Lagos, Nigeria continues to grow in population density and urbanization. The city currently stands as the 14th largest urban area in the world and is on the cusp of becoming a primary coastal megalopolis. Lagos urban area is home to approximately 33% of the Lagos State population (Sunday and Ajewole 2006). Urban development in Lagos is taking place by conversion of coastal wetlands into urbanized communities which is a direct result of urban sprawl. If the rate of growth of urbanization continues, the community will be forced to confront impacts on soil erosion, biodiversity, infrastructure demands, polarized demographics, and public health.
Urbanization in Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos experienced an influx of over 7 million people from 1990 to 2004.In 1990 population was 7.74 million, which increased to 13.4 million in 2000, and in 2004 population reached up to 15 million. With an urban area population of an estimated 11.7 million, Lagos is the 14th largest urban area in the world. By 2010, the population is projected to surpass 20 million (Adelekan 2006).
From 2006-2008, the annual projected growth rate stood at 4.44%, which had a ranking of the 7th fastest growing urban area in the world (City Mayors 2009).
Lagos has grown spatially from a traditional core settlement of about 3.85 sq km in 1881 to a metropolis of over 1,183 sq km.The metropolitan area constitutes about 33% of Lagos State, with 455 sq km (Sunday and Ajewole 2006).
When exploring Lagos' importance in Nigeria's national economy, sixty percent of Nigeria's oil industry occurs in Lagos. (Adelekan 2006, 6).With regards to the shipping industry, 80 percent of Nigeria's imports and 70 percent of exports pass through Lagos ports (City Data 2009).
Conversion from rural to urban area accounts for approximately 75% of population growth of Lagos' metropolitan area (Sunday and Ajewole 2006).
Between 1986 and 2002 the developed area in Lagos Coastal Area increased by 13% (from 43% in 1986 to 56% in 2002), while swampland decreased by 11% and water area decreased by 3% (Sunday and Ajewole 2006).
According to a World Bank Renewal Project, since 1981, the total estimated number of 'blighted-slum' communities has grown from 42 to almost 100, due to a lack of social services and housing development projects (Adelekan 2006).
Urban development in Lagos without conservation strategies has the potential to increase the risk of wetland loss (e.g. creeks, swamps, and lagoons).At the current rate of conversion, the swamps of Lagos will be totally consumed within next 40 years (Sunday and Ajewole 2006).
Soil degradation will alter biogeochemical processes, such as rates of erosion, hydrological flows, and net primary production.Alteration of any of these processes could impact vegetation growth, drinking water quality, and infrastructure sustainability.
Careless urbanization will lead to a biodiversity loss of coastal vegetation and the fish population.An unsustainable fish market would hinder the national the economy as well as international trade.
Alteration of the ecosystem will influence insect habitat and their migration patterns, subsequently increasing the risk of infectious human diseases (Sunday and Ajewole 2006).
Upcoming land use plans must be framed by firm wetland conservation strategies that discourage the disturbance of swamp habitat.Additional research must be performed to forecast the health and life expectancy of the Lagos wetlands.
Future land use plans must take into account potential impacts on the transportation of natural resources as well foreign trade products.
Sound, practical waste management regulations would decrease the rate and severity of waterway pollution, as well as the risk of exposure to toxic chemicals in drinking water and stormwater drainage.
Smart growth would prove economically beneficial to the food market, tourism, resource consumption, and wealth diversity/equity.
Mixed-income housing in urban areas would strive to improve city-wide quality of life.The implementation of equal-access housing markets, educational resources, and employment services would decrease the occupancy of low-income, informal living standards that currently have negative impacts on water quality, public health, and biodiversity.
City Mayor's: Running the World's Cities. The world's fastest growing cities and urban areas from 2006 to 2020: http://www.citymayors.com/statistics/urban_growth1.html (Last accessed on 22 Oct 2009)
City Data.com. http://www.city-data.com/world-cities/Lagos.html (Last accessed on 10 Nov 2009)
Sunday, O. and A. Ajewole, 2006. Implications of the Changing Pattern of Land cover of the Lagos Coastal Area of Nigerian. American-Eurasian Journal of Scientific Research 1 (1):31-37. IDOSI Publications. www.idosi.org/aejsr/1(1)06/7.pdf (Last accessed on 13 November 2009)
Braimoha, A. and T. Onishib. 2006. Spatial determinants of urban land use change in Lagos, Nigeria. Land Use Policy. 24 (2007) 502-515.
Adelekan, Ph.D., I. Vulnerability of Poor Urban Coastal Communities to Climate Change in Lagos, Nigeria, Department of Geography University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, Fifth Urban Research Symposium. 2009