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Lagos: Drowning in Trash

Lagos, Nigeria: The center of western Africa’s economy and one of the worlds largest trash producers. Lagos was planned to be a small town, but two hundred years later, Lagos grew, almost one hundred times over. One of the biggest cities in the world, it sits sixth on the list of the largest cities in the world. Like most cities, it is saturated in slums and poor boroughs. Areas are so bad, most of the city is not connected with water or sanitation. The original streets were designed for a fraction of the people, leading to hours of traffic daily. Lagos is projected to be one of the largest cities in the world within a hundred years, amounting a population of a staggering one hundred million people. The situation is dire right now, and it is only going to get worse.

Skeptics will say that Lagos isn’t in danger, they will refer to the birth rate and refer to the fact that it is decreasing per one thousand people.

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The birth rate is decreasing in Nigeria, however, it is still one of the HIGHEST birth rate in the world per one thousand people. This is an issue, and not only is the birth rate high, the life expectancy is increasing as well. Life expectancy is increasing drastically in Nigeria, a generally good thing, but the current average age is fifty three, tied for the third LOWEST in the world.

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This is symbolic of a change in Nigeria, one centered on Lagos. More people are getting access to healthcare, people are realizing that with more medical care in Lagos, it is a top priority to relocate there. However health is also an issue there, with garbage borne illnesses spreading rapidly, such as Lassa.  This is just one example of a looming issue literally towering over the city, garbage.

This is a picture of the Olusosun dump, one of the largest dump sites in the world. Located in the center of town, Olusosun is a place where twenty million pounds of trash gets dumped a day. Olusosun is part of the city now, and is blended into its backbone. It is situated next to a hospital and a school, with the smell of hot trash wafting through the air to the apartments surrounding the dump, and even downtown.

Garbage is so prevalent in the city, that it has become its own business. People have constructed small villages on top of mountains of trash, in order to gather valuable recyclable materials to turn into cash.

This is symbolic of the general trend in Nigeria, the focus on recycling, and the general shrinkage of trash. However, Nigeria doesnt have enough energy to recycle the garbage into pellets. Nigeria suffers from a lack of energy, an issue that the minister of Nigeria, Fashola touches on: “Although the country has expended what may appear sizeable, the money so far spent was inadequate to address the current challenges.”. Nigeria is currently only running on half of its potential energy production, meaning that it lacks the ability to recycle at a reliable rate. This has resulted people flattening the trash into pellets and shipping them to China.

Lagos is an example of what the future is going to look like. If Lagos is expected to inflate enough to house one hundred million people, they are going to need to fix their rising trash issue. Trash, along with lack of power and sanitary conditions is plaguing the country, and even though it seems like a long road ahead, something needs to change or else Nigeria is going to be uninhabitable.

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