A tripartite approach to social inclusion in selected slums in Lagos State, Nigeria

Oluwaseyi Omowunmi Popogbe (Department of Economics, Crawford University, Igbesa, Nigeria) (Department of Economics, University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria)
Simeon Oludiran Akinleye (Department of Economics, University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria)
David Mautin Oke (Department of Economics, University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria)

Review of Economics and Political Science

ISSN: 2631-3561

Article publication date: 17 October 2022

Issue publication date: 5 January 2023




This study aims to examine the social inclusiveness of slum dwellers by focusing on three key institutions which are social relations, government and the labour market. The literature emphasises the activities of these three institutions as indicators of social inclusion. Also, they accurately describe the social interactions of slum inhabitants at different levels.


Three large slums (Makoko, Ilaje and Iwaya) in Lagos State were purposively selected for this study. Using a multi-stage sampling technique, there was the first level of cluster sampling across the communities and second-level random sampling of household heads in the clusters. In all, 400 respondents were sampled but 388 valid responses were used for the analysis.


The study found minimal levels of inclusion in many of the indicators. However, Makoko had a higher degree of inclusion with respect to social relations and political participation compared to the other locations. Due to the poor level of governance, the resilience of slum dwellers has waned.

Research limitations/implications

The study was limited to three of the largest slums in Lagos State. Moreover, due to threats of eviction in recent times, many respondents were reluctant to provide adequate answers to some of the questions asked. However, the responses gotten were adequate to provide appropriate awareness and relevant recommendations.


The use of primary data made it possible for novel results to be generated on social inclusiveness in selected slums. The study extends the frontier of knowledge on social inclusion.



Popogbe, O.O., Akinleye, S.O. and Oke, D.M. (2023), "A tripartite approach to social inclusion in selected slums in Lagos State, Nigeria", Review of Economics and Political Science, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 2-18. https://doi.org/10.1108/REPS-06-2022-0040



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Oluwaseyi Omowunmi Popogbe, Simeon Oludiran Akinleye and David Mautin Oke


Published in Review of Economics and Political Science. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode

1. Introduction

Slums are fast becoming a present-day reality for urban cities due to the uncontrolled rise in globalisation and urbanisation. As a result, rising inequality, deteriorating environment, deficient urban services, poor hygiene and inadequate water supply, among others are major features of the slums (Cheema, 2020). These slums are largely occupied by migrants and non-nationals who come to settle in the city in order to have access to a better standard of living. Unfortunately, many of these people are excluded from economic, social and political participation; and thus, experience the unpalatable side of urbanisation (De Dong and Fernandez-Monge, 2020). They often suffer from social exclusion with little or no access to facilities enjoyed by those living in the highbrow areas of the city. Slum residents, who are already impoverished due to the multiple exclusions they face, become even poorer because social and community networks are barely provided (Cheema, 2020; Arimah, 2001). Additionally, the incapacity of the government to lessen social exclusion may cause disorder and insecurity among slum dwellers. This may threaten the safety of the larger population. Evidence of similar insecurity challenges are documented in the literature (Boudjadja and Boussouf, 2022; Engelke and Nordenman, 2014; Kyed, 2017).

The proportion of people living in urban slums in several Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries is around 60% of the total population (United Nations, 2017). Slums are widespread worldwide, and they are also present in North Africa. However, compared to SSA, North Africa has a slower pace of slum expansion. In total, 40% of urban residents in various North African nations reside in slums (Arimah, 2001). Specifically, 20% of the entire population in Egypt live in slums, 4% in Tunisia; and 10% in Morocco (Arimah, 2001; Hussein, 2015). These slum dwellers are often reluctant to leave their current residence despite numerous eviction threats, which is a situation that is similar to that in other slums on the African continent.

