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Innocent Forba Nsorfon, Fellowship grant 2014

Exploring Social Vulnerability to Natural Disasters in Urban Informal Settlements in Lagos, Nigeria

Within the last decades, there has been an extreme increase in the number of natural disasters, especially striking urban settlements. Due these losses, efforts to advance human understanding of social sources of vulnerability were made in an attempt to reduce the high social and material loss. My research explored social sources of vulnerability to natural disaster with focus on floods in informal settlements of Lagos. Lagos is one of the fastest growing urban agglomerations in the world and about half of its population lives in these informal settlements, thereby exacerbating a high degree of vulnerability, especially among slum dwellers. My study was based on a comprehensive household survey (300 questionnaires), key informants interviews, and focused group discussions with stakeholders from both governmental and non-governmental organizations. The study examined the scale and frequency of flooding in these informal settlements and their impacts. Furthermore, the adaptation mechanisms of household and the community coping with the prevailing flood situation, as well as the institutional responses and adaptation measures were explored.

My findings indicated that coping and adaptation mechanisms exploited by slum dwellers depended upon the diversity and accessibility of the available options, economic affordability of the households and their level of social networking. The study also revealed that social capital plays a leading role in activating mutual help among neighbours and different networks. Based on the findings of my research, recommendations were made to enhance capacities and to reduce flood vulnerability in Lagos informal settlements.

The findings of my research, which will be published in international journals, provide vital information to reduce losses. Once more, I am sincerely grateful to the GSGS for this fellowship grant.


PhD student: Innocent Forba Nsorfon

Institute: Institute of Geography

Title of Research Project: “Exploring Social Vulnerability to Natural Disasters in Urban Informal Settlements - Perspectives from Flooding in the Slums of Lagos, Nigeria

Grant Period: July – December 2014

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Boris Braun

Defence: November 2014