In the recent past, housing has bought a lot of concern in Lagos, Nigeria. Notably, this
challenge has mainly been accelerated by the dramatic increase in population. The population of
Lagos had increased by approximately 1.4 million between the years 1963 and 1975 (Agbola &
Agunbiade, 2009). The current city population nears 10 million, and studies suggest that it will
be approximately 24 million in next year (Agbola & Agunbiade, 2009). Notably, this indicates a
rapid growth in population, and this has resulted in overwhelming the limited resources, such as
housing in Lagos. Moreover, studies have found out that nearly 606 individuals move to Nigeria
in every minute. According to Agbola And Agunbiade (2009), the rapid population has created a
lot of demographic pressure within the city, thus increasing demand for land. Consequently, the
rural immigrants overwhelm the land around the city for their benefit and have, in turn, led to
organized use of land. The local residents have been the primary victims of such activities due to
challenges such as lack of infrastructure.
Additionally, the rapid population growth rate in Lagos, Nigeria, has raised security
concerns in the area. Agbola and Agunbiade (2009) argue that high insecurity in Lagos city has
also affected the living standards of the local inhabitants. They add that insecurity of the tenure
has recently lowered the living conditions of the local residents in the area. Comapartively,
Alagbe (2006) argues that Lagos, Nigeria, was like a magnet for migrants within Nigeria and the
neighboring countries. Also, as per Alagbe (2006), Lagos housing and development of
infrastructure in the area are mainly affected by the rapidly growing population that eventually
leads to overstretching of the limited resources, such as land. As a result, this situation has
dramatically lowered living standards, thus increasing urban slums and squatter settlements in
the Metropol. As such, the paper aims at investigating the main challenges affecting slums and
squatter housing in Lagos with the aim of seeking possible strategies for handling the situation.
Housing Development and Environmental Degradation in Nigeria
Studies suggest that the significant problem of urbanization in most African nations,
especially Nigeria, is the rapid deterioration of living conditions and urban living conditions.
Notably, urbanization always attracts a massive population, which eventually leads to
overcrowding in various cities, such as Lagos. The majority of the residents in Lagos do not have
better housing due to the rapidly growing population in the area. Moreover, the housing needs
are seemingly unmatched with the demands of the majority of the residents who cannot afford
better housing in the area (Amao, 2012). Interestingly, recent studies revealed that the rate of
new housing stock provision in Nigeria is behind the rate of population growth; thus, resulting in
a housing deficit in the country. Further studies suggest that the country has to provide
approximately 70,000 housing provision annually in order to cope up with its current population
Rapid population growth in Nigeria has increased the cost of living in the country as a
result of the high demand for various commodities in urban areas. Moreover, the cost of housing
in Nigeria has recently gone up, and this has significantly affected the majority of the people in
the lower socio-economic class. The housing supply is also a concern as the number of houses in
most urban areas, such as Lagos, cannot sustain the ever-growing population in the urban areas
(Daniel et al., 2015). Notably, the urban population is mainly crowded with an individual whose
employment is regular and are also low-income earners. This portion of the population is usually
crowded, poor, constrained to limited resources, poor health, acute sanitary problems, and poor
SLUM AND SQUATTER UPGRADING IN LAGOS NIGERIAN 3
The rapid population growth in Nigeria has recently surpassed the government's
capability to provide enough shelter and social amenities to needy residents in urban areas. As a
result, this has increased poverty in various metropolitan areas in the country (Amao, 2012).
Furthermore, most of the housing stock is economically out of reach for many households living
in poverty. As a result, many families in urban areas have resort to building their houses in
various illegally acquired land using refuse materials. Consequently, this has increased slums and
squatter settlements in most Nigeria, especially Lagos. Notably, housing in slums often lack
maintenance and are poorly constructed; thus, resulting in the illegal use of land, poor sanitation,
and deterioration of the natural resources. Consequently, this has even made the living condition
in slums more difficult for most inhabitants.
