Why Ilaje Bariga Community?
Ilaje fits the Western world’s image of a Third World poverty-stricken community. Located east of the Lagos lagoon, below the Third Mainland Bridge, and sandwiched between Akoka and Bariga end of the Lagos mainland, Ilaje meets the description of the word slum. Rich in squalor, densely populated, characterised by hovels and all sorts of substandard housings, dirt-poor economy, skyrocketing HIV prevalence, an absence of potable water––in all ramifications, the enclave is grossly representative of the sordid underbelly of an overpopulated Lagos with a glaring infrastructural deficit.
A walk through the streets––Bamiji Lawal, Araromi, Oyenaiye, Ayoola, Odelana, Alhaji Alimi, Ogbere and others––conveys a sense of precarious existence. Nowhere else is the maxim “life is a risk” truer than in this locality that is perennially under the threat of flood from the lagoon, such that at high tides, homes are submerged, and when the flood ebbs, the residual pools around homes are breeding ponds for mosquitoes that put the community at the risk of a never-ending malaria plague.
What they call homes are dreadful structures made mostly of woods. The foundations––of single straight woods––embedded in the lagoon, hoist the ground floor of the building a few feet above the water.
Typically, houses were built close to the water, until the prohibition by the state government of houses near a body of water, now forces them to build houses of bricks and cement blocks.
The aged and the unemployed dominate Ilaje’s demography. Worse still, most of those who boast of employment are engaged in unskilled, transient work, predominantly, clearing of construction sites and haulage services. Even the fishermen among them do not fare any better. Several months of the year, when fishing haul dwindles, they are unproductive and out of work and therefore cannot provide for their families. Others dabble in commercial transportation, eking a living as Danfo (bus) drivers and conductors with a few diversifying into operating Okada (motorcycle) and Keke Marwa (tricycle). You are likely to find someone from Ilaje taking up the kind of menial jobs most Lagosians reject. Sadly, the community also has a flood of children. Nearly every house has at least 10 young ones.
Ilaje is not occupied by indigenes alone. As a haven for all that has no hope, its legion of inhabitants is drawn from near and far––as far as Benin Republic, Togo, and Ghana. However, it is generally recognized as the abode of families who deal in fish business, and they firmly stamped their presence on the communities with their fishing activities. Any time of the day, the air is choky with smoking fish cloud that oozes from various parts of the community. Women, young and old, with bare, black, sweaty skins, can be seen busily turning the fish on the mesh over the fire, seemingly immune to the fumes that make other residents cough or bring tears to their eyes.
Youth Enlightenment, Youth Empowerment, Career Talk, Distribution of clothes, Distribution of other essential materials to children and adults were the key highlights of the bruderhilfe ilaje bariga intervention program that took place on Friday, 1st March, 2019.