In Nigeria, the city with the largest slum settlements is Lagos State with about 66% of Lagosians living in slums (United Nations World Urbanisation Prospects, 2021). Africa has a high dependency ratio and many households have large family members (National Research Council, 2006). It is thus not surprising that households in the slums of Lagos State are large including numerous extended relatives. Many of the household heads have to struggle hard to fend for the family. Since these slum dwellers live in the city, relatives who live in remote areas may find it difficult to support the deprived in the city; since there is a general belief that those living in the city are richer than those in the rural settlements. Meanwhile, rural dwellers may be better off than urban slum dwellers because they have access to better amenities (non-crowded settlements, arable lands for farming and better environmental conditions) compared to slum dwellers in urban cities. Therefore, it is not unlikely that urban slum dwellers suffer lower social inclusion compared to rural dwellers. Indeed, this constant rise in underserviced slums in urban cities may imply “ruralisation” for the cities (Cheema, 2020).

The implementation of urban development initiatives frequently results in more marginalised neighbourhoods. This is a result of indications of informal settlements nearby developed areas. The Makoko slum, which is close to Lagos Island, is a good example (Ajayi et al., 2019a; Simon et al., 2013). The majority of individuals who live and work on Lagos Island are from the middle and higher classes; however, the majority of Makoko slum residents are extremely poor and have appalling living conditions (Ajayi et al., 2019a; Popogbe et al., 2021). The living conditions portray the low level of social inclusion slum residents enjoy.

Some broad dimensions of social inclusion that have been established in the literature are social and cultural inclusion, political participation inclusion and labour market inclusion (Arimah, 2010; Bangwayo-Skeete and Zikhali, 2011; Jehoel-Gijsbers and Vrooman, 2007; Majeed and Liaqat, 2019). Although it is well understood that the participation of slum dwellers in the labour force is largely informal and characterised by low wages (Ajayi et al., 2019b; Morakinyo et al., 2012; Sheng et al., 2018; Pawar and Mane, 2013), the roles of social institutions and the government are rather ambiguous, and without a common knowledge in the literature. It has been observed that despite the acceptance of democracy, the governance process in many countries is still autocratic in nature. Sadly, the most disadvantaged are women, children and non-nationals (Varieties of Democracy, 2018). On the other hand, some studies have reported the roles of the government in the economy (Salim and Drenth, 2020). This study, therefore, seeks to understand the roles of family members, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governance and the labour market in ensuring social inclusion for slum dwellers in some selected slums in Lagos State. These slums have been carefully selected as they are densely populated and form part of the largest slums situated in Lagos State (World Bank, 2006).

Lagos State is the largest and fastest-growing city in Africa (Kazeem, 2016). However, the relevance of this study in Lagos State cannot be underestimated. The United Nations Population Division (2012) have estimated that by 2030, over 55% of the developing countries' population will live in the city; while 66% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Furthermore, a severe threat to human survival as well as the sustainability of life on Earth has been established by the patterns of urban development and human activity that are currently occurring in Lagos State (Simon et al., 2013). The majority of Lagos State's terrain is bad because so much of the area is only 5 meters above sea level. As a result, there are additional issues with poor drainage and a lack of firm land on which to construct and install the essential municipal infrastructure. Due to the government's failure to meet the demand for housing, a large proportion of the urban poor build shanties along waterfronts as a temporary housing alternative (Ajayi et al., 2014). All these have continued to blight the beauty of the city.

From the foregoing, it is, therefore, paramount to proactively ensure social inclusion for urban slum dwellers. This study is, therefore, timely and germane to the current realities of urbanisation in Lagos State. The remaining sections of this article consist of a brief literature review, the methodology, analysis and conclusion from the study.

2. Literature review

The concept of social inclusion is multidimensional in nature. However, broadly speaking, it has been regarded as an equal opportunity for all citizens to fully participate in their society (European Commission, 2004). Social inclusion also refers to the access to development benefits and public services by all members of society such that outcomes lead to better human conditions (Cheema, 2020). Thus, irrespective of socioeconomic or ethnic status, all should be allowed participation in society (Henderson and Barnes, 2015). On the other hand, slums have basically been used to describe settlements where people live under substandard economic and social conditions. Slums are also known as informal settlements; often overcrowded, without proper waste disposal systems, inadequate housing and other appalling living conditions (Morakinyo et al., 2012; Popogbe et al., 2021). Many such informal settlements are prevalent in neglected parts of developing countries where public services are scarcely made available to citizens (Mahabir et al., 2016). It is, therefore, important to conscientiously ensure social inclusion for slum dwellers. This is because continuous exclusion will lead to further environmental degeneration and contaminable disease for urban dwellers (Morakinyo et al., 2012).