Despite the state involvement in correcting the situation, much still has to be done to
address the problem appropriately. It is known that most states often take the bulk of housing to
provide enough shelter to their citizens, especially those residing in urban areas. However, in
Nigeria, it is the opposite as most of the houses that provided accommodation in various
metropolitan areas are mainly informal private sectors. The government of Nigeria has not given
much attention to the provision of housing the city-dwellers, and this has also contributed
significantly to slum and squatter settlement in the country. As mentioned earlier, most people
have resort to acquire government land illegally and contract houses, most of which are
substandard in quality. Notably, bad housing has significant impacts on individuals who reside in
such houses. Studies suggest that housing can physical and mental impacts on the occupants;
thus, producing negative externalities in society. As such, the state perceived housing as a social
right and a necessity to life, whose provision should be a communal thing. Therefore, the
government suggests that the provision of housing should not only be left on the hands of the
market force as that cannot ensure fair distribution of housing in the state.
The official participation context on housing provision in Nigeria is often perceived as
political and economic expediency other than social and environmental necessity. As such,
housing provision should be targeted towards peace and stable development. Importantly, the
state aims at supporting the needy groups in society and supporting the market forces, which also
plays a vital role in the housing provision.
Urban Environmental Hazards in Nigeria
Environmental is one of the special aspects of life that support systems with land, water,
and other materials that helps in fulfilling the development of man's aspirations. Currently, the
Nigerian government is not in a good state as before. Notably, this is associated with
overpopulation in most urban centers lately. In Nigeria, most cities are seemingly vulnerable to
natural calamities, such as storm damages, flooding, and erosion. The poor and people living in
substandard housing are the most victimized by these calamities as they live in unsafe houses
built on vulnerable lands. As a result, most such individuals living in the substandard have been
killed while others injured out of such calamities. Moreover, motor vehicle poses a significant
environmental threat to urban dwellers. Reports indicate that nearly 121 451 people in Nigeria
have lost their lives in various road traffic accidents since 1990 and 1995. 15.66 % of road traffic
accidents were reported in Lagos, Nigeria’s Metropolitan city.
Industrialization is also accountable for environmental degradation in various cities in
Nigeria. Motor vehicles are the primary cause of pollution in most cities in Nigeria. Also, there is
an increase in demand for energy for running different electric appliances and air-conditioning,
which also pollutes the environment. Notably, the urban system often burns fossil fuel, which
SLUM AND SQUATTER UPGRADING IN LAGOS NIGERIAN 4
releases greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. When
these gases are released into the atmosphere, they destroy the ozone layer, which eventually
leads to global warming. Consequently, this can lead to sudden changes in weather conditions
and changes in vegetation.
Causes of Slum formation in Nigeria
There are several factors associated with slum formation in Nigeria. Some of the factors are;
Scarcity of Land, the Security of Tenure, and Services
Studies indicate that most of the low-income earners in Nigeria often find it cheaper to
secure cheap plots with prevalence and services of non-secure tenures. As a result, this has
increased the spread of slums in most cities in Nigeria.
Negligence of Buildings
Studies indicate that the prevalence of slums in most cities in Nigeria has also been
accelerated with the neglect of most houses, which eventually become substandard. Also, the
negligence of houses in the urban areas is occasioned by the low capital base of the inhabitants
living in such houses (Okoye, Ezeokonkwo, & Mbakwe, 2017). Notably, negligence of building
often leads to rapid physical deterioration resulting in the formation of slums.
Poverty and Illiteracy
High levels of poverty and illiteracy have also been found to contribute significantly to
the prevalence of slums in Nigeria. Slums are often perceived as the locus of poverty, with many
factors that promote slums development and growth are evidenced. Incredibly, poverty in slums
usually has a significant impact on the economic development of any nation. Notably, the low-
income earners living in slums affect capital formation, which eventually deprives those with
sufficient resources for comfortable living. Moreover, this explains why more than six people
would live in a room in the slums.
