STAKEHOLDERS’ RESILIENCE DURING COVID 19 IN LAGOS-OGUN PERIPHERY
Funmilayo Mokunfayo Adedire
Senior lecturer, Department of Architecture, Lead City University, Ibadan
The abrupt disruption of Covid-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of African cities’ periphery. In response to the urbanisation demand in global prime cities, of which Lagos is one, dual land uses exist in the urban periphery, where the hinterland spontaneously converted to informal settlements to cater for the needs of the low-income, middle income and the wealthy[i].
Continuous informal land conversion outside African cities’ boundaries with diverse land uses have lead to ecological disturbances and spatial chaos. Most developments in the urban periphery of the Global South, especially Africa, have been subjected to spatial distortion in its urban morphology. These transformations are ecologically irresponsible[ii].
Salat and Bourdic write that the functionality of an urban system lies in its ability to absorb, adapt or transform when internal and external stresses and strains are exerted[iii]. When cities undergo disruptions, it affects their sustainability. Due to self-organisation, poor planning and delayed interventions, the ability for elements of urban system to go through internal invention after gradual or sudden disturbances is lacking in most African peripheries[iv].
Resilience frameworks expose the strength and weaknesses of urban system in the face of disturbances. Resilience, the management of alteration to land use and measures to mitigate the impact of the alterations on the social, economic and biophysical properties of an urban system is lacking in Lagos-Ogun periphery settlements.
One of the challenges of major cities’ peripheries is that resilience is not embraced early in planning because it involves uncertainty. In most peripheral settlements, especially where urban governance does not incorporate rural development, a lack of integration of nature into the urban design impacts on resilience during natural disasters. This differs from more central areas where relatively more planning interventions are made in response to urban stresses.
Some peculiarities of the peri-urban interface include wasteful land use, pollution from dumping of waste and harmful substances from cities and dependence on cities for informal services[v]. The interface is constantly changing its form and functionality and the interface will continuously be subjected to external shocks.
Stakeholders’ Resilience during Covid 19 in Lagos-Ogun Periphery
This blog builds on my broader study of comparative evaluation of urban systems’ resilience in Lagos megacity periphery communities. Using on site observation as the research method, the study looks at Magboro, a purposively selected periphery settlement along Lagos-Ibadan urban corridor. It is geographically located in Obafemi-Owode LGA in Lagos Mega-city periphery. It was selected because it epitomises the collapse stage of resilience adaptive cycle. Magboro has gone through a rapid, unsustainable and brutal spatial transition within the past 20 years. Responses to public health and improvements in quality of life have been achieved through community resilience due to the lack of local and state government intervention in sustainable development of the periphery. This blog looks at stakeholders’ responses to external disturbances associated with Covid 19 pandemic in Magboro.
Peri-urban settlements in Lagos mega-city have been experiencing spontaneous physical transformation for many years. However, the resilience of these emerging settlements is low. The lack of resilience is mainly caused by the inflexibility in these areas in terms of existing buildings and infrastructure. The location of these settlements has direct impact on development because of regulatory practice, technical and social constraints. My observations show that the disruptions to the biophysical system act as the catalyst for uncontrollable flooding in Lagos peripheries, and this is worsened by neglect of drainages, blockages of major watercourses due to dumping of wastes. The environmental hazard created poses a threat to public health in the periphery. There is therefore need to understand the weaknesses as these settlements emerge to know the intervention needed to enhance their adaptive capacities and also to avoid collapse. My observations show that the disruptions to the biophysical system act as the catalyst for uncontrollable flooding in Lagos peripheries, corroborating earlier findings by Jiménez and others 2020[vi].
The ongoing Covid 19 pandemic is tearing apart the fragile urban fabric of periphery settlements in Lagos-Ogun corridor. For instance, the lockdown brought about a series of burglar attacks on the middle class peripheral communities, leading to lack of security of lives and properties, informal services were prohibited leading to poor environmental management. Straddling two locked-down States of Lagos and Ogun, ravaged by ecological degradation due to heavy seasonal rain, blocked drainages due to continuous dumping of indecomposable waste, barred access to informal waste management services, the unexpected disturbance presented an unprecedented opportunity to assess stakeholders’ resilience in the periphery.
