Last year, Toyin Oshaniwa, Executive Director for Nature Cares (a non-governmental organization), participated in one of NPA’s certificate program courses: An Introduction to Sustainable Communities. Following his participation in the course, Oshaniwa conducted a study of the community of Eleko, along the coastline of Lagos in Nigeria. As Oshaniwa notes in the conclusion of his first report, “the dawn of sustaining futures for all human communities and, in last instance, the community of all life depends upon humans being critically aware of social and ecological problems and challenges of the times.” Check out the Nigerian news article highlighting Oshaniwa’s work and research. And below you’ll find Oshaniwa’s full report.
Synthesis Report on Sustainable Community Research- Case Study of Eleko & Itun Agan Community
SUSTAINABLE ELEKO COMMUNITY- FOCUSING ON ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES
Global challenges are an alarming indicator that calls for reflection on how best to utilize, preserve, and conserve our natural resources, a call for sustainable lifestyle, sustainable growth, sustainable economy and sustainable development.
In the new millennium, great attention is being paid to environmental protection so that future generations can also benefits from the bounty of nature. The new slogan of the 2000s is “sustainable development or sustainability“ which is impacting on most, if not on all, economic and social aspects of growth, and which is of paramount significant to Lagos State as an emerging mega city. The tires of government need to address locally her social, ecological and economy challenges in meeting the agenda for sustainable development in the state.
The concept of Sustainable Communities is one of the sustainability movements of creating awareness, educating, promoting peace, values and mainstreaming the three pillars of sustainability in development process. Thus, Sustainable communities are communities planned, built, or modified to promote sustainable living. They tend to focus on environmental sustainability (including development and agriculture) and economic sustainability.
ITUN AGAN COMMUNITY
Eleko Community is one of the old communities of Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos, renowned for her swampy nature and located along the coastline of Lagos State, Nigeria. In the present economy growth and development of LagosState, Eleko is the ´´Gate Way´´ of economy prosperity of today’s LagosState. Both the Lekki Free Trade Zone and the Eco-tourismVillage cut across Eleko community. History also pointed out that the economy significance of the community was predicated long ago by the priest of the land, that a Road will be but across the swamp which will be a light to the community.
Eleko community has approximately a population of 5,000 inhabitants. Major occupation of the people is fishing and some trading activities because of the famous ´´ELEKOBEACH`´
In the context of promoting a Sustainable ELEKO Community, dimensional questions might help in giving a clear picture of the future of Eleko Community.
1) How sustainable is Eleko Community in 2015/2020?
2) How sustainable is her fishing activities
3) What are the ecological, social and economic challenges
4) Governance and community development (Community Participation)
The research visit to Eleko Community on 11th December 2012 was to study the community and understand her natural resources, development of the area, challenges mostly in respect to the environment and most importantly meeting with the key stakeholder of the community, thus, community leaders and elders.
Environmental Potentials and Challenges: Eleko Community is rich in natural resources and biodiversity, the community been a swamp area is surrounded by palm trees, swampy shrubs, water tolerant plants, coconut trees along the coastal shore, the ocean rich in biodiversity such as sea foods ( Shrimps, periwinkles prawns, fish).
The following challenges were observed in Eleko Community:
- Impact of climate change on the community which can be directly or indirectly affecting the people f Eleko such as low fishing activities, rising in sea level, high ocean tides, changes in weather and fishing patterns and sizes , loss of natural shore line protection (Coconut Plants)
- Poor Waste Management in the community
- Land clearing or utilization
- Water and Sanitation
- Intrusion of Salty water and impact on skin
To address the environmental or ecological problems, sustainability strategies can be employ to create more environmental values and reduce the negative impact of the people activities or lifestyle on the environment.
Social Potentials and Challenges: The strongest element of sustainable community is the promotion of social equity, appreciating cultural values and peace. The people of Eleko community are peaceful, supportive and accommodative, meeting and interaction with them shows the desire to develop in a sustainable way, by identifying social needs for the community, and development that will help the future generation.
Some of the noted challenges are:
- Poor Sanitary System (Toilets)
- No basic educational infrastructure and system ( Primary and Secondary School)
- Vulnerable Livelihood, especially the women.
A practical sustainable community participatory project will promote a sustainable community development.
Economical Potentials and Challenges: Eleko community as a gate way of economic development of Lagos is a strong potential and economic value for the community if justly and rightfully utilize. The second form of economy activities in the community is trading; meaning with the full operation of both economy projects, thus Lekki Free Trade Zone and Eco-tourismVillage, the community will become economical vibrant and promoting new business, employment and development.
The fear is the poor government policies and lack of good governance that never consider the people in developmental process, the Lekki Free Trade Zone is an indication that there will be land use conflict and destruction of natural resources with no proper sustainability plans. Some noted challenges are:
- Poor roads within the community
- Illegal selling of lands
- No sustainability plan for the community
- Women and Youth Unemployment which might be a treat to the business community of eleko
- Neglect of the fishing potential or market
- Poor fishing equipment for local fishermen and safety
- Poor government fishing polices that promote unsustainable fishing activities of commercial fishing industries.
Both the local and state government must ensure a sustainability plan that will protect the source of live hood of the community people, protection of their lands for future generation, investing in fishing industries by building modern fishing markets , research and development center for fishing industries, youth and women empowerment programs and green job creation.
The dawn of sustaining futures for all human communities and, in last instance, the community of all life depends upon humans being critically aware of social and ecological problems and challenges of the times.
Expanding the sustainable development to the sustainable communities’ paradigm will lead humanity to make the stark choice between growth and fairness, a choice that is being played out in the American presidential campaign of 2012.
We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more.”
Part two of the report will focus on ITUN AGAN