Poor Enforcement of Sanitation Laws
Studies reveal that there no appropriate law enforcement procedures in most cities in
Nigeria. As a result, this has created a lot of problems in waste management in urban centers due
to the vast accumulation of waste in such areas. Besides, most houses in urban areas do not have
sanitary facilities, such as toilets, sewers, and bathrooms. This situation forces most people living
in urban areas to dispose of wastes, especially domestic waste careless; thus, increasing
environmental pollution in urban areas. Also, the Nigeria government has weak control of
development, thus promoting squatter settlement in urban areas (Nwaka, 1992). However, this is
not perceived as a lack of laws but failure to enforce the existing laws to regulate squatter settle
in urban areas. Moreover, in most cases, slums lack sufficient space for recreation like other
places in urban areas. Additionally, poor development control can lead to flooding in slums as
people tend to build their drainage system, which contributes to poor drainage in the slum
Strategies for Slum and Squatter Upgrading In Nigeria
As seen above, slum and squatter settlements have recently increased in Nigeria,
especially in Lagos. While this is happening, people living in various slums in Nigeria seem to
encounter various challenges in such areas. Moreover, squatter settlement has a significant
impact on the economic development of any state. As such, it is essential to come up with
appropriate strategies that can upgrade the informal settlement in Lagos, Nigeria. Upgrading
squatter settlement incorporates some things that can eventually improve the living standards of
the individuals living in such areas. Therefore, upgrading informal settlement should include;
improving access squatter settlements to economic opportunities, tenure rights, primary and
SLUM AND SQUATTER UPGRADING IN LAGOS NIGERIAN 5
social infrastructure, focusing of the poor, information and institution, and involving the slum
communities planning, implementation, and monitoring of the process. Essentially, it is essential
to involve the tenure in the process as this promotes understanding of the process (Amao, 2012).
Fundamentally, the process of upgrading the squatter settlement should address various
challenges affecting the inhabitants. Also, health issues affecting the inhabitants should be
addressed by providing them with health education programs, clinics, school facilities and
teacher training, programs for improving income, and the health status of the community.
There are different approaches to upgrading slums and squatter settlements in Nigeria. Some of
the effective strategies are discussed below;
Convectional Informal Settlement upgrading
The conventional informal settlement upgrading involves the re-development of a
squatter settlement in a manner that is comprehensive and relatively complete in the context of
housing, tenure, and infrastructural services. In this case, the full range of the project
requirements has to be secured to ensure a successful upgrading process. As such, conventional
informal settlement upgrading helps the participants of the participants, especially the slums
settlers, to conceptualize the essence of the process to them.
Community driven upgrading
Unlike, convectional informal settlement upgrading, community-driven improvement is
quite slower; however, it offers a wide range of advantages. Essentially, community-driven
upgrading often emphasizes on mobilizing and realizing of the greater control and ownership of
housing of residents in a squatter settlement. Moreover, community-driven improvement
increases the participation of the residents in the design process. Lastly, a community-driven
upgrading strategy is a cost-effective construction process, and it does not require a lot of
revenue to implement.
This strategy of upgrading can only affect a portion of the population as it is difficult to
relocate the entire community. Also, relocation of a settlement is always dependent on the safety
and health of the resident in the new areas of settlement. Notably, relocation can be temporary or
permanent, depending on such factors. Relocating the entire settlement to a given place is often
taken as a last option, but the health and safety of the population have to be given priority.
Non-Conventional In-Situ Upgrading
Non-conventional In-Situ upgrading seems to be gaining more attention compared to
conventional informal settlement upgrading as it has proven to be suitable in identifying suitable
relocations for various green-field projects. This process often takes two forms namely;
i. It provides interim relief measures that address the primary needs in the slums, such as
proper sanitation, access to prattle water, primary health care, reliable waste removal, and
improved internal access ways.
ii. Non-conventional In-Situ upgrading strategy can also deliver a full upgrade solution;
however, this strategy utilizes a variety of methods as well as housing typologies (Alkali,
When upgrading urban areas, certain procedures are essential to ensure the effectiveness
of the process. Here is the procedure for urban upgrading.
a) The first step involves the translation of the informal settlements programs into a
local context. Notably, this process also involves considering certain procedures.
Essentially, this first step helps in enhancing understanding of the upgrading; thus,
increasing the likelihood of success of the process.