Many dimensions of social inclusion have been discussed in the literature. Although there is no consensus on the number and nature of dimensions to be used, three basic dimensions have been emphasised. These dimensions include social, political and economic participation (Jehoel-Gijsbers and Vrooman, 2007). These dimensions were also emphasised in the study by Henderson and Barnes (2015). The study noted that access to social support, engagement and participation and empowerment would enhance social inclusion. Proper governance and social institutions have also been noted to enforce social inclusion (Cheema, 2020; Mahabir et al., 2016).

Governance is a process which involves three main actors: the state, the private sector and civil organisations (Cheema, 2020). The role of civil society in governance cannot be overemphasised because the government do not have all the wherewithal to provide for the needs of citizens. Local governance ensures inclusiveness only if it is inclusive and participatory. In examining the connection between local governance and hindrances to political and social exclusion in Indonesia, Salim and Drenth (2020) asserted that the central government provide the local government with needed funding and policies on improving slums. Respondents from one of the communities sampled opined that the provision of public services is often politicised. On the other hand, some other respondents in the second community asserted that a lack of trust in government and law implementation inconsistencies have greatly impaired the political participation of the residents. Salim and Drenth (2020) thus recommended the need for Indonesia to engage intermediaries (such as community leaders and activists) so as to interface between the government and the marginalised groups.

Goswami and Manna (2013) opined that this can be done by NGOs conducting mass sensitisation programmes of available schemes which slum dwellers can benefit from. Similarly, Nidhi (2021) found that slum dwellers have always been faced with discrimination in the struggle for inclusion. This is because they are underprivileged and, oftentimes, suffer the most deprivation. The study, therefore, opined that providing a livelihood framework is a starting point for putting an end to urban poverty. The study by Ajayi et al. (2019c) further complemented this proposition. The study showed that Makoko slum dwellers would accept a slum upgrade only if their rights of occupancy are guaranteed. Therefore, the provision of better living standards must be complemented by the security of tenure.

Another challenge encountered by slum dwellers is poor urban governance. This stems from an inability to meet the needs of slum residents, especially with respect to public amenities (Mahabir et al., 2016; Morakinyo et al., 2012). Slum dwellers have to settle in areas with low-security tenure which is relatively affordable for them rather than accessing areas with highly established property rights. The government is often times unwilling to provide urban services to slum residents because of the fear of further proliferation of the slums. In reality, they frequently issue eviction notices to slum inhabitants so that the occupied space can be used for other developmental purposes at the expense of the slum dwellers (Ajayi et al., 2019a, b; Ajayi and Soyinka-Airewele, 2020). Ironically, despite various evictions and continued neglect of these vulnerable members of the society in Lagos State, slum proliferation is still on the rise. Thus, it is important for the government to take proactive steps in responding to urbanisation and incorporating the urban poor in urban planning (Morakinyo et al., 2012).

Despite the economic relevance of informal settlements in providing services that serve both the immediate environment and the city as a whole, very minimal attention has been given to slums' resettlement from the angle of their economic enterprise (Sheng et al., 2018). This is because slum dwellers are basically providers of cheap labour, and their inclusion in the labour market is, therefore, restricted to the quality of skills they possess (Morakinyo et al., 2012). Furthermore, the conditions around their jobs are often unfavourable (van de Heijden et al., 2019). As a result, the advantages they receive from their jobs are constrained, and they have limited access to lending facilities. The empirical study by Sajuyigbe (2017) further revealed that ensuring financial and social inclusion for women-owned enterprises enhanced the performance of the business.

