This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No Room for Slums

Nigeria is a country with a lot of natural resources (especially petroleum, of course) and a lot of people. This week's Economist reckons that Lagos alone has an economy larger than all of Kenya's. Money attracts people and so Lagos has now outgrown its most famous slum--Makoko. Lagos is located right on the Gulf of Guinea, and the city surrounds much of the Lagos Lagoon. Thus, it is essentially built on a swamp and good land is at a premium. Makoko has become prime real estate that the city wants to turn into something besides a slum.
A quarter of a million people live in Makoko, learn to swim before they have walked on land, go to school, buy goods from traders drifting down the main channels, build fishing boats and go to sea. A few narrow bridges connect elevated platforms anchored, like everything else, six feet below the waterline. They say the only thing you won’t find in Makoko is a grave.
Will razing this huge slum help the situation? The city government hopes that this can be part of a huge effort to change the city and its image, since they project that Lagos could eventually be the largest city in the world.
Lagos has long been a byword for urban chaos. Traffic is legendarily bad, crime is a perennial sore and public services reach few. 
Even if change does occur, however, most American citizens are unlikely to witness it in person, since the US State Department discourages Americans from traveling there on any but essential business.

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