SLUM AND SQUATTER UPGRADING IN LAGOS NIGERIAN 6
b) It is essential to understand relevant changes to policy-making to ensure that the
operations are conducted in line with visions of the process.
c) It is essential to create a useful governance framework for administrative purposes.
More importantly, this step helps in empowering marginalized groups.
d) It is also essential to establish a dialogue platform. Essentially, a platform for
dialogue facilitates communication and coordination between key actors and
partnerships from effective public and private sectors (Okoye, Ezeokonkwo, &
e) This step involves supporting the existing policy through a willingness to learn for
past experience. Importantly, eagerness continuous knowledge sharing and learning –
are both essential during upgrading.
f) It is essential to outline commitments for fighting social inequalities in squatter
settlement by establishing effective social justice. Essentially, this will help protect
the form of the informal settlement of social injustice in various slums in Nigeria
(Alkali, 2005). Lack of a good justice system in various slums setting often subjects
most of the inhabitants to various social abuses.
g) It is also vital to conceptualize various challenges affecting the inhabitants of a slum.
Notably, this can be achieved by analyzing some of the major causes of the
challenges affecting them (Bobadoye & Fakere, 2013). More importantly, this helps
in identifying the right upgrading strategy applicable to a given squatter settlement.
h) There have to be proper linkages between various policy areas, such as housing,
spatial planning, and land management.
i) The urban settlement strategies should focus on the importance of settlement
connection to economic, social, urban, and environmental development processes
(Bobadoye & Fakere, 2013).
The first civilian administration also had some strategies for upgrading slum and squatter
settlements in Nigeria. Incredibly, it involves significant changes to policy while using a more
integrated and radical approach in handling different housing problems. Some of the first civilian
administration strategies include;
i. The first strategy, in this case, involves constructing the housing directly on a massive
scale. Essentially, this strategy is expected to solve the situation of house shortage in
various urban areas in Nigeria (Adebayo & Iweka, 2014). More importantly, this will
help to provide enough housing for the low-income groups living in urban areas,
ii. The second strategy entails the establishment of the 1981 New Towns Development
Authority (NTDA), which allowed the private individuals in housing provision
(Okoye, Ezeokonkwo, & Mbakwe, 2017). Also, the New town Development
Authority provided an enabling urban environment that could support the growing
iii. The third strategy aims at increasing savings for building as a strategy to improve
hooding in Nigeria. Thus has been achieved by establishing Lagos Building
Investment Corporation, which aims at giving financial support to various
homeowners to enhance housing in Nigeria (Ilesanmi, 2010).
Millennium Development Goals, on the other hand, tries to provide an enabling
environment for the slum dwellers by providing them with adequate infrastructure. Moreover,
the architecture in affected areas has also emerged together to come up with sustainable designs
SLUM AND SQUATTER UPGRADING IN LAGOS NIGERIAN 7
that will enhance urban development (Daniel et al., 2015). Moreover, the agency recently
conducted a visit tone of the largest slums in Lagos to validate information, which can help in
upgrading such slums. Essentially, this has helped in establishing effective strategies for
improving squatter and slum settlement in Nigeria since then (Ilesanmi, 2010). Despite this
effort, upgrading urban has remained challenging due to several factors. Notably, insufficient
finance is one of the critical issues affecting the process, and as a result, most slums have
remained in poor condition because of inadequate revenue for development (Olotuah, 2010).
Another challenge faceting urban upgrading is misunderstanding often causes of squatter
settlements, such as social inequality, unequal distribution of wealth, and limited application
Intervention in Urban Upgrading in Slum and Squatter Settlement
The Community Participation Approach
In this case, it believed that the community understands its needs better. It is then
essential to involve them in the process of upgrading urban. Therefore, the community should be
involved in several urban upgrading, especially in decision making (Olthuis et al., 2015). The
team in charge should consult the community on certain areas that require their knowledge and
understanding as this can enhance the effective outcome of the process. Studies suggest that
participation in the process is less meaningful if the participants do not have full control over the
decision of their organization (Bobadoye & Fakere, 2013). More importantly, achieving effective
participation is often achieved through decentralization and de-concentration.
