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The Effects of Rural-Urban Migration in Lagos, Nigeria

Every choice in this community is defined by the urgent need for survival. For the people of Badia, life is an unending struggle against the increasing challenges of hunger and poverty. They live in a country which ranks 152 out of 187 on the United Nations Human Development Index and which has one of the world’s highest birth rate.


Overpopulation has long been an issue for Nigeria. Thousands of people migrate from the countrysides and across Africa into Lagos daily, in search of work.

A cross section of busy Oshodi market in Lagos Nigeria.

The city’s rising population is putting massive pressure on housing, and the lack of it is the direct result of why places like Badia exists. Most of the people in Badia have left. They have moved on to other slums, like Ajegunle and Makoko. But some hard-pressed families are still in Badia today, either sleeping in the remains of their homes or struggling even to find space to lay their beds.

Getty image/Lagos, Nigeria.

In recent years, however, with shanties built on illegal grounds, demolition, and forced evictions have become fiercer and more regular at Badia.

According to Amnesty International, the State government demolished the homes of almost 10,000 of the slum’s population in February 2013 and September 2015 consecutively with a devastating loss of life and livelihood.

“We have limited access to water, and sewage facility is non-existent. Most of all, some people who were petty traders have lost their businesses.”

Causes Of Rural-Urban Migration

The factors that cause rural-urban migration are divided into two major groups known as PUSH or PULL factors. The push factors are those conditions in the rural areas that compel people to leave, while the pull factors are those things in the urban areas that attract people in the rural areas. These push and pull factors include the following:

1. Lack of Social Amenities

Absence of social amenities like good roads, electricity, pipe-borne water, hospitals etc. contribute in compelling people to leave the rural areas.

2. Availability of Recreational Facilities in the Urban Areas

Many people especially the youths leave rural areas to cities where they can find recreational facilities like stadia, swimming pools, cinemas, amusement parks etc.

3. Higher Education

The need for higher education make many people to migrate to urban areas where majority of our higher institutions like universities, polytechnics and colleges of education are located.

4. Employment Opportunities

Many people move to urban areas for meaningful employment opportunities that they might not have access to in rural areas.

5. Marriage

Newly married ladies whose husbands are in urban areas leave their base in order to go and live with their husbands.

6. Business Activities

Those in the rural areas who have business intentions move to urban areas where the business action is.

7. Natural Disaster

Natural disasters like outbreak of diseases, erosion, earthquake etc, may push people away from rural areas to cities.

8. Ostracism

If one is kept at arms length by members of his community for any reason, one of the options left to that person is to migrate to urban areas that is made up of people from different areas.

9. Political Reasons

A person may move from rural area to urban area considered as a point of political activities, in order to participate fully in politics.

Consequences of Rural-Urban Migration

1. Uneven Distribution of Population

The urban areas become densely populated at the expense of rural areas.

2. Congestion

Many urban areas are today congested as a result of mass movement of rural residents into them. More people are now chasing the few houses in urban areas which leads to increase in rents.

4. Escalation of Unemployment

Many unemployed people reject job offers in rural areas and move to cities thereby worsening the unemployment situation.

5. Increase in Crime Rate

Many unemployed people who moved away from the rural areas to cities with the hope of getting employment take to crime when their hopes are dashed in order to keep body and soul together.

6. Agriculture is Greatly Affected

The able-bodied people move to urban areas leaving children and the aged behind in the rural areas to practise agriculture.

7. Increase in Price of Goods

The presence of many people, especially the unproductive, unemployed in the cities, low agricultural productivity, etc, are some of the contributory factors to increase in price of goods.

8. Disparity in Development

The dense population in the urban areas attracts more government attention at the expense of sparse population in the rural areas.

9. More Business Activities in Urban Centres

Densely populated areas like our cities are the focus of business activities because demand is always higher than in sparsely populated areas of the countryside.

10. Increase in Political Malpractices

Political violence is higher in urban areas because of the presence of many unemployed youths from rural areas who constitute ready tools used by the politicians in achieving their atrocious and selfish political aims.

How to Solve the Problem of Rural-Urban Migration in Lagos, Nigeria

1. Provision of Social Amenities to Rural Areas

The availability of social amenities in rural areas will discourage many people from migrating to urban areas.

2. Establishment of Industries in Rural Areas

This will provide jobs to rural residents and discourage them from leaving to cities in search of jobs.

3. Provision of Recreational facilities

If recreational facilities like stadia, swimming pools, cinemas, amusement parks etc, are made available in rural areas, they will reduce the propensity of our youths to move to urban areas.

4. Establishment of Higher Institutions In the Rural Areas

This will discourage rural-urban migration in the quest for higher education which can now be obtained in the rural areas.

5. Improved Agricultural System

If this is done, agriculture will be more attractive and many school leavers will take it as their occupation and stay in the rural areas instead of migrating to urban areas in search of white-collar jobs that are scarce.

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