Meanwhile, contrary to popular misconception, many slum dwellers do not simply remain there because they like the environment; rather, they do so for socioeconomic reasons (Ajayi et al., 2019c). Consequently, the use of cooperative groups to empower slum residents has been advocated (Tripathi and Agarwal, 2013). Their study asserted that the role of cooperative societies in slums may need to be strategically planned if success will be achieved in such an unstructured environment. It is, therefore, important to begin to place priority on the livelihoods of slum dwellers in the discourse of slum upgrade and inclusion. Oghenekohwo (2014) discussed the role of Community and Social Development Project (CSDP) in achieving upgrades. They found that CSDP could eliminate social exclusion through a more strategic reaction to wealth creation and social development projects among rural residents. Adedayo and Malik (2014) further revealed that urban renewal tends to positively impact the lives of slum dwellers. Living standards would improve as provision of potable water, waste management and proper health care services are provided to residents.

The effect of social inclusion has also been shown by some empirical research. Majeed and Liaqat (2019) and d'Errico et al. (2018) revealed that social inclusion can significantly improve health standards. Specifically, the study by Majeed and Liaqat (2019), which is cross-sectional in nature covered 180 countries. The findings showed that various social associations, and gender equality favourably impacted people's health. This is further supported by d'Errico et al. (2018). However, their study focused on some regions in Senegal. Their findings showed that social inclusion and well-being support household resilience.

On another hand, Menon et al. (2015) examined altruism and social inclusion for young offenders in North and South Italy. The study found that socioeconomic characteristics are significant determinants of social inclusion in only South Italy and not North Italy. Interestingly, some people are willing to pay for social investment initiatives in order to gain from social inclusion. Social benefits which result from social inclusion have also been discussed in the literature. According to Wang and Wang (2019), compared to non-indigenes, indigenous people are more likely to experience social benefits. Additionally, their research showed that those with better educational status are more likely to be socially included.

3. Methodology

3.1 Study area

Although Lagos State is the smallest state in Nigeria, it occupies an area of 3,577 km, out of which 22% is water. It is projected to have a population size of 15 million (National Population Commission, 2022). It is the epitome of Nigeria's fast-growing process of urbanisation with numerous slum settlements located in it (Lagos Bureau of Statistics, 2014). The modern economic, social and political forces in interaction with a traditional culture uniquely differentiate life in Lagos State from that of rural areas. Lagos State was the capital of Nigeria from 1914 till 1991 before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) became the capital (Simon et al., 2013).

The red points in Figure 1 reveal the biggest coastal slums in Lagos State. Makoko and Iwaya are both located in Yaba Local Government Area. The Third Mainland Bridge is located on the Southern side and to the Eastern side is the Lagos Lagoon. Both communities are inhabited by various ethnic groups, but largely by Egun-speaking natives. Ilaje community is domiciled in Bariga Local Government Area, with close proximity to the Third Mainland Bridge (Okorowa, 2019).

3.2 Sampling technique

Sedgwick (2013) noted that the multi-stage sampling technique is a feasible technique in studies involving the selection of households from various communities. The first sampling stage carried out in this study involved cluster sampling of densely populated streets in each of the selected slums (this is the primary sampling unit). The second stage involved a random selection of households in each of the clusters (secondary sampling units). The community leaders in each of the slums were helpful in the process of this selection. Thus, 100 respondents were selected from Makoko; 150 from Iwaya; and another 150 from Ilaje. Altogether, 400 survey questionnaires were filled but 12 of these were inadequately filled. As a result, 388 appropriately filled questionnaires were used for the analysis. Only household heads who could provide needed information were interviewed in the survey in order to reduce survey bias.

The study also took several ethical issues into consideration. Before beginning the fieldwork, the community leaders (“Baale”) were met for their consent. Also, the purpose of the research was made known to the respondents and only those willing to participate were further questioned. The researchers designed a structured questionnaire in order to generate responses relevant to the study. The questionnaire was divided into two major sections: the demographic/socioeconomic information section and the social inclusion questions' section. To comprehend the overall socioeconomic and demographic data of the respondents, the first section was essential. The second section's questions were developed based on the literature's discourse on the roles of social relations, government and the labour market in social inclusion. Four enumerators who could speak the Yoruba Language (an indigenous language spoken in Nigeria) took part in the survey. The questions were read out to respondents in Yoruba Language and corresponding answers were ticked/noted. An interpreter from the community interpreted questions in the Egun Language (spoken by most of the residents of the slums) for respondents who could not fully comprehend the questions in Yoruba.

