Makoko: Neglected by their government, supported by another
From Otodo Gbame to Port Harcourt Waterfront down to Makoko, while the governments of Lagos and Rivers States are forcefully evicting, destroying homes or planning to evict, some other fabulous people are rebuilding them “sustainably.”
On the Saturday, 25 November 2017, on invitation by the German Consulate in Nigeria, a small group of stakeholders joined Makoko community, Lagos Nigeria, to witness the unveiling of the “Makoko Neighborhood Hotspot”. The Makoko Neighborhood Hotspot is a biogas plant project from which cooking gas and fertilizer would be generated.
For starters, biogas is a renewable and clean source of energy, produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas can be produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste or food waste.
The biogas plant was developed and implemented by Fabulous Urban a Swiss based company with office in Nigeria, led by the founder, Fabienne Hoelzel, who is also a Professor of Urban Design, Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design. The project was funded by the Consulate General of Germany to Nigeria and Heinrich Boell Nigeria. There is a sense in which one is made to believe that most projects in underserved communities are carried out by developmental organisations (local and international NGOs, multilaterals and others) rather than the government. If so, it can be concluded that this group of the Nigerian society care more about the Nigerian citizenry than the government at local, state and federal levels do.
The biogas plant would be fed mainly by human feces in a toilet built as part of the plant site, and also by vegetable and organic wastes such as fish remains, banana peels, and others. The food waste would be stored in a bucket that is provided to the users, and the stored wastes would then be used to feed the plant.
The biogas plant would be managed by a community based cooperative trained particularly for this purpose, at the Lagos State Cooperative College. Users of the toilet will need to pay a token of 20 naira to use the toilet, the money collected from the users will be used to manage the facilities, give the community a sense of ownership and ensure the financial sustainability of the project. This also means that the people of Makoko no longer have to defecate in the Lagos Lagoon, which is great news for the fishes in the Lagoon, the community and environmentalists.
While the unveiling of the plant was great and the atmosphere cheerful, it was difficult to overlook the state of things in Makoko. There are more footpaths than actual roads, derelict wooden buildings scattered everywhere, little access to clean drinking water facilities, few toilet facilities, signs of obvious government neglect written everywhere, but Makoko is just one out of many underserved and neglected communities from the North to South of Nigeria.
Yes, the project is a welcomed development in Makoko and it will be highly beneficial to community members in Makoko, it should also serve as a wakeup call for the Nigerian government to act right and show concern for the plight of its underserved communities, rather than oppress them further.
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