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๐ŸšจLagos, the Economic Hub of Nigeria and Africa's Most Populous City is Sinking!

Lagos, the bustling economic hub of Nigeria and Africa's most populous city is facing a dire threat - it is sinking and could be rendered uninhabitable by the end of this century. This alarming phenomenon is a consequence of climate change and rising sea levels, which have caused devastating floods and erosion along the city's coastline. As Lagos grapples with the challenges posed by urban development, population growth, and environmental preservation, urgent action is needed to address the impacts of climate change and safeguard the city's future. Global sea levels have beenย predictedย to rise more than 6 feet (2 meters) by the end of this century. This leaves Lagos, which expertsย sayย is less than two meters above the sea, in a precarious state, given that a chunk of Nigeria's coastline is low-lying. In recent years, Lagos has experienced devastating floods, causing significant damage to infrastructure and displacing millions of people.
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Lagos, with its population of over 24 million people, is no stranger to flooding. The city experiences yearly floods between the months of March and November, but the frequency and severity of these floods have been escalating in recent years. In mid-July 2022, Lagos Island, the city's major business district, witnessed one of its worst floods in recent history. The floodwaters submerged cars, houses, and disrupted economic activities, estimated to cost around $4 billion annually.
The underlying causes of these floods are multifaceted. Inadequate and poorly maintained drainage systems, uncontrolled urban growth, and the eroding coastline exacerbate the problem. Lagos is situated on the mainland and a string of islands, making it highly susceptible to coastal erosion and tidal surges. Sand mining for construction has also contributed to shoreline erosion, further compromising the city's resilience to flooding.
Scientific projections suggest that Lagos, with its low elevation and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, may become uninhabitable by the end of the century. The rising sea levels caused by global warming are gradually eroding the coastline, posing a significant threat to coastal communities.
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The island of Lagos is particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon. The riverbank of Lagos' Victoria Island is already being washed away, with the water level eating into the land. Efforts to address this issue include the construction of Eko Atlantic, an entirely new coastal city built on reclaimed land, protected by an 8-kilometer-long wall made of concrete blocks. However, concerns have been raised about the potential impact on adjacent areas that are not protected by the wall, leaving them vulnerable to tidal surges.
The consequences of inaction in the face of climate change are dire for Lagos. It is estimated that by 2100, areas currently home to 200 million people could fall permanently below the high tide line. Lagos, with its elevation of less than two meters above sea level, is at high risk. A sea-level rise of just 3 to 9 feet (about 1 to 3 meters) could have catastrophic effects on the city and its coastal environments.
The "Great Wall of Lagos" is intended to reinforce the coast and protect it from erosion
The "Great Wall of Lagos" is intended to reinforce the coast and protect it from erosion
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To address these challenges, Lagos State developed a climate action plan in 2018, with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan recognizes the need for collaboration with professionals, organizations, and the global community to enhance resilience and prioritize climate action. However, the effectiveness of such plans depends not only on financial resources but also on political will and the involvement of local communities.
The rapid urbanization and unchecked growth of Lagos have exacerbated its vulnerability to climate change. The city's population explosion and the expanding metropolitan area have placed immense pressure on land resources and infrastructure. The government of Lagos State has recognized the need for strategic reforms in land management and urban planning to address these challenges effectively.
One key aspect of this reform is the recognition of land rights and the involvement of local communities, particularly Indigenous and forest-dependent peoples, in decision-making processes. Ensuring secure land tenure and protecting the rights of these communities is crucial for sustainable forest conservation and climate resilience. The LEAF Coalition, a new initiative mobilizing funds to protect tropical forests, must prioritize the recognition of Indigenous land rights and the active involvement of forest-dependent communities.
Engaging with local communities is essential for the success of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in Lagos. These communities possess valuable knowledge and traditional practices that can contribute to sustainable land management and resilience-building. It is crucial to empower these communities by involving them in the design and implementation of climate action initiatives. This includes ensuring fair resource distribution and the protection of their rights.
An artist's impression of coastal communities based in floating architecture, to allow them to become more resilient to climate change (Credit: NLE)
An artist's impression of coastal communities based in floating architecture, to allow them to become more resilient to climate change (Credit: NLE)
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However, power imbalances and inadequate recognition of land rights pose significant challenges. In the past, afforestation programs and carbon finance initiatives have often disregarded the rights of Indigenous and forest-dependent peoples, leading to land grabs and conflicts. To avoid repeating these mistakes, the LEAF Coalition must prioritize the recognition of land rights, promote effective stakeholder participation, and ensure that the flow of funds benefits local communities.
Effective governance and accountability are vital for addressing the challenges posed by climate change in Lagos. The government, in collaboration with international partners, must establish robust environmental regulations and oversight mechanisms to monitor the success and failures of climate action initiatives. Transparent and accountable governance ensures that resources are allocated equitably, and the interests of local communities are safeguarded.
Furthermore, strong political will is necessary to challenge existing power dynamics and promote sustainable development. This includes addressing issues of corruption, strengthening institutions, and fostering partnerships between the public and private sectors. By prioritizing good governance, Lagos can create an enabling environment for climate change mitigation and adaptation, ensuring a sustainable and resilient future for its residents.
The challenges faced by Lagos in the face of climate change are immense, but they are not insurmountable. Urgent action is needed to address the vulnerability of the city to rising sea levels, flooding, and erosion. This requires a collaborative approach involving governments, communities, corporations, and international organizations. By recognizing land rights, empowering local communities, and prioritizing good governance, Lagos can navigate the complex landscape of climate change and build a resilient and sustainable future.
The time for action is now. Lagos must seize the opportunity to lead the way in climate change adaptation and mitigation, setting an example for other cities facing similar challenges. With the right strategies and collective efforts, Lagos can defy the odds and thrive in the face of adversity. Let us join forces and work towards a future where Lagos remains a vibrant and resilient city for generations to come.
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  • CHRIS NGATIA

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    38 w

    A great masterpiece

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    • Kevin

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      44 w

      A well written piece

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      • Jacquelyn Omotalade

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        44 w

        Eko - my beautiful beautiful homeland

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        • Moses Muller Njue

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          44 w

          This highlights the need for immediate action around the world before more coastal cities are affected.

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          • Sarah Chabane

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            44 w

            Very worrying! Thank you for highlighting this issue

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            • bonke reinhard

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              44 w

              Such issues should be taken with a serious action

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              • Markus Lutteman

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                44 w

                Wow. A scary, but very important story.

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                • Ochekwu Francis

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                  44 w

                  This matter is serious, sincerely the measures are slow

                  4
                  Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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