Community involvement in upgrading the informal settlement should be perceived as an
essential resource for improvement. Lately, the demand for local involvement in slums
improvement has increased (Ado-Ekiti, 2015). Many have realized the essence of the community
involvement in squatter and slum upgrading. Essentially, land sharing is one of the strategies that
have helped them in improving the overall improvement of squatter and slums in various slums
in Nigeria (Olthuis et al., 2015). More importantly, community involvement in upgrading slums
seeks to avoid taking community responsibilities. Thus, it provides the community with the
opportunity to participate in various activities in improving the slum and squatter settlement.
Essentially, this also helps in the maintenance of the upgraded settlements as it empowers the
community on the importance of improvement to the areas of agreement (Alkali, 2005). Also,
the involvement of the community in the process of upgrading informal settlements does not
interfere with their socio and economic life. Moreover, it encourages the spirit of self-help
among the residents as it helps them to determine preferences and priorities.
Government Intervention in urban upgrading
Over the years, the government has tried various approaches in finding possible solutions
to upgrading the slum and squatter settlements (Olotuah, 2010). However, improving the
informal settlement in the various cities in Nigeria has remained an area of concern as it has not
been addressed appropriately to date. The government has adopted two approaches for upgrading
slums and squatter settlements in Nigeria (Pugalis, Giddings, & Anyigor, 2014). One of the two
strategies is settlement upgrading, which involves upgrading the squatter by the resident of the
area. In this case, the government allows the settlers to continue residing in their fields but
ensuring that they have improved the infrastructure and services in their field of residence. In
most cases, the settlement upgrading approach is used upon reaching a compromise by the
landowner on sharing the land (Olthuis et al., 2015). However, in a situation where compromises
are not settled amicably, the settlers are often relocated to another place, with a variety of sites
and services provided with land lease. Notably, this is referred to as sites-and-services upgrading.
SLUM AND SQUATTER UPGRADING IN LAGOS NIGERIAN 8
Currently, there is no universal quick-fix to solving various problems affecting squatter
settlement in various countries around the globe. When the inevitability of the squatting is taken
into consideration, the reason for upgrading the squatter settlement is to change the attitude of
people towards squatting. As such, the government has given attention to the "enabling"
approach, which seems to be effective than the latter. In this case, the government ensures that it
provides its people with an enabling environment for utilizing their resources; thus, offering
them opportunities to seek solutions for their housing and shelter problems.
Improving sanitation and water supply within slums and squatter settlements can also
upgrade the informal settlement in various urban areas in Nigeria. This intervention involves
digging boreholes and construction of community toilets. Importantly, this should be done
following the best architectural designs by ensuring that the constructions are not substandard
(Pugalis, Giddings, & Anyigor, 2014). Substantially, this can also increase the overall health of
the people living in slums due to a reliable source of water and improved sanitation. Also, the
government should develop a policy that encourages community participation. As mentioned
earlier, the involvement of the community in upgrading the squatter settlement has a significant
impact to the outcome. Besides, during urban upgrading, the architectures should ensure that
their constructions can sustain both low income and high-income earners in the slums (Ado-
Ekiti, 2015). As such, while designing the housing for the low-income earners, the architecture
should be in a position to understand what the low-income earners need. This can only be
achieved by allowing community participation in urban upgrading.
Effectiveness of the Strategies of Urban Squatter Settlement Upgrading In Lagos
As mentioned earlier, there are several strategies established by the Nigerian government
to upgrade the slum and squatter sentiment in various urban areas. Some of the approaches have
proved while others have worked since they were initiated. This indicates effectiveness in such
approaches. Notably, the effectiveness of such approaches is portrayed in different ways by the
success of various activities in line with such strategies. Notably, several government agencies in
Nigeria have often expressed their interests in providing housing for masses in the country
(Ugochukwu, & Chioma, 2015). Notably, this emerged after an increase in the need for housing
in Nigeria due to rapid population growth, especially in urban areas.
