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Document Abstract
Published: 2003

Urban poverty in Nigeria: a case study of Agege area of Lagos State, Nigeria

Poverty perceived: lessons from the poor in increasing income or providing the basics
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Nigeria is experiencing a serious and alarming rise in the levels of urban poverty when compared to rural poverty, so what are its characteristics? This study was carried out in Agege area of Lagos State to determine conditions under which the urban poor live in order to provide information, which will help the city and state administrators, develop more positive policies and actions towards the poor.

The paper finds that:

  • poverty is perceived in terms of perpetual hunger, living in poor housing conditions without water, kitchen and toilet facilities, inadequate income, malnutrition, lack of access to social services, lack of social and political status and being able to participate with dignity in society
  • about 35% of the poor had no formal education while about 65% either had primary, secondary or tertiary education
  • 49% of households are either unemployed or self-employed
  • the poor depend mostly on re-adjusting their expenditure patterns and savings, feeding, clothing and education of children, the majority of the households either fail to save at all or save less than 10% of their income
  • inequality in income or wealth distribution and the existence of different poverty levels are accounted for by unequal opportunities to get the same level of education, the type of occupation of the household head, and partly due to the difference in the number of household size and the number of people working in the household

The paper concludes that:

  • just as ignorance maintains poverty, so also poverty perpetuates ignorance, since the poor cannot think and plan beyond where the next meal is coming from
  • education, household size, occupation, employment, shelter, income and social infrastructural facilities such as health facilities, roads electricity, good schools, accommodation, water can be linked to the occurrence of poverty in the area, therefore, any attempt to improving these factors will be a step in the right direction in alleviating poverty in the region and in Nigeria as a whole
  • there is need for government to formulate and carry out thorough implementation of economic development plans and programmes that will provide employment, housing, education, improved health care facilities among other things specifically for the urban poor
  • the Government Poverty Alleviation Programme should be restructured if not re-designed and should be centred on the ‘basic needs’ approach, which emphasizes the importance of separating generalized increase in income from the more significant attainment of the requirements for a permanent reduction of poverty through the provision of health services, education, housing sanitation, water supply and adequate nutrition
  • improving the social services of the poor will be an essential part of any long-term strategy for reducing poverty in the urban slums of Lagos and Nigeria as a whole
  • anti-inflationary policies are required that will reduce the burden created by current inflation that makes most necessary consumer items unaffordable to the poor, this will help to increase the real wage of the salary earners and other income earning activities
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T. S. Osinubi

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