By Babatope Babalobi assisted by Njideka Onwunyi
Bread of Life Development Foundation through its eWASH blog is today starting a media advocacy project to draw local and international attention to the deplorable living conditions, particularly poor access to safe water and sanitation services in Makoko (coordinates: Latitude : 6.496. Longitude : 3.388.), a slum in Lagos state, Nigeria.
Tagged ‘Voicing out for Makoko’ we shall through this project be working with members of the community to highlight their WASH challenges, hoping that this will trigger action by service providers, policy formulators, and regulators as well as charity groups.
Makoko is a fishing community situated on the Lagos, lagoon, in Yaba Local Government Area in Lagos State, Nigeria, whose distinguishing feature is that it is built on water- the Lagos lagoon.. For a community whose population are over a million, there are no single public primary or secondary school, no public health centre, and public water supply mains is at a distance.But its population is a guess work as it was never covered by past official population censuses.
Space is a luxury in Makoko The community is hugely congested and overcrowded with up to 20 persons live in ‘houses’ constructed with planks and bamboos floating over the Lagos lagoon.. The children in Makoko do not have to lament over unreliable power supply, nor shout ‘Up NEPA’ when public energy supply is restored by Nigeria’s erratic energy firm that used to be known as ‘NEPA’, an acronym for National Electric Power Corporation because the community is not connected to the National grid. It is enveloped by pit darkness at night.
Suspended on the Lagos lagoon, the water underneath the ramshackle houses, serves as the urinal, toilet, waste dump, foot path, road, swimming pool, playground, drainage, and floating market for the residents leaving the surface water with a thick, black, noxious smell. Moreover, Makoko has no access roads, and being built on water, canoe is the only means of transportation.
Nairobi, Kenya’s capital is globally known for its Kibera slum, and the visibility given to its deplorable condition has resulted in several local and international interventions to develop its infrastructures. Makoko’s sub human and debilitating conditions is perhaps worst than Kibera, yet Government may not be willing to provide services there because of its squatter status and private service providers are not willing to intervene there because it is not profitable.
In Africa’s religious society, the people are therefore left to the mercy of God of which on its messengers- the Redeemed Christian Church of God has played a yeoman’s role in providing WASH services. Bread of Life Development Foundation is hoping that the ‘Voicing out for Makoko’ project will translate to WASH projects by development partners, charities and government bodies that will improve the livelihoods of the residents.
For the next six months, we shall be posting on eWASH real life stories on the harsh realities of life in Makoko, with specific focus on lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene services; and also support the community members to initiative self help projects as well as engage with government duty bearers to ensure provision of safe water and sanitation services.