In Lagos, the rainy season signifies more than the inconvenience of getting your feet wet and trying to remember your umbrella. Instead, annual flooding means getting wet to at least your knees if you venture out. But even if you stay in, water might flood in and destroy your house. And it’s getting worse. Experts predict the city might be submerged by 2100.

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Peak flooding usually comes in September. But already in July this year, Lagos was suffering from flooding that endangered lives and property and impaired commerce. Typically, flooding costs Lagos 4 billion dollars per year.

As Nigerian actress Kate Henshaw tweeted, “Every year!!!! Same same in Lagos!! Nothing is ever done about flooding but to tell citizens to move.” Lagos is partially on the mainland and partially on islands. The low-lying city suffers from a rising ocean coupled with poorly maintained drainage systems and rocketing population growth.

More than 24 million people live in this city on the Atlantic coast. But scientific projections point to Lagos’ being uninhabitable by the end of the century. A 2012 study by the University of Plymouth in the U.K. predicted that a sea-level rise of three to nine feet “will have a catastrophic effect on the human activities” in Lagos and other Nigerian coastal settlements.

Affluent Victoria Island is already in trouble. “There’s this problem of the river bank being washed away,” said Manzo Ezekiel, spokesperson for NEMA, Nigeria’s emergency management agency. “The increase in water level is eating into the land.”

A new city called Eko Atlantic is being built on reclaimed land on Victoria Island. Developers plan to protect Eko Atlantic with an eight-kilometer-long wall made from concrete blocks. It will sort of be like a stationary ark built to withstand the coming floods. But instead of animals coming on two-by-two, some of Lagos’ richest people will likely take refuge behind what is being called the Great Wall of Lagos. The wall “has passed vigorous tests by the world-renowned Danish Hydraulic Research Centre,” according to Eko Atlantic’s website, and will allegedly endure “the most severe tidal surges forecast over the next 1,000 years.”

Ezekiel worries that “reclaiming land from the sea will put pressure on other coastal areas.” The Eko Atlantic website says it expects a population of 300,000 residents plus 200,000 daily commuters — likely to include many service workers. Subtract 300,000 from Lagos’ total population, and you still have about 23.7 million people unprotected by the Great Wall and vulnerable to tidal surges.


Lead image via Pixabay