Atlas pinpoints Nigerian inequality

U. SHEFFIELD (UK) — A new online atlas sheds light on inequality in Nigeria by depicting its socio-demographic, economic, and environmental information on a local level.

The new website is expected to be particularly useful for tracking and tackling the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other important policy programs.

Compiled by Adegbola Ojo while studying for his PhD at the University of Sheffield‘s department of geography, the atlas includes over 100 maps, charts, and visuals and commemorates the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from British Colonial rule.

Since the country emerged as a sovereign state in 1960, providing the public with timely and relevant socio-demographic, economic, and environmental information about residential areas at the Local Government Area (LGA) level has been very challenging, reinforcing longstanding inequalities and uneven development in the country.

The main findings from the atlas include:

  • More than 70 percent of children within Toiling Country Dwellings and Middle-class Country Dwellings are unlikely to be enrolled in school
  • Out of every 100 households in most areas, there are less than 10 where females own either land or a home.
  • The pattern of inequality among women who receive assistance from doctors during childbirth suggests that almost half of the country´s potential mothers will have to relocate from their current residences to other areas for a state of national equilibrium to be attained.

“Information is both power and a public good, Ojo says. “However, in many of the world´s developing countries, members of the public often do not have access to basic geographical and statistical information about their local residential areas.

“Sometimes key stakeholders and policy makers also find themselves making important decisions in the `dark´ without an adequate evidence base.

“The aim of the NIGECS project is to make this sort of information as widely accessible as possible, to help inform the work and activities of local policy makers, international partner agencies, academics, students and other stakeholders within the public, private and third sector.

“One of the strengths of this research is that it considers the dynamics of people and places using a spatial multi-criteria approach. This can be particularly helpful for strategic and intelligent decision-making especially at local level, the scale at which most needs are felt in Nigeria.”

Ojo hopes to deploy these analytical techniques to administrative areas of finer geographic scales within the country and roll out such systems and techniques to tackle spatial inequalities in other countries within the developing world.

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