Makoko/Iwaya area of Lagos state is documented as one of the oldest fishing village settlements in Africa dating as far back as the year 1890. Executive Director, Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), Mr. Fredrick Mouka stated this in a paper presentation on the Makoko/Iwaya community in Lagos.
The event tagged “Presentation of the Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Regeneration Plan and Other Flood Resilience Solutions” was hosted by the Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF) in conjunction with SERAC.
Mr. Mouka further stated that the genesis of the day’s presentation stems from the Lagos state demolition exercise, of the Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront community which began in July 2012 and provoked reactions from the residents who had been living there for over a century.This necessitated a research on the community by Environment experts, which revealed the remarkable culture and historical antecedence of the Fishing Village.
Furthermore,this prompted SERAC, the HBF and various other non-governmental organizations like Urban Spaces Innovation (USI) and Fabulous Urban to collaborate with the residents to work with a multidisciplinary working-group in developing a Regeneration Plan for both the land and water community of Makoko/Iwaya.
According to Mr Mouka, the Regeneration Plan is the product of a community-led and people-centered development model and expressed hope that this Development Model when presented to the Lagos State Government will be adopted.
It may be recalled that in August 2012 after the demolition exercise, the Lagos State Governor Mr. Babatunde Fashola is quoted as saying “… the people [of Makoko/Iwaya], we are not disturbing them but we are not going to allow that settlement to expand beyond what we have accepted. One of the things we also considered was that even if these people decide not to leave; can we help reorder them to make their lives more valuable and fulfilling if they chose to live on water? Because we understand that the Ilaje people are adaptable to water. Our Ministry of Physical Planning is working on a project as Plan B. In case they chose not to leave, we will make that place a tourist destination.”
In view of this, during the presentation of the Development Model as prepared by the team of experts, various aims and objectives were highlighted as follows, Ancestral and Historical Preservation; Community Development; Tourism and Economic Development; Sustainability and Resilience.
The presentation event which was held at the City Hall, Lagos Island, had in attendance a couple of representatives from State Ministries, including the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Environment, Engineer Adeleke.
Engineer Adeleke expressed support and agreed to advocate, for the consideration and adoption of the proposed Development Model.
Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront is an informal settlement established in the 18th Century, primarily as a fishing village and has been thriving ever since. The settlement built mainly stilts above the Lagos Lagoon has been largely neglected by government; most of the social and physical infrastructure has been provided by the communities or by various non-governmental organizations and philanthropists.