Interestingly, the Nigerian government eventually planned for housing provision for the
individuals living in slums and squatters. Consequently, the government had constructed
approximately 618 498 public housing schemes between the years 1962 and 2010 (Bobadoye &
Fakere, 2013). Notably, this indicates the government's potential in solving the endless problem
of slums and squatter settlement in most of its urban centers. Also, the Nigerian government has
recently made housing afforded to most of the low-income earners through the National Housing
and Urban Development policy, which was implemented in the year 2002 (Mardeusz, 2014).
Essentially, this policy has enabled low-income earners to gain access to decent housing since its
implementation. According to this policy, no Nigerian is expected to pay more than 20 percent of
their salaries on housing. Incredibly, this policy has allowed many Nigerians, especially the low-
income earners, to enjoy privileges of good housing.
Besides, the government ensures that the community is involved in designing housing in
various slums and squatter settlements to help to identify their needs in the process of upgrading
accommodation. As such, many architectural designs are done in a manner that makes housing
affordable to many low-income earners in the country. As a result, many low-income earners in
Nigeria have access to good housing due to this strategy. Moreover, the Nigerian government has
recently improved infrastructure in various urban areas in Nigeria. Essentially, the Nigerian is
SLUM AND SQUATTER UPGRADING IN LAGOS NIGERIAN 9
currently subsidizing various infrastructures in urban areas. This has increased the living
standards of most of the low-income earners in the country. Some of the areas where the
Nigerian government has played useful roles in upgrading informal settlement in the country
Poverty reduction and Economic Empowerment
Poverty is one of the challenges facing most urban areas in Nigeria lately. Notably, this is
also one of the reasons to slow economic development into various slums in Nigeria. Owing to
this is the fact that the number of low-income earners is relatively high (Alagbe, 2006).
However, through poverty eradication and economic empowerment, there are changes in most
slums areas. There are several business activities in slums; thus, boosting the country's economy
(Mardeusz, 2014). Since the emergence of the democratic government, the Nigerian government
reduced powered and empowered most of the people living in various slums within the country.
The government established a National Poverty Eradication Program (NAPEP), which has also
helped in eradicating poverty in various slums (Ugochukwu, & Chioma, 2015).
Ensuring Environmental Sustainability
There are several reforms made by the Nigerian government to provide a sustainable
environment for the people living in a slum. Such reforms have helped in the provision of fresh
and clean water in various squatter and slums in Nigeria. The National Water Policy
implemented in 2003 has improved living condition on various slums within Nigeria (Mardeusz,
2014). Essentially this has helped many slum dwellers Nigeria to have a reliable, clean, and fresh
source of water. Also, the establishment of the Sustainable Cities Program has helped in
environmental protection and preservation in most cities in Nigeria (Adebayo & Iweka, 2014).
These programs have also helped improve sanitary conditions in many urban areas in Nigeria. As
a result, this has improved public health in many cities in Nigeria.
Good Governance and Development
The Nigeria government has realized the importance of good towards national
development, and as such, the government thrives on ensuring proper management while
conducting urban upgrading. The Nigerian government also emphasizes on providing political
stability to promote national development (Pugalis, Giddings, & Anyigor, 2014). Also, the
government ensures that there are transparency and accountability in both the public and private
Housing is an essential need of life regardless of the socio-economic condition of an
individual. Despite this fact, housing remains a concern in Nigeria, owing to this is the fact that
Nigeria has a rapidly growing population compared to the rate of housing provision in the
country. Studies suggest that even at percent, the country still does not have enough housing to
sustain the ever-growing population, especially in Lagos. However, increased in slum and
squatter settlement in Nigeria is closely associated with factors, such as poverty, negligence of
building, scarcity of land, illiteracy, and poor application of sanitary laws. However, there are
some strategies put in place to upgrade slum and squatter settlement in Nigeria. Some of such
strategies include; conventional informal settlement upgrading, community involvement, and
relocation upgrade. Essentially, the invention of these approaches in urban improvement has had
a significant impact on urban transformation in Nigeria. The intervention of these strategies in
urban development has improved the living standards of the people living in the slums. Also,
urban upgrading has improved the economy of various slums and Nigeria; thus, increasing the
SLUM AND SQUATTER UPGRADING IN LAGOS NIGERIAN 10
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