"Nigeria and the people in Ilaje who lost their homes recently are heavy on my heart. I can't stop thinking about them," Hands at Work volunteer, Kristal Hoff, recently wrote.
In a 2006 report, the World Bank identified nine Lagos slums requiring an urgent response. Hands at Work is active in three of these slums, including Ilaje which is notorious being perched on the edge of an ocean bay and extending out over the water with homes built on stilts.
Read Kristal's thoughts on the recent developments in Ilaje below.
In 2009 I had the opportunity to visit Nigeria, specifically a community called Ilaje in Lagos. I blogged about it here. Ilaje was fascinating because half of the people lived on the land and half lived on the water in these wooden shacks on stilts.
I recently discovered that the government demolished all the homes that were on the water, leaving many families homeless and hopeless. Some have secured shelters on land but many have left looking for shelter elsewhere.
The only thing I could find on it are these excerpts from an article I found online:
The Lagos State Government has ordered the demolition of over 400 shanty homes on Ilaje Lagoon in Bariga Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
With this development over 1, 000 Ilaje people living on water in the area will be displaced.
Commissioner for Waterfront and Infrastructure Development, Prince Adesegun Oniru visited the area on Wednesday and was unhappy about what he saw, saying that government could no longer tolerate a situation where its waterfront is turned into a slum by the Ilajes and that they have to quit the place.
According to him, the area had been an eyesore, especially when viewed from the Third Mainland Bridge, stressing that this ugly spectacle could drive away foreign investors visiting Lagos for the first time.
He vowed that the government would demolish all the shanties at the next visit, adding that, "we have come here to warn you to leave this place; we would not come back here to warn you again.
"The bridge you see there is an international link bridge, and we do not like the eyesore these shanties are creating here, we do not want them near the bridge anymore. The entire area has been bastardised with shanties in the water and we would remove them if you refuse to move."
On the possibility of relocating them, Oniru said that there were no plans to assist the dwellers relocate to other areas, saying, "Why will you relocate someone that is not supposed to be in this area in the first place? There are people here along the water front, they are not supposed to be here; they should move away from there and I don’t believe that a plan should be put in place to relocate them."
It's easy to let it pass, but there are two girls stuck in my mind that I can't shake. They lived in a home on the water and attended one of our community schools.
They have names. But now they don't have a home. Help me pray for them and others like them.
Please pray for those in authority to have wisdom and that our displaced children can be resettled and that they can continue enjoying food security, basic health care and education provided for in the community based organisation in Ilaje community. Pray that our children will be able to come back and continue with their education.