres of the soft, erodible shorelines. As the population grows, so does the exposure of Lagos to dehumanizing climatic mishaps.

Lagos’ aquatic splendour is currently hanging by a threat. This populous and commercial city of Africa is the last resort of high-value investors and the unemployed. The city is threatened by high risk of urban and coastal flooding emanating from climate change and sea level rise – both of which are furthered by the region’s poor drainage. Several 2011 research studies have established that Lagos is challenged by coastal erosion problems resulting from natural and anthropogenic events that have disrupted traffic flow, flooding of roads and property. For instance, in 2006, Lagos registered a 4.9 feet sea level rise above the normal within a 2-day period, a phenomenon that enlisted the megacity as one of the most vulnerable city to sea level rise.

A number of factors are responsible for Lagos’ climatic plight. An influx of approximately 3,000 migrants from the countryside in search of better living standards and employment opportunities threatens the city, making it one of the world’s fastest growing cities. Also, Lagos is situated in a low lying coastal region rendering it vulnerable to heavy rainfall, erosion, and sea level rise. Also, massive melting of ice caps and thermal expansion of ocean water are to blame for sea level rise in Lagos.

The effects of sea level rise include increased coastal erosion, flood risk and potential of life loss, loss of coastal habitats and property, change in surface water quality, and loss of cultural resources like tourism sites, transport and recreational facilities.

In an attempt to curb the problem, the Lagos State Government devised a plan to erect a high wall – a 6.5 kilometres sea barrier – to cut off the impeding sea level rise. The project is targeted at creating an Eko Atlantic City to accommodate 250, 000 residents and 150 service workers. The strategy is projected to be environmentally green and help reposition Lagos to the 1950s and 1960s.

Amid water crisis, the Nigerian government illegalized people from fetching water. The bill banned drilling of more boreholes and criminalized transportation and selling of water. According to Nigerian activists, the ruling prioritizes the State’s efforts to privatize the water sector in the city. The head of Center for Children’s Health Education, Orientation, and Protection, Betty Abah joined the civil society groups, stating that it is “Incredible! We will resist”.

Accordingly, the Corporate Accountability International and civil society groups jointly proposed an alternative solution to the water crisis, calling on the government to stop infringing on the citizens’ right to access clean water by rejecting privatization. The report outlined that the government needs to collaborate with the civil society groups to devise a publicly funded water plan. Heller held a similar standpoint, terming the House of Assembly’s proposal towards water crisis as “unacceptable”.

However, the government fails to address the plight of about 70 per cent of Lagos’ population residing in slum settlements being affected by adverse impact of over urbanization and infrastructural deficit. Subsequently, no evidence exists, supporting the claim that astronomical population growth directly influences physical, biological, and chemical characteristics of the lagoon upon which resides people, e.g. the Makoko slum in Yaba.

Undoubtedly, today’s global temperature increase can be attributed to human-made, anthropogenic cause, which in turn has led to greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration. The consequence has been the nemesis of hazards like extreme temperatures, wind patterns and ocean warnings. There is increased emission of GHG from the burning of fossil fuels, undermining the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an international accord with an objective of reducing emission of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere. Because of global warming, there is worldwide increase in evaporation levels, excessive rainfall, and global temperatures. Lagos is not the only city that is a victim of rising sea levels and specifically climatic changes. A multitude of responsibilities must be taken by governments across the world, in order to fight climate change, and atleast arrest further damage.

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