- Poverty Alleviation in Lagos Urban Informal Settlements: A Sustainable Livelihood Approach   click here to open paper content241 kb
by    Olajide, Oluwafemi | oluwafemi.olajide@ncl.ac.uk   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Through the lens of sustainable livelihood framework, this paper examines
the issues of poverty in Lagos’ informal settlements. It explores the
interplay among location, tenure, settlements, policies and livelihoods,
and how they interplay with livelihood vulnerability and access to assets,
and the implications for poverty alleviation strategies.
Lagos, one of the fastest growing cities and urban agglomerations in Africa
is characterized by a high presence of the urban poor who are mostly
accommodated in informal settlements, with a growing multi-dimensional
poverty profile. In Nigeria, various poverty alleviation programmes and
strategies have been lunched and implemented by both Federal and state
governments, including Lagos state. It is evident, based on the current
trends of poverty and incidence of informal settlements that the strategies
have achieved little or no success. As noted by various researchers and
urban analysts, poverty alleviation strategies have been marked with
limited success in Nigeria, just like many other African countries, because
poverty and poverty alleviation strategies have been narrowly conceived to
mean lack of income and economic growth. Since 2006, despite the fact that
it relevance has been questioned internationally and nationally, there has
been a renewed effort to improve the living conditions and alleviate
poverty of informal settlements dwellers (urban poor) in Lagos through land
regularisation which is expected to grant formal title to every land owner
within informal settlements and uncommitted government land. On the one
hand, this strategy is employed against the backdrop that it will
facilitate access to official credit and markets, promote individuals’
investment in housing, and lead to poverty alleviation. And on the other
hand, to get rid of slum through eviction and demolition of squatter
settlements on committed public land

This paper however argues that urban poor in Lagos are faced with many
vulnerabilities and deprivations, which go beyond land title and tenure
insecurity. Therefore, understanding these various dimensions of
vulnerabilities and deprivations are important to evolving a holistic and
sustainable policy framework for poverty reduction. This argument is in
line with the current global thinking that policy framework for poverty
alleviation can no longer ignore inclusive strategy, which simultaneously
takes into consideration poverty in all its dimensions as well as
aspirations and needs of the poor.

Against this background, through the lens of sustainable livelihood
framework, the current study examines the issues of poverty in informal
settlements. It uses four informal settlements, across Lagos, to explore
the interplay among location, tenure, settlements, policies and
livelihoods, and the implications for poverty alleviation strategies. The
need to focus on livelihoods approach is based on the realisation that
poverty is multi-dimensional. Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA)
however, provides a framework which integrates these various dimensions.
The current study uses both quantitative and qualitative data collection
methods. A total of 400 questionnaires were randomly administered to
households’ heads across the four case studies- Ajegunle, Ipaja, Oko-Baba
and Sari-Iganmu. In addition, a total of 40 interviews, including both
households and key informants interviews were conducted.

The study reveals that urban poor have inadequate access to both public and
private livelihoods assets. The inadequacy is manifested in both the
quantity (generally limited) and quality (generally poor) of livelihoods
assets. The study further reveals that, apart from the generic
vulnerabilities, urban poor in different locations across Lagos face
context (location) specific vulnerabilities, which are, often, either not
understood by policy makers or they are deliberately over looked, as not
important, when developing poverty alleviation strategies. There is a
disconnection between poverty reduction policies, and reality, aspirations
and needs of the poor. Institutions, including government, policy makers
and even urban planners, through various economic, environmental and urban
development policies, work against the ingenuity of the urban poor, thereby
undermining their efforts to building sustainable livelihoods and moving
out of poverty.

This study therefore suggests that one important element in reducing
poverty is a policy framework that guarantees inclusive provision of
livelihoods assets. It however recognises that provision of assets may not
be enough to achieve the desired poverty reduction. Hence, right of access,
which is also currently missing, to wide range of livelihoods’ assets,
including right to the city, for the urban poor is of necessity.
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