3.3 Estimation technique

Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were carried out to achieve the objectives of this study. The descriptive statistics reflect the responses to the main questions about the level of inclusion of slum residents and show the socioeconomic characteristics of the respondents. The logistic regression was carried out to analyse the socioeconomic factors that impacted inclusion. This technique is relevant because no assumption of this technique has restricted distribution (Ettah et al., 2020). The logistic regression function is given as follows:

where Logit(Pi) is the probability that a household i is socially included or not.
  • β0 is the constant

  • xi is the vector explaining the explanatory variables

  • The explicit form of the model is given as follows:

  • β1-β7 are the coefficients

  • x1-x7 are the explanatory variables, viz: age, gender, years of formal education, years of living in community, household group, employment status and household composition

  • µi is the error term

4. Presentation of results and discussions

4.1 Descriptive statistics

The socioeconomic characteristics of respondents are presented in Table 1. This section is crucial since it provides details on the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of survey participants.

Although more males participated in the survey in Makoko, more females took part in the survey in Iwaya and Ilaje. Most respondents in Makoko are aged 25 and below and 26–35; while more of the respondents in Iwaya and Ilaje are middle-aged, with their age brackets falling between 26–35 and 36–45. Many of the respondents are married while very few are still single, separated or widowed. With respect to the household size, it was observed that the majority had households comprising 5–7 members, this is, however, very vivid at Makoko. Many also had a relatively small household size of four members and below. Further investigation revealed these smaller households contained a newly-married couple or a group of siblings living together with the eldest taking care of the family.

Across all locations, most of the respondents have a formal education of 6 years and below. It has also been reported in the literature that many slum dwellers have little or no formal education (Mishra and Banerjee, 2020). This implies that the majority had only a primary school education. While few had tertiary education in Iwaya and Ilaje, none had in Makoko. The fishing business is prominent in Makoko, thus a majority of respondents fell into this class of occupation. However, in Iwaya and Ilaje, petty trading is prominent with very few of them being civil service providers. Many across the locations are also artisans such as plumbers, carpenters, painters, welders, etc.

In understanding how long respondents have lived in the slums, a majority in Makoko and Iwaya claimed to have lived in their communities for 11–15 years. In fact, across all the locations, most people have lived in the slums for over 5 years. Further investigation of those who claimed to have lived for 5 years and below in the community revealed that they had lived in other slums with similar living conditions. The daily income of respondents showed that the majority in Makoko and Ilaje earned N1000 ($2) and below a day while the majority earned between N1001 and N2000 ($2–$4) in Iwaya. Very few earned above N5000 ($10) a day in all the locations. This shows the majority of the respondents earned below the minimum wage of N30000 ($60) per month.

4.2 Assessment of the level of social relations' inclusion

One major dimension of social inclusion is social relations. Social relations in the African setting refer to immediate and extended family members and friends (Mafumbate, 2019). However, NGOs are beginning to connect with slum dwellers due to the periodic interventions they provide. NGOs supply offer relief materials and health services to people suffering from extreme poverty which improves the lifestyle of the poor in the slums (Sara and Mridha, 2021; Singh and Fatmi, 2017). Therefore, the role of NGOs was also considered in this study.

The likelihood of being supported by family members is presented in Table 2. In total, 52% of respondents at Makoko would “most likely” be supported by family members and friends. Similarly, 47% of respondents at Iwaya opined that family members and friends would “likely” provide support when approached. This response was provided in light of previous support which residents have received. However, the opposite applies in Ilaje. In total, 43% of the respondents asserted that they were “unlikely” to receive support. Therefore, most respondents had to fend for themselves without any form of aid from external relatives. In Makoko and Iwaya slums, it was observed that most respondents spoke the Egun language and this language homogeneity must have influenced the residents to have a sense of togetherness. Also, the majority of respondents in Makoko are into the fishing business which could have further influenced them to have a business relationship with one another. This would also foster support amongst them. The non-support is rather extreme in Ilaje where respondents opined that other relatives living outside Lagos State also depended on them for help. On the other hand, their friends who live around rarely aided them when they are in dire need. This is rather contrary to the findings of Mafumbate (2019) (Table 2).

