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Geography Lagos

By leakan May 17, 2013 1385 Words
Lagos is the largest city of Nigeria, and it is known for its corruption, poverty and crime. The rate of urban growth is increasing rapidly mainly due to natural increase and in-migration. In 1959, the population was around 300,000 and increased to 13.4 million in 2004. By 2050, it is predicted that the population of Lagos will reach 24.4 million people, placing it within the top 5 largest cities in the world. Lagos was a British colony from 1862 to 1906, in which the development into a commercial centre takes place and takes advantage of the port for trading since it has a natural harbour. Since then, many people migrated to Lagos for a better living, but it also has the largest slums in the world, such as Mile 12, where it is based on a dump that treats toxic waste.

In Lagos, natural increase is one of the primary influences that affect the rate of urban growth. Natural increase occurs when the birth rate is higher than the death rate causing population numbers to rise. The death rate is falling as a result of improvements in medical facilities and the youthful population structure. The demand for health is growing in Lagos due to the rapid increase in population, but the quality of medical facilities have been improving through vaccinations provided by non-government organisations including Unicef, Unesco and WHO to prevent fatal illnesses for example Malaria and Dysentery. Half of the population in Lagos is under 15 years old, which indicates that Lagos has a youthful population and less people are dying from old age in comparison to the increasing number of people born each year. 88% of childbirth was successful in hospitals and clinics in 1987 since they have improved in healthcare standards, and this caused the infant mortality rate to decrease, ensuring more can survive through births. Birth control is more accessible in the 1990s, reducing the chances of spreading STDs and the risk of dying from the diseases. The improvements in medical care have increased the rate of urban growth as the basic standards are developed, lowering the death rate and extend the life expectancy.

However, despite the better quality of health care, the hospital treatments are no longer free of charge starting from 1988 due to costly fees. This has caused a 30% decline in numbers of outpatients afterwards. Since 1988, health care is based on what people can afford, and the poorer people can only rely on quack doctors for treatment where unreliable drugs are given to them. In Lagos, there are around 10,000 quack doctors who treat people using either traditional cures or harmful drugs. Since the 1990s, the number of unqualified healers and pharmacists has risen to ‘cure’ the poor, as well as contributing to the informal sector and accelerating urban growth because of the increased economic activities whether it is benefiting or putting pressure on the society.

Lagos as a developing city has a high and sustaining birth rate because of heavy cultural influences and lack of education. It is a tradition that a man can marry multiple wives therefore having many children in one family is very common in Lagos. Since the majority of the population are poor, parents have multiple children to help them work for money in order to live, and the more children they have, the less pressure it will be to take care of both parents in their old age. The tradition of Yoruba is that when partners become old, they leave each other to live with their own families. Contraceptives are not available in many parts of Lagos, and there is a lack of education for using them properly so people have no family planning, which results in the creation of large families. Many in-migrants come from rural areas where having many children is their method of dealing with high infant mortality rates to ensure some would survive into adulthood. It takes generations for the concept to subside once they move into an urban area and start to adapt to the new lifestyle. Lagos, with the majority of the population being young people, many can take advantage of their age to produce more children during their lifetime. The high birth rate may cause a rapid rate of urban growth because there are increasing numbers of young people working at the workforce, increasing economic growth and more money can be used to develop the city.

Furthermore, rural-urban migration is another major factor that influences the urban growth rate, and it is based on the push and pull theory or ‘Lee’s model of migration’. Every year approximately 600,000 people migrate to Lagos. The push factors discuss the people moving out of their homes for certain reasons. Lagos has more advanced technology for farming such as the use of tractors and mechanical diggers, which replaces some agricultural workers but makes farming more convenient and uses less effort. Rainfall cannot be relied on in other parts of Nigeria but in Lagos the rainfall is more constant and not as extreme, encouraging the growth of cash crops. There is a lack of government investment in rural areas, hindering the development since it will not provide as much income and benefits compared to urban development. Most of the investment is for improving the infrastructure and reclamation in Lagos. From 1967 to 1969, there was a large-scale in-migration of refugees that were suffering from the Biafran war in East Nigeria to Lagos, as they must find basic supplies to live. As the debt in Nigeria is growing, more land is required to grow cash crops for export to pay for the debt, causing less land for people living in rural areas. In Ogoniland of southern Nigeria is scattered with oil wells and two refineries, affecting nearby farmlands due to severe oil pollution. Villagers move out when a village is completely destroyed from the pollution, some of which have migrated to Lagos.

The pull factors discuss the reasons people are attracted to a place and would decide to move in to. The main reason that attracts people from rural places is the wide range of job opportunities. The informal sector takes up 90% of Lagos’ economy, which drives the economic growth. Also, 70% of the government investment is on the industries in Lagos, improving the facilities and increase output of manufactured goods. Although there are some shantytowns and slums in Lagos, many new government residential housing are built to overcome the crowded and unstable establishments. Moreover, 90% of the people in Lagos have electricity supplies to power lights, in spite of the frequent power cuts. Education is one of the top priorities in Lagos with many opportunities available, and Lagos has the highest adult literacy rates in Nigeria, 94% in males and 97% in females in 1995. Since Lagos’ wages is higher compared to the national average, workers from the rural areas migrate to the city to work for more income to have better standards of living. The doctor to people ratio is the highest in Lagos therefore there are less stresses in medical treatments. Many people were benefited from the free treatment the government hospitals offered during 1979 to 1988, especially the poor people with serious diseases. The pull factors in general would have a positive impact on urban growth because the migrants who move to Lagos to work will bring many advantages to the economy and more people become educated to work for a higher income when they join the workforce. But the increase of migrants will put stress on housing and competition in businesses.

In conclusion, both natural increase and in-migration generally would increase the rate of urban growth, although some factors will cause the growth to slow or stay static. In my opinion, the main factor that can influence urban growth most is in-migration because I believe that natural increase will gradually change over time, but rural-urban migration will still occur in the future. Since nearby African countries are still underdeveloped or developing, Lagos is the main city that allows flexibility to work in the informal sector, and in-migration mostly encourages a rapid urban growth. In-migration in Lagos is the most influential for the rate of urban growth.

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