FEATURE REPORT/ ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Makoko, the city on stilts, gingerly floats atop the Lagos lagoon. It first came to exist as a fishermen’s village, but as people started migrating to Lagos through the years and settling around the village, Makoko turned into an ever expanding informal settlement. Today the population is estimated to range from 40,000 to 3,00,000 with about 2000 people entering Lagos everyday.
The slum is not something that can be missed. It sits there in plain view for everyone to see, right beneath the most travelled bridge of Lagos. This quite naturally makes the settlement an embarrassment to the government, an embarrassment that would need to be removed in the quickest way possible. In 2012, after a 72 hour notice of eviction to the residents, the government began demolishing the stilted structures. This came to a stop only after the death of a resident. But many such demolition attempts have been made since, making forced evictions a normal event. Apart from this, with land becoming scarce, property developers have also been eyeing Makoko to exploit its waters.
The people of Makoko have come to live atop these waters in search of a home. These homes have organically grown under the pulse of the people. People who trade, shop, interact and perform all their daily activities right there, above the water.
Now, this expanding community is being squashed between the repressive government and property developers.
Read the whole piece here
Published by The Guardian.
ONLINE PUBLICATION OF THE WEEK
‘The Informal City Reader’
Published by NextCity
What do we do about this epidemic called the slum? How can we redevelop this hapless segment of the society? How do we fix this problem – for clearly it is a problem – that needs fixing. Everyone wants to help and everyone (seemingly) has the slum dwellers’ best interest at heart. The government is never short of redevelopment schemes, revised policies or 72 hour eviction plots. The bottom line is, this is a mess that needs cleaning up.
What if we turn this on its head. Let’s for a minute assume the problem is not these haphazard settlements, but the other way round. Let’s assume the problem is the policy makers, property developers and people who live in the accounted section of the cities and think the unaccounted ones are the problem.
If we pull down the veil of poor sanitation, absence of basic amenities and the general squalor – we see real people living there. People who have adapted and lived in a manner that is only natural to them.
These informal settlements have sprouted and evolved organically around the habits and daily needs of the residents and no amount of researched and conscious planning can give us that. While these fringe settlements do need aid and support, obliterating the existing built and unbuilt that has stood the test of time, is not the solution. We can not forget who the key stakeholders are and what it is that they want.
The Informal City Reader, by the online magazine Next City, follows the lives of informal settlers from six cities – Accra, Bangkok, Chennai, Lima, Manila and Nairobi – with a peek at their daily struggles and the many lessons of resilience they have to give.
Read the publication here.
VIDEO/ PODCAST OF THE WEEK
‘Mapping the Slums’
Created by TedxGateway
A large chunk of the world population lives in slums today. By 2020 the number of slum dwellers are expected to touch 889 million. Yet, most of these slums are off the map.
Erica Hagen, of GroundTruth Initiative, talks about online mapping for slums and the importance of it with Map Kibera project as an example.