Another indicator of the social relations' inclusion considered in this study is the degree of support from NGOs. NGOs have been pivotal in welfare provision in Lagos State slums (Ozulumba, 2021; Vanguard, 2020). In examining the frequency of support from these organisations, most respondents (34% in Makoko and Iwaya, respectively) noted that they often received support. Indeed, many of them noted that NGOs provided support (at least once a year or during festive seasons) in the form of clothing and provision of food items. At Ilaje, over 60% of the respondents opined they did not get any form of support from NGOs (Table 3). Egun, Ilaje and Yoruba make up three of the native groups in the Ilaje slum settlement. The Egun-speaking natives in the Ilaje community are largely into the fish business. The income from such business is low compared to other forms of trading as prevalent in the Ilaje and Yoruba settlements. This might have been the reason for higher NGOs' intervention in only the Egun slum settlement (Ago Egun as commonly called). Other monthly and quarterly supports were in form of free health care services available to the aged in the communities. An investigation into the form of support received from the NGOs showed that relief items distributed were household items (clothes, bags, shoes, etc.) that many respondents already possessed. A respondent at Makoko specifically noted that she was wary of receiving clothing materials from NGOs because she already had enough. In her opinion, it would be better if other income-generating interventions are provided for slum dwellers. This may imply that only a few people are better off by the interventions currently provided by the NGOs.

The issue of insecurity as a social factor was also examined. It is commonly reported that slums are bee hives for delinquents who frequently engage in fights and chaos (Ekpenyong and Mathias, 2019; Ige and Nekhwevha, 2014). In order to understand the degree of communal chaos, the respondents were asked how often they experienced such chaos. The distribution of respondents is presented in Table 4. At Makoko, 78% of the respondents asserted that they “never” experienced chaos inside the community. Due to the arrangement of housing structures in the slums, all the houses are raised on stilts above the water and movement within the slum is through the use of a canoe. Thus, the chaos that will lead to people running helter-skelter was minimal. In total, 51% of Ilaje slum residents also asserted they “never” experienced communal chaos. All these are contrary to the findings by Ekpenyong and Mathias (2019). On the other hand, 51% of respondents at Iwaya noted they “always” experienced chaos. Although Iwaya and Makoko have close proximity to each other, Iwaya slum is not situated on stilts and this could have aided the violent acts that are sometimes experienced.

4.3 Political organisation and participation

The assessment of political inclusion was examined from two major perspectives. The first is the level of participation of respondents in political activities and the second is the reciprocal action of political leaders.

Table 5 shows the response of respondents with respect to their level of participation in political activities; 72% (which is the majority) of respondents at Makoko opined that they participated to “a great extent”. A large number of respondents at Iwaya (65%) answered negative. However, 44% of respondents at Ilaje opined that they participated in politics “to a small extent”, while 38% participated to “a great extent”. Further investigation at Iwaya revealed that many respondents felt they were being disenfranchised by the government, which led to a lack of interest in politics. Some of those who noted minimal participation in politics in Ilaje opined that they had lived in the community for long periods but were yet to enjoy infrastructural amenities from the government. On the other hand, others opined that they belonged to the “minority group” and did not think their opinion would count. In order to understand the sense of fulfilment that comes with participation in politics, 76% and 62% of respondents in Makoko and Ilaje, respectively, answered “yes”, they felt fulfilled. On the other hand, 60% of respondents in Iwaya replied negative. This is not surprising considering the level of their participation in politics as aforementioned. This outcome is also similar to that of Menon et al. (2015).

The second perspective of the level of political participation is the reciprocal actions of the government. Given the susceptibility of the slums to natural disasters and other challenges the slum dwellers encounter, an enquiry into the possibility of getting support from the government was done and the distribution of responses is presented in Table 6. In total, 62% of respondents at Makoko revealed that the government would “likely” provide support in the case of a natural disaster. On the other hand, 78% and 66%, respectively, of respondents in Iwaya and Ilaje opined that the government was “unlikely” to render support. This response was given based on previous interventions provided by the government. Thus, in the past, the government responded faster to environmental disasters (such as fire outbreaks and flooding) in Makoko compared to Ilaje and Iwaya.

