Peter Elias & Olatunji Babatola, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria

Presentation Title: Differential vulnerability and dilemma of responses to climate change in low-income coastal communities of Lagos




The impacts of climate change are increasingly recognized and concerted efforts are ongoing to mitigate and adapt. The emerging reality, however, indicates that low-income coastal communities are more vulnerable to climate change. This is because, in addition to changes in flooding, temperature and rainfall, they will also be affected by the rise in sea level, wave heights and accelerated coastal erosion. Coastal communities near Lagos, Nigeria already suffer from high levels of poverty, deprivation and spatial segregation. Profiling vulnerability for low-income coastal communities to climate change is very crucial for adaptation planning. This research adopted a qualitative assessment of the state of knowledge and capacities in planning climate change mitigation/adaptation in Lagos coastal communities by exploring both actual and perceived vulnerabilities by individuals, social groups and communities.

Key Lessons Learned

  • The policy responses to climate change impacts are usually spontaneous, lacking in data and knowledge in terms of drivers and pathways, spatial risk and vulnerability.  As a result, there are many challenges for government response and often inadequate responses have provoked criticism that has sometimes led to violent reactions from affected communities.
  • Recent flood events (2010 and 2011) have demonstrated insufficient adaptive capacities and the inadequacies of current planning methodology.
  • Areas included in the Lagos Master Plan are governed by a complex structure comprised of different levels of administration and government.  They have difficulties working together, resulting in competing goals among the various levels.   

Policy/Practice Implications of Research

Identifying hotspots and assessing different vulnerabilities and impacts to climate change, understanding perception and awareness, assessing capacity of existing systems and processes to adapt, and the willingness to deploy new adaptation strategies can inform recommendations for urban planning and adaptation.

Knowledge Gaps and Needs

  • To construct effective sustainable urban adaptation approaches, responses must involve coordination and cooperation at multiple levels of government agencies and stakeholders, and particularly the private sector, which is often absent from these discussions.
  • The state of Lagos should strengthen strategies and partnerships with relevant agencies beyond the state government to take advantage of available resources at all levels towards building capacity for climate change adaptation.