Resilience of cities comes down to people, the major actors in resilience management. The strength of communities are tested during developmental challenges. During the pandemic, the communities made ad-hoc arrangements for security of lives and properties, for instance by mobilising household heads to keep night watch on street intersections. As in other cities’ peripheries, despite enhanced community resilience by collective participation of individuals in these peripheral settlements during the Covid 19 lockdown, institutional organisations responses to calls for dealing with environmental challenges like waste disposal, clearing of blocked water bodies and provision of basic health services was poor. The residents were left to proffer solutions to mitigating challenges without external help. Some of the participatory efforts at the community level in response to COVID-19 include volunteering by household heads to serve as night watchmen to tackle the robbery attacks, monetary contributions to erect temporary wooden bridges, palliative measures by clearing the blocked drainages along major roads and stabilising the untarred muddy roads with solid bituminous wastes to enhance accessibility. Some of these efforts are shown in the pictures below.
Figure 1: Temporary wooden bridges erected for pedestrians in response to flooding.
With almost a non-existent local governance and state responses to urban challenges in the study area, it is necessary to build a strong connections at the community level. However, institutional responsibilities should not be transferred to people at the grassroots. There is a limit to which they can provide interventions. Instead, there should be operationalisation of balance between organisational resilience and community resilience. In this way, the concerted adaptive capacity of individuals, communities and regions contributes to the overall resilience of an urban system[vii].
Figure 2: Palliative measures to enhance road accessibility in Lagos-Ogun periphery.
Enhancing future resilience in Lagos-Ogun Periphery
Spatial resilience plans require assessing the vulnerabilities of a city and understanding how the internal elements interact to adapt in coping with the uncertainty of the future, thus achieving sustainability. Efficient planning, spatial diversity and responsive governance, which are lacking in Lagos-Ogun periphery, are boosters of urban resilience[viii]. In the study area of Magboro, spatial inflexibility manifests in the form of high informality and there are also developmental constraints due to technical, social and regulatory measures. While informality and slums increase social vulnerability, disruptions provide a window for planning.
In this way, stresses experienced during the pandemic could be a catatlyst for effective interventions in the peri-urban interface. Planning interventions are necessary to minimise the impact of system collapse, and to foster a transition to an adaptive phase of reorganization in achieving a more sustainable and desirable environment. In the absence of strategic management measures, urban systems stand the chance of losing their community-lead resilience.
[i] Adedire, F. M. & Adegbile, M. B. O., 2018. Effects of urbanization on spatial demography change in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos peri-urban settlement. Community Development, 49(3), pp. 292-311.
[ii] Xua, W., Zhong, M., Hong, Y. & Lin, K., 2020. Enhancing community resilience to urban floods with a network structuring model. Safety Science, Volume 127, pp. 1-12.
[iii] Salat, S. & Bourdic, L., 2012. Systemic Resilience of Complex Urban Systems. On Trees and Leaves. TeMA Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 5(2), pp. 55-68
[iv] Potter, K. & Vilcan, T., 2020. Managing urban flood resilience through the English planning system: insights from the ‘SuDSface’.. Phil.Trans.R.Soc., Volume A378.
[v] Chirisa, I., 2010. Peri-Urban Dynamics and Regional Planning in Africa: Implications for Building Healthy Cities. Journal of African Studies & Developent, 2(2), pp 015-126.
[vi] Jiménez, M. et al., 2020. Assessing the historical adaptive cycles of an urban social-ecological system and its potential future resilience: the case of Xochimilco, Mexico City. Regional Environmental Change, 20(7), pp. 1-14.
[vii] Campanella, T., 2006,. Urban Resilience and the Recovery of New Orleans. Journal of the American Planning Association, 72(2), pp. 141-146; and Chelleri, L., Schuetze, T. & Salvati, L., 2015. Integrating resilience with urban sustainability in neglected neighbourhoods: Challenges and opportunities of transitioning to decentralized water management in Mexico City. Habitat International, 48(1), pp. 122-130.
[viii] Nel, D., du Plessis, C. & Landman, K., 2018. Planning for dynamic cities: introducing a framework to understand urban change from a complex adaptive systems approach. International Planning Studies, 23(3), p. 250–263.
No 1 – This blog article is written under the auspices of the British Academy supported Critical Thinking and Writing Workshop for Urban Studies Researchers in Nigeria.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development or the University of Lagos, Nigeria.