4.4 Labour market inclusion

The inclusiveness of the slum dwellers with respect to their participation in the labour market was examined as the third dimension of social inclusion. Enquiries were made about the nature of the training they undergo, the satisfaction they find in their jobs and policies that inhibited participation in the labour market. According to Sheng et al. (2018) and Ajayi et al. (2019a), slum dwellers are largely engaged in the informal labour market. However, periodic training and education can help to improve their skill and productivity.

Table 7 reveals the frequency with which the respondents upgrade their skills by going for training. In total, 96% of respondents at Iwaya never attended training to improve their skills and this community had the lowest level of inclusion in this regard. At Ilaje and Makoko, the percentage distributions are 88% and 82%, respectively. This shows that the majority of the respondents do not require training due to the nature of their occupation and they do not bother to acquire other skills that can enhance their productivity. This was revealed in the responses provided when asked about the likelihood of acquiring skills in the upcoming year. Across all the communities, “no” was selected by the majority of the respondents.

Table 8 shows the level of satisfaction of respondents with their current job. A total of 50% of respondents at Makoko opined they were “satisfied” while 50% opined they were “not satisfied”; 36% of respondents at Iwaya noted they were “satisfied” while a greater proportion (64%) noted they were “not satisfied”. At Ilaje, 66% opined being “satisfied” and 34% noted, “not satisfied”. A comparison of their satisfaction level with their skill acquisition shows that the level of low skill acquisition and low job satisfaction was highest at Iwaya compared to the other two locations. Despite the level of poor satisfaction with their jobs, many respondents have not considered going for a skill acquisition programme to improve their productivity. The major occupation of Makoko dwellers is fishing and many of the respondents are comfortable with this. Again, this is due to the topography of Makoko such that fishing is made easy. This leaves the residents with fewer occupation alternatives.

The respondents were further asked if labour laws and policies hindered their participation in the labour market. Remarkably, most of the respondents replied “no”. In fact, 90% of respondents at Makoko noted that their activities were not hindered by any labour law; 69% and 51% of respondents at Iwaya and Ilaje noted no law or policy impacted their activities. However, some respondents replied in the negative, noting that some laws do not ensure their inclusion but rather, exclude them from the labour market. Some of such policies include the payment of some statutory fees which are sometimes unaffordable and negatively impact their businesses (bearing in mind the inconstant flow of income by the informal sector workers). This is also in line with the findings of Sajuyigbe (2017). However, it is remarkable that a significant number of respondents do not feel these policies are a stumbling block to their jobs (Table 9).

4.5 Empirical evidence on socioeconomic factors that impact social inclusion

Table 10 presents the socioeconomic factors that influenced the level of social inclusion in the slums. The Pseudo R2 of 0.241 reveals that the explanatory variables estimated explained 24% of variations in the dependent variable, that is, social inclusion. The likelihood ratio statistics is also significant at 1% indicating that all the variables included in the model are jointly significant in determining the social inclusion of the respondents. The “age” predictor of social inclusion is negative and significantly positive [β = −0.049, S.E., 0.016, p = 0.002]. Thus, the probability of being socially included reduces as a respondent advances in age. This implies that younger people have a higher likelihood of being socially included. On the other hand, the possibility of males being socially included is positive and significant [β = 1.667, S.E., 0.305, p = 0.000]. Therefore, the log odds of being socially included in this category are predicted to increase by 1.667. This is, however, contrary to the findings of Menon et al. (2015). Their study found a significant relationship between only gender and family structure and social inclusion. The third significant variable is the unemployed category of employment status. A unit increase in unemployment increases social inclusion by 2.4%. This relationship is, however, significant at 10%. This implies that those who are unemployed have a higher likelihood of being socially included. From the model specified, other variables such as gender, years of living in the community, household size, years of formal education and household composition have no significant relationship with social inclusion. However, Wang and Wang (2019) revealed that formal education has a positive and significant relationship with social inclusion.

