Ibadan, Nigeria

by Laurent Fourchard


The intense crowding and subsequent deterioration of Ibadan’s inner city took place over a long period, closely linked to socio-economic change and limited municipal budgets. The, in principle, well-planned town thus turned into a slum. In 1963, half of the city’s core area consisted of slum dwellings, growing to 70 per cent of the town’s total number of derelict housing in 1985. Problems of illegal squatting, conversion of functions and extremely poor levels of service provision are compounded by the apparent lack of financial capacity and political will to upgrade such a large area. In addition, people strongly oppose resettlement due to their strong attachment to the ancestral lands.

During the past 20 years, the planned city saw a growth of squatting areas along the urban fringes and in the crowded low- and medium-income residential areas of the first half of the 20th century. Massive cash injections in urban utilities and infrastructure during the 1970s oil boom attracted a flow of rural migrants and citizens of other African states. Considerable unplanned development thus occurred along the major traffic arteries in the northern, eastern and southern directions, resulting in urban areas entirely devoid of urban management and planning. Whatever facilities were provided in these relatively prosperous times rapidly declined due to overuse and lack of maintenance. Rapid development of makeshift shelters since the 1980s largely corresponds to general, nation-wide increases in poverty.

Slums are defined as those areas that are yet to develop in terms of good planning and settlement. Some of the characteristics of slums are that they lack infra-structural facilities, have no planned layout and the residents are predominantly poor and illiterate. Slums are areas that concentrate low-income earners, low-cost houses, possibly mud houses, no layout and poor inhabitants.

The three main slum types in Ibadan are:

Inner city slums: these consist of the oldest (19th century) and lowest quality residences and are characterized by severe deterioration, the city’s highest population density and no identifiable sanitation facilities. They house a very high percentage of indigenous Yoruba people.

Squatting areas: the low- and medium-income residential districts of the first half of the 20th century – although better controlled by the planning authorities – have attracted some illegal squatting by migrants from the 1970s and 1980s onwards. Squatting is highly organized and cannot be considered as spontaneous.

Unplanned outskirts: from the 1970s to the 1990s, land along the major traffic arteries has attracted slums in the north, the east and the south of the city. Here, at the outskirts of the city, 30 per cent of the derelict houses in Ibadan are found. Most of them have developed because a new labour market gave opportunities for employment, but without housing provision. Some spontaneous slums also exist in other parts of the city; but few data are available.

There are serious problems with migrants’ access to land, partly because of discriminatory allocation of urban land, particularly with the last migration wave of the Hausa during the late 1970s. The uncertain political situation and the ethnic riots of the past 30 years are associated with loss of property. Migrants, therefore, prefer to rent in order to allow for a quick departure in emergencysituations. There is, generally, a high percentage of poor and illiterate people; but the percentage varies from slum to slum.

Since the 1950s, Nigerian urban governance has had three separate levels of government that directly intervene: federal, state and local government. During the 1960s to the 1980s, the power of local authorities decreased. Local government largely viewed slums as inevitable and not an issue that could be addressed at the local level. Thus, only marginal interventions took place, if any. A series of interventions to improve slums and alleviate poverty took place from 1988 onwards. However, the failure to address weak local-level capacity to formulate strategies, programmes and projects, combined with rampant corruption and conflicts between various levels of governance, wasted most of the resources.

Multiple agencies responsible for generating urban policies have not been able to effect urban improvements. Rather, duplication of functions and lack of coordination has affected the entire city. Conflicts of jurisdiction and competence, the absence of effective coordination between levels of government, frequent bureaucratic changes, low priority for urban planning, and the commensurate lack of funding have caused delays and confusion in the execution of urban policies.

This summary has been extracted from:

UN-Habitat (2003) Global Report on Human Settlements 2003, The Challenge of Slums, Earthscan, London; Part IV: 'Summary of City Case Studies', pp195-228.

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2003 Development Planning Unit | Anna Soave | Khanh Tran-Thanh