Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Community (MIWC) is one of the largest low-income communities in the metropolitan area of Lagos. It is a community that enjoys frontage to the Lagos Lagoon and rich history in aquatic trading and harmonious relationship with all the neighboring communities. It comprises of settlements on land and lagoon with diverse population of Egun, Ilaje, Ijaw and Yoruba extractions. Its economic structure revolves around the use of water predominantly for fishing, wood logging and boat making.
In the recent past, the community has been at the brink of extermination by both natural and man-made forces. Justifying its intervention in the community in July 2012 after the protest by residents of the community, the Lagos State Government outlined various factors which were;
Expansion of settlements beyond Power Pylon
Settlements blocking in-flow of storm water from different parts of Lagos into the lagoon
Slum Settlement without specific building addresses
Lack of building permits and Certificate of Occupancy on the land
Waste management problem
A community of illegal immigrants from West African countries
Rising in defense of their community, the residents with support from the Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) maintained that their progenitors have established the settlement since about 1890s. The self-help settlement has developed to its current level without any support or positive intervention from the government. The community argued that the expansion of the community shows the extent of housing deficit in Lagos while their homes are well-known to political office holders during election campaigns. Lastly, they advised the government to identify illegal immigrants and treat them in accordance with relevant ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons, residence and establishment
Groundwork for the Regeneration Plan
During the heat of the argument on the legitimacy of government’s July 2012 intervention, members of the community reached out to the Executive Governor of Lagos State on their intent to develop a regeneration plan for the community. The request was granted by the Governor. The community in collaboration with SERAC mandated the Urban Spaces Innovation (USI) to lead the preparation of the plan. As parts of measures to preparing the plan, the community, SERAC and USI constituted a working group consisting of professionals (academia and practitioners) from diverse background in land, housing, environment, urban development, social and economic empowerment and development finance. Also included are representatives from different sections of the community.
Preparing the Regeneration Plan
The working group on the regeneration plan was guided by certain terms of reference among which were
(i) To develop infrastructure roadmap, housing and neighborhood regeneration plans showing the scale, nature and manner of the future infrastructure development in the communities and harmony of the proposed housing structure with the renewed neighborhood.
(iii) To develop a Makoko Tourism Plan that will serve as a tourism development and management guide and Makoko Economic Development Strategy (MEDS) that will expose economic challenges, potentials, opportunities, peculiarities and transformation approach for Makoko community.
(iv) To harmonize all development plans into Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Regeneration Plan (MIWRP) with a view to providing a comprehensive proposal on housing upgrading, infrastructure delivery, tourism prospects and overall community renewal projections.
(vi) To propose a realistic land and littoral titling framework at providing Makoko residents’ with greater security of tenure and for possible adoption by the Lagos State Lands Bureau.
On setting to work, the group explored the complexity of blighted housing, lack of infrastructure, environmental risk, unemployment, and tenure security and was able to outlined the issues at stake for the community.
What are the Stakes?
The working group formulated the following issues to changing the status of the community from risk to resilience;
(a) Saving over 40, 000 residents from becoming homeless.
(b) Preventing recycling of poverty through forced evictions which some governments of Sub Saharan Africa states misconstrued as progress and development.
(c) Removing the name of Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront from the list of slum communities in Lagos
(d) Ensuring the retainership of the regenerated community by the current residents which is alien to urban development process in Lagos.
(e) Ensuring security of tenure for residents of the community.
(f) Transforming the community into world tourism destination while preserving its ancestral culture.
(g) Transforming the community into a vibrant and prosperous social and economic model within the larger metropolitan Lagos.
The working group obtained and analyzed various political and economic thoughts that continue to threaten or support the existence of the community. Four schools of thought were identified as follows;
(a) That the community should no longer exist because the location is not sustainable. The group could not ascribed in-depth meaning to the use of word “sustainable” by the proponents. However, the group recognized that same word has been used as justification for forced evictions and displacement of households in similar communities in Lagos.
(b) That the community should be evicted to pave way for entertainment and recreation use. The group viewed this as a strategy where entertainment of few privileges takes priority over the welfare of the citizens.
(c) That the upgrading of the entire community should be embarked upon to preserve the culture of the residents. The group concluded that this is a case where deprivation and poverty have been translated to mean culture, way of life and closed society
(d) That redevelopment should be accorded priority on land and upgrading of settlement on lagoon. The group was in support of this thought since the residents of Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront deserve nothing less than dignified, adequate and comfortable housing and livable environment.
