Saturday, July 12, 2014

Transforming Makoko

Makoko. Credit: Daily mail
Lagos aims to be a mega city.  In terms of population, it is already one but it is not inclusive. An inclusive city is defined as “one that values all people and their needs equally. It is one in which all residents—including the most marginalized of poor workers—have a representative voice in governance, planning, and budgeting processes, and have access to sustainable livelihoods, legal housing and affordable basic services such as water/sanitation and an electricity supply.”  In addition to being non-inclusive, research estimates that 70% of Lagos residents  live in slums i.e dwellings deplorable and unfit for humans. 
To address the "problems of slums", the state government embarked on slum demolition projects especially in  Makoko (a floating slum near Ebutte- Meta, population:100,000) in 2012. Rather than resolve the issue, the demolition worsened housing problems for residents as some converted their canoes to houses whilst others live under the bridges or school buildings.
An alternative to slum demolition is to reconstruct the slum as a floating community. The notion of floating homes is not new- it has been around for years and became popular after WW1 as an alternate source of housing due its affordability. It  exists in Asia, USA and Netherlands. A floating home is  a structure similar to land houses permanently attached to a dock. Houses can be built such that it rises under flood situations while it remains normal during non-flood times. To ensure that the homes are sturdy and resilient, researchers have advised that the foundation of  these  houses are made of water tight concrete and stone with a column-and-sleeve- unit for restraint. Well built floating homes survive floods.  For instance, a community built on river Maas in Netherlands in 2005 survived a flooding  in 2011. 
Concerns around amenities are addressed because sewage facilities  and utilities can be provided onshore. 
Floating home kitchen. Credit:

The benefits of transforming the slum into a floating community include:

  • Its affordability: After WW1 and till date, floating homes are popular in the United States. 
  • The human dignity of residents will be restored: they will have access to social amenities and no longer have to bath or defecate in public.
  • For the aesthics-driven government, a row of well built houses like below on the Atlantic speaks to its “progressiveness” and “meganess

Can Lagos State think of transforming Makoko to this?

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