Impacts of sea level rise in urban areas in Africa: the case of Lagos

Repeatedly facing grave disasters © Heinrich-Boll-Stiftung CC BY-SA 2.0


With a total population of around 10 million inhabitants, Lagos has very inadequate provision for basic infrastructure to cope with flooding. ‘Normal’ rainfall brings flooding to many areas of the city, largely as a result of the inadequate provision of sewers, drains and wastewater management. Any increase in the intensity of storms and storm surges is likely to increase such problems; much of the land in and around Lagos is less than 2 metres above sea level. In many areas, roads have been built without complementary gutters for rainwater. Where a drainage system exists, it is often not properly constructed and maintained.

The lack of solid waste collection compounds the problem as waste blocks gutters and drains. In addition, many buildings have been erected in ways that block storm-water routes. Little attention is given to clearing the drains in advance of periods of the year when rain is expected. Many low-income settlements are built in areas at high risk of flooding (many on stilts), largely because safer sites are too expensive. Further increases in sea level rise from climate change is likely to only exacerbate the magnitude and frequency of this problem.

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