One critical aspect that will see to the success of the preparation and implementation of the regeneration plan is the engagement of relevant stakeholders, especially the people of Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront. The working group engaged broadly with various interest groups in the community. They included religious, social, women, youth, and community based formal and non-formal institutions.
In addition, state actors, private sector, nongovernmental organizations and members of the public were engaged as part of aggregating wider perspectives on the plan, before submission to the government.
Components of the Regeneration Plan
Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Regeneration Plan responded to the outlined development challenges and other deficits not mentioned by the Government. The overall responses are capable of building the resilience of the city of Lagos.
Some of the challenges highlighted and the responses are outlined as follows;
Expansion beyond power pylon — Minimum setback of 100m from the pylon
Blocking of storm water from different parts of Lagos — Provision of new drains and expansion of waterways
Slum settlement without specific building addresses — New housing units on land and upgrading of settlements on lagoon
Security Risk — Low risk and less short-term priority for the Community
Lack of building permits and Certificate of Occupancy — Clear building permit procedure and new land tenure framework
Waste management problem — Regular sanitation exercise (every last Tuesday of the month) and waste to energy program
A community of many illegal immigrants from West African countries — Integrate and support the migrants to live a purposeful life in a city that is the economic hub of West Africa.
Other provisions include the establishment of Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Development Association and building of alliances with other stakeholders, increase number of individuals with life skills and entrepreneurial abilities, establishment of Research Center on Climate Change and Water Resources, Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Environmental Protection Fund, community-led committee on security and safety under the Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Development Association.
Benefits of the Regeneration Plan
The Regeneration Plan presents a new master plan for the Makoko/Iwaya waterfront area which is in harmony with the existing government strategies such as the Mainland Central Model City Plan, while still addressing the concerns of the residents.
It outlines solutions to some practical problems facing the community such as a new tenure ship framework and a socio-economically integrated waste management strategy. It provides innovative answers which target multiple challenges simultaneously such as energy generated from biogas, sustainable upgrades to improve the quality of housing and tourism opportunities.
The Regeneration Plan also opens up new avenues for development such as a new hotel, market driven housing, low-income housing, specialized health facility, research center on climate change and water resources, floating market, guest houses on lagoon and water transportation scheme.
The plan presents an alternative way forward for the Makoko/Iwaya waterfront community, with the potential to make Makoko a world-class tourist destination offering a unique experience of water front life. Most importantly the plan embodies the voice of the people of the community.
If adopted and implemented by the Lagos State Government, the plan has tremendous potentials of increasing the resilience of Lagos city to climate risks challenges, expand the framework for land accessibility in the low-income communities in the State, improve the livability index of Lagos among world cities, further reduce the poverty level and bridge the inequality gap, advance the status of Lagos as a major destination for tourists in Sub Saharan Africa and promote the platform for engagement between the government and the governed, especially the low-income groups.
In the process of preparing the regeneration plan, one major finding is lack of institutional responsibility to the community. There are multiple institutions such as National Inland Waterways Authority, Lagos State Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Lagos State Ministry of Housing, Lagos Mainland Local Government and Yaba Local Council Development Area with direct mandate towards Makoko, but none is responsible for its development. This scenario has taken good governance beyond the reach of the community and clouded the potentials and opportunities abound in the community. The same circumstance is applicable to other low-income communities in the city.
In Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Community lie the enormous wealth that can transform the life of residents, yet the incidence of poverty has evidently overwhelmed the potentials of the dwellers while policy makers appears to be severely challenged on engagement, participatory and collaborative procedure towards exploring and enjoying the benefits. Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Regeneration Plan provides the roadmap to ensuring sustainable, resilience and livable Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront.
Partners in the Regeneration Plan
Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Community
Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), Lagos
Urban Spaces Innovation (USI), Lagos
Heinrich Boll Stiftung, Lagos, Nigeria
Fabulous Urban, Geneva, Switzerland www.fabulousurban.com
Advanced Design and Planning Services Limited, Lagos
Center for Understanding Sustainable Practice, Robert Gordon University, Schoolhill, Aberdeen, Scotland
Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos
Department of Architecture, University of Lagos
The plan was selected as one of the 20 semi-finalists out of over 450 entries in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. It is now among the seven finalists for the same competition http://bfi.org/dymaxion-forum/2014/08/semi-finalists-announced-2014-fuller-challenge