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Monday, March 27, 2023

My Climate Story: Lagos and the Climate Crisis

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This was submitted as part of the Module 2 Learning Exercise during the Climate Reality Leadership Training | August 2020

Victor Oluwapelumi, Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria, the surprising Lagos, is the most populous city in Africa with 24 million people looking for a space in a less than 2,000 km2 area. Lagos is bounded on the west by the Republic of Benin, to the north and east by Ogun State, Nigeria, with the Atlantic Ocean providing a coastline on the south. Lagos is simply a collection of islands surrounded by creeks, and a stretch of loosely connected barrier islands and sand spits. So Lagos bursts with opportunities that has made Nigeria’s economy the largest in Africa.

Yet, in the midst of the opportunities are the collateral dangers. Lagos with its coastal area location, urbanisation and its poor infrastructural planning, the grave consumption pattern of the populace, anthropogenic activities, inefficient waste management and weak environmental policies portend grave dangers to the climate reality. With the global climate change resulting in change in weather pattern, heavy storms, incessant rainfalls, tidal and co-tidal influences, we are looking at what may be a climate-bomb scenario.

Photo by Sumner Shagari Sambo

Every flooding come with its devastations – blocked drainage channels, flooded canals, destruction of properties, traffic gridlocks, spreading of diseases and at times, death. It is a common sight to see submerged buildings and a sea of PEP bottles and disposable plastic take-away packs and styrofoams littering the streets after rainfalls. If you live in Lagos the dreadful time is usually the rainy season. School children may not be able to go to school, workers may be forced to stay home and businesses may not be opened, unless they are ready to wade their way through the flood and the wastes covering their streets.

As I look at the scenario in Lagos, it becomes clear to me that we have a crisis at hand. As the city expands, and with the poor waste management system and infrastructural planning, it also increasingly become clear to me that we must ACT and that time is NOW. However, it is exciting to see the frantic efforts the government is making to mitigate the effect of climate change as well as the commitment of some waste recycling social enterprises like WeCyclers and RecyclePoints, who give value for wastes generated. The emergence of these recyclers has given rise to other recycling movements collecting wastes right from the consumers before they get to the dump-site.

Photo by Adeyinka Yusuf-Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

This commitment to the environment ignited my interest in Climate Change and that was part of what primarily led to the formation of the Free Web for SDGs initiative, where we develop free websites for initiatives fostering the Sustainable Development Goals and take their messages to the whole world and our communities. This is the reason why I am also here for the Climate Reality Leadership Training. As we engage ourselves and collectively get committed to the climate crisis fight, we will turn the tide and make the difference in our generation.

Cover Photo: George Esiri (EPA)

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