Climate change: Lagos, the most populous city on the African coast that refuses to sink
Exploring the busy streets of Lagos, Nigeria, is truly a challenge. But during the rainy season, the city streets are almost impassable.
Home to more than 24 million people, Lagos is Nigeria’s economic powerhouse, making it a destination for people looking for new opportunities.
But that rapid growth creates environmental challenges.
Nigeria’s roads are frequently submerged, in part because of a malfunctioning sewage system of 6,000–10,000 tonnes per day.
After heavy rains, trash accumulates in open gutters and makes movement on the streets difficult.
“I worry when it rains, especially when it rains a lot,” said Stephanie Erigha, a resident of Lagos.
“It worries me.”
He recalls taking a taxi on one occasion through a part of the city that was prone to standing water. The water enters and flows right into the back seat.
Although the climate in Lagos is expected to experience less rainfall due to climate change, the intensity of rain is expected to increase, which carries a greater risk of flooding.
Meanwhile, cities that are located in the lowlands are also very vulnerable to water from other sources, namely: rising sea levels.
If global warming exceeds 2 degrees Celsius, the city is expected to experience a sea level rise of 90 cm by 2100, according to research led by marine physicist Svetlana Jevrejeva of the UK’s National Oceanographic Center.
So, how will Africa’s most populous city adapt to flooding, inundated roads and rising sea levels?
There is one area in Lagos that has experience with tide.
Most of the Makoko area is not built on land, but instead stands on stilts above the water surface.
Makoko, known as “Venice in Africa”, is a maze-like slum built on stilts and navigated by canoe.
Although access to electricity and clean sanitation in this slum area is very minimal, this place is an innovation, such as the Makoko Floating School.
The Makoko Floating School is a building that rests on empty plastic barrels that support buoyancy.
This building is in the shape of a pyramid which helps lower its center of gravity so that it becomes more stable. In addition, the sloping roof forms an ideal roof form for heavy rain.
Unfortunately, this prototype was short-lived as it was permanently damaged after being hit by a storm in 2016.
After all, it’s an example of the floating system that the architect who built this building, Kunlé Adeyemi, will use in other coastal cities.
Similar floating structures have been built in Venice, Italy and Bruges, Belgium.
Recently, a similar design is being built in the city of Mindelo on the island of São Vicente, Cape Verde.
“This is a floating music center,” said Adeyemi, founder of NLÉ, an urban design and development consultancy.
“We built it in a bay in the Atlantic Ocean.”
The building is made of wood and consists of three floating ships that house a multipurpose performance hall, a state-of-the-art recording studio and a platform for relaxing.
Wood, said Adeyemi, is an ideal sustainable material for building floating structures.
This floating music center is part of the NLÉ African Water City project, which seeks to find new ways for coastal communities to adapt to rising sea levels.
Instead of fighting water, says Adeyemi, they want to learn to live with it