Makoko; You and Your Environment
A short ten minutes presentation by Tunde Akingbade at the United States Consulate, Nigeria’s celebration of Global Youth Day at Makoko fishing Community, Lagos.
The Consular General
Chairman, Yaba, Local Council Development Area,
Baale and Chiefs of Makoko
All other protocols observed
I am indeed happy that the Consulate has chosen Makoko for this commemoration. Makoko has been in the news on environment related issues and concern as well as sustainable development in the past one year and especially following the demolition exercise that led to public agitation and outcry.
Since my topic focuses on you and your environment, I will focus on the people of Makoko and their relationship with the environmrnt they found themselves since 1800s and how to handle the environment with care. I will try not to go outside the Makoko’s environment.
The Makoko community is both on land and water. This means that the people will be subjected to environmental problems associated with both land and water: that is the lagoon which the people depend on. There is also the air over Makoko which is very important. The quality of air that people breathe in Makoko is very important. So, if the air in or around Makoko is polluted, it will affect living things. Do not forget that pollution has no boundry. The pollution caused in faraway Ikeja industrial area or the Oko Baba Sawmill nearby can affect the environmrnt and human health. The pollution in neighbouring countries can spread here and if the people hear pollute the air terribly, the effect may be felt in neighbouring towns and even Benin Republic depending on the direction of the wind.
Lagos is the home of the about 60 percent of the industries in Nigeria. This means that pollution from these industries will affect the land, the air, the water and people. There are few industries near Makoko.
However the effluents from nearby factories and household move across the Lagoon to Makoko and end in the Atlantic Ocean. When toxic chemicals in some effluents released by some factories into the environment into drainages get into rivers and the Lagoon get here they may remain here for a long time.
However, the fishing activities and attendant smoking is one of the things that foul the air quality over Makoko and exposure of children to the polluted air may affect breathing. There is need to construct proper drainages on land and channels where water can flow easily without causing flooding during the wet season.
The water (lagoon) system in Makoko is no doubt polluted by household wastes and industrial effluent. Many experts have found petroleum hydrocarbon, sawmill wastes and faecal matters(shit) in the Lagos lagoon.
Renowned Ecologist, Professor A.MA Imevbore said in one of his works that urban growth and bad sewage management have been associated with the dwindling in the abundance of fish measured in Lagos. Fishing is the main occupation of Makoko people. The Professor recalled that Calamari in 1985 indicated that 24,000 tons of suspended solid and 1700 tons of biodegradables are discharged into the Lagos Lagoon yearly. There are heavy metals in the water and they have been found in the fishes that were caught here. Series of studies carried out by Professor Kusemiju, Dr. Victor Fodeke, Dr. Mrs. M.T Odubela and other experts at the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) found contaminants in some of the fishes caught and examined in the Lagoon.
There is also the problem of water hyacinth which affects fishing and navigation. The Makoko community cannot afford to allow pollutants to affect their means of livelihood and heath.
What should be done in the Makoko environment?
1. The people should ensure proper management of their household waste. The should have waste bins and link up with Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to cart away the waste rather than dispose inside the lagoon where they can kill fish and reduce their catch. Nylon wastes from the so-called “pure-water-sachets” dumped in the Lagoon can easily kill fishes. LAWMA has a marine unit that is made up of swimmers drawn from marine communities including Makoko. The people should cooperate with them to ensure a polltion free Lagoon.
2. Do not dispose faecal matter into the lagoon. Construct human waste disposal system that does not end up in the Lagoon to kill fishes.
3. The people should carry out sanitation exercise monthly with the Government and observe personal hygiene because cleanliness is next to Godliness.
4. Smoking of fishes should be done with proper ventilation and new improved cooking stoves that do not emit smoke into the atmosphere.
Thanks for your attention.
Tunde akingbade, IVLP (1993) of the United States Consulate is winner
United Nations/Global Price Albert 11 of Monaco Global Prize for climate change reporting.
He won 2012 CNN / Multi choice “Highly Commended Environment Award,”
Lagos State/UNDP Award 2012 for outstanding contribution to environment Journalism in Nigeria, The Environment Person 2008, Artist’s Angel, Vermont Studio Center, USA, 2001, Nigerian Media Merit Award, (NMMA) Journalist of the Year 1992 and other recognitions.