Overpopulation in Lagos State: Impacts and Possible Remedies

Living in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, brings mixed feelings. As many would love the nightlife and the extra opportunity it gives, especially those looking to have a job, and the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, ensuring both local and international trade, many spend most of their time on the road due to traffic or the stress of boarding public transport, amongst other things.

Where do all these drive to?

Overpopulation in Lagos State.

As it’s similar to areas located close to the waters, Lagos is a business area and even has its slogan, “Land of Commerce.”. So, people who come to do business or look for a striving business to plug into find themselves in Lagos.

This consequently brings a lot of people to the small land mass (one of the smallest in the country). Never forget that Lagos itself has its indigenes.

Even before Nigeria’s independence in 1960, Lagos has always been the business hub of the nation. Little wonder the influx of people from all over the country and beyond, and with more than 25 million people living here, Lagos is double the size of other African megacities like Kinshasa and Cairo.

Skyscrapers are springing up all over the affluent residential neighbourhoods of Ikoyi, Lekki, and Victoria Island as property developers rush to capitalise on this surge, straining the infrastructure in the process.

However, nowhere in Lagos is the overcrowding more apparent than at the waterfront slums directly across the lagoon.

These neighbourhoods are constantly in danger of being demolished without governmental approval, and they have little to no access to fundamental urban facilities.

Before delving into the specifics of how Lagos’s overpopulation has affected the city, let us clarify the root reason for this predicament.

Controlling rising population is a necessity - Businessday NG
An overcrowded market street in Lagos

Causes of Overpopulation in Lagos State

  • High Birth Rate
  • Social Opportunities
  • Economic Opportunities

1. High Birth Rate

One of the factors contributing to Lagos’ population expansion is the natural increase. When birth rates exceed death rates, there is a natural increase. Lagos’s population is comparatively young and has a high birth rate. Nigerians will live in urban regions at a higher rate than in rural ones during the next several years.

2. Social Opportunities

Because Lagos has greater access to resources and services than rural Nigeria, there are more social chances, drawing interested parties to the city.

  • Lagos has an excellent selection of medications and more hospitals and clinics.
  • In Lagos, 68% of the people have completed secondary education, with 40% living in rural parts of the country without attending primary school.
  • People in Lagos have access to electricity for lighting and cooking. Additionally, having access to power allows people to start enterprises.
  • Safe water is supplied straight to city areas from water treatment plants.

Lagos has more colleges and institutions than rural areas. Education increases one’s chances of landing a job in one of Lagos’s expanding industries.

3. Economic Opportunities

Additionally, Lagos offers a multitude of economic prospects that draw individuals to the city.

  • Nigeria’s rural areas are highly impoverished; most people travel to Lagos for better employment.
  • Due to the city’s rapid growth, many construction jobs are available, such as constructing Eko Atlantic, a new commercial centre.
  • Lagos is home to many of the nation’s banks, government agencies, and industry sectors—such as food and drink production—as well as a fishing sector and two large ports.
  • Lagos is home to a booming music and film industry, with “Nollywood” films enjoying great popularity.

Lagos has more jobs available than any other place in Nigeria. It is possible to work in the informal sector, such as a street seller or waste recycler, without paying taxes, even if you cannot obtain employment in the formal economy.

Lagos, a coastal megacity, has its issues, primarily due to overcrowding, despite the promise it holds.

Impacts of Overpopulation in Lagos State

  • Stress Living
  • Increased Carbon Emissions
  • Air Pollution
  • Environmental Degradation

1. Stress Living

Lagos’s population primarily comprises workers, generally rising at a pace of 3.34% within a tiny area. As a result, the state’s residents experience significant stress levels in their daily lives.

In this context, “stressful living” refers to mental strain and anxiety brought on by issues related to living in Lagos. Of all the problems that make life in Lagos stressful, environmental pollution and traffic congestion have the most significant negative impact on people’s health. They are linked to increased mortality.

These are silent killers that require immediate attention to stop. Many workers leave their homes at 4:30 am and return around 10 pm. Average workers’ daily commute is four hours, and their monthly commute, excluding weekends, is eighty-four hours.

2. Increased Carbon Emissions

Lagos’s growing population causes a rise in carbon emissions. This is unavoidable as the world’s population grows because more people, cars, industries, and other sectors will use fossil fuels, increasing carbon emissions—a gas that is bad for your health and contributes to climate change and air pollution, among other things.

3. Air Pollution

There is no clean, pure air available to Lagos residents. According to a 2019 World Bank report titled “Cost of air pollution in Lagos,” 11,200 premature deaths and various illnesses in 2018 were linked to air pollution exposure.

Sixty per cent of the state’s deaths were among children under five, who were the worst afflicted. The study also supported the estimate that in the same year, the cost of mortality and morbidity from air pollution was $2.1 billion, or 0.5% of Nigeria’s GDP, or almost 2.1% of Lagos State’s GDP.

In general, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulphur oxide, and nitrogen oxide are the primary pollutants found in cities. Nonetheless, the state’s millions of automobiles, large industries, generators, and waste-burning smoke are the leading causes of pollution.

4. Environmental Degradation

Lagos’s excessive population has led to higher energy use, which worsens environmental deterioration and depletion. Due to the rising need for energy to meet population demands, the environment will become more exhausted and deteriorate.

In other words, as the number of people on Earth rises, so does the pressure on the environment to continue providing the resources necessary to support them.

Therefore, the Nigerian environment will suffer significantly if the current growth rate continues.

In addition to the previously mentioned adverse effects, there are additional detrimental effects of an ever-increasing human population, such as increased pollution from cars, a direct impact on the water table (which is rapidly falling below average), excessive use of natural resources, deforestation and desertification, urban sprawl, clearing land for residential use, and an increase in waste.

Although opinions on this work’s methodology may vary, it is based on the theory that population growth, one of the main contributors, is primarily to blame for environmental degradation.

It is undoubtedly insufficient when one considers the many other causes that can also contribute to environmental degradation. Overconsumption or a poverty-based strategy might even be a more significant contributing element.

As a result, sustainable development gains even greater significance overall, opening up opportunities for additional research using alternative methodologies on the impact of population growth on Nigeria’s environment.

Possible Remedies to Tackle Overpopulation in Lagos State

To lessen stress and raise the standard of living for Lagosians, the Lagos State Government spends billions of naira annually on land reclamation, particularly on the island, new road construction, urban renewal, repairing crumbling roads, building flyovers, assessments of industrial pollution, environmental monitoring, and sanitation.

The increase in population and a flood of people have prevented these efforts from producing noticeable results. For example, in just two years, a governor in Lagos built 51 new roads and renovated 632 existing ones, yet, the traffic jams in different parts of Lagos are still there.

The finest options are, without a doubt, decongestion and de-pollution. While the latter means to remove, clean up, or reduce pollution, the former means to relieve the city of overcrowding.

To achieve this, the federal government must enact and fund policies aimed at enhancing well-conditioned commercial prospects in at least two states from each of the six geopolitical zones.

It would deter people from moving to Lagos, fairly distribute developments across the country, boost government revenue, and give everyone access to work opportunities.

However, according to international best practices, the Lagos State government should implement cutting-edge garbage recycling technologies and increase the number of state laws requiring businesses to adopt environmentally friendly production practices.

Acquire more new BRTs and keep them reasonably priced to deter people from using private vehicles for transportation. Encourage the construction of additional electric power plants to improve the utilisation of generators and implement a power supply.

Building skyscrapers and other alternate modes of transit, like the intra-city ratio, is not a bad idea to manage available land.


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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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