5. Conclusion and recommendation

The current study examined the roles of social relations, governance and labour market in ensuring social inclusion for slum dwellers. The result shows varying perceptions of inclusion from various perspectives. Specifically, residents in two of the locations studied (Iwaya and Ilaje) seemed to be less socially included compared to Makoko as the indicators measured revealed. Family, friends and NGOs rarely provided support to the residents of Iwaya and Ilaje slums, while support from NGOs was oftentimes in the provision of clothing materials which residents already possess. In the area of environmental serenity, the communities rarely encountered severe communal chaos which impact their economic activities. However, findings revealed that Makoko and Iwaya had a higher likelihood of inclusion in social relations compared to Ilaje.

In the area of political participation, Ilaje and Makoko had a higher level of inclusion; however, the possibility of the government providing a support system in the event of a disaster at Ilaje is smaller compared to Makoko. Responses from respondents at Iwaya showed poor political participation and low trust in governance. The relevance and participation of the slum dwellers in the labour market were focused on from the perspective of periodic training and understanding if there are existing laws which inhibit productivity and profitability. In all the locations under study, there is little interest on the part of respondents to learn new and relevant skills which can improve their productivity while a majority of respondents at Iwaya showed little satisfaction with their current employment. Remarkably, minimal policies and laws negatively impact the businesses of a few of the respondents in the study. This is possibly due to the informal nature of business of most slum dwellers which are always in demand. The study found that three major factors affected the likelihood of being socially included, namely, age, gender and employment status. Males, young people and the unemployed have a higher likelihood of being socially included. Many other factors examined do not however impact social inclusion in this study.

Based on the study's findings, it is advised that social relations maintain social inclusion by offering their relatives in the slums the support they require when they ask for it. The African culture of family support needs to be sustained to improve the well-being of slum dwellers. NGOs can provide adequate support by understudying the germane needs of slum residents before providing interventions. This will result in optimal use of their resources and residents will better appreciate this. It is also noteworthy that periodic free health-care services are provided by NGOs. This can be strengthened to improve the health of the slum dwellers. Grass root governments should adequately plan for the inclusion of slum dwellers so as to boost their trust in governance. This can be done through the provision of free education or other peculiar needs of the slums. Also, slum dwellers need to be sensitised about the need to periodically go for training that will enhance their productivity. Such training can be organised at subsidised fees for slum dwellers.

This study focused on social inclusion in a few chosen slums from the perspective of deprivation experienced. Further research can focus on the government and other social institutions' views on providing inclusion for the underprivileged in society. Also, urban slum upgrade is becoming a germane issue in the study of urban development, therefore, inclusiveness with respect to social services can be focused upon in further studies.


A Lagos State Map showing selected slums along the coastal line

Figure 1

A Lagos State Map showing selected slums along the coastal line

Socioeconomic characteristics of respondents

Age25 and below523426112
above 65041115
Marital StatusSingle272029
Household Number4 and below324139112
Above 10107522
Formal Education Attained6 and below8610066252
Above 12052429
OccupationFishing Business622817107
Petty trading105670136
Civil Service0257
Duration of living in community5 and below14373081
31 and above281727
Daily incomeN1000 and below533461148
N5001 and above88218

Source(s): Field Survey

How likely will family members provide support when needed?

Most likelyLikelyunlikelyTotal (%)

Source(s): Field Survey (2020)

How often do you receive support from an NGO?

Very oftenOftenNot oftenNoneTotal (%)

Source(s): Field Survey (2020)

How often do you experience communal chaos?

NeverSometimesAlwaysTotal (%)

Source(s): Field Survey (2020)

Describe the level of your participation in political activities

Great extent (%)Small extent (%)No participation (%)Total (%)

Source(s): Field Survey (2020)

In the case of extreme disaster, how likely will the government support?

Very likelyLikelyUnlikelyTotal (%)

Source(s): Field Survey (2020)

How often do you attend training for skill acquisition?

 SometimesNeverTotal (%)

Source(s): Field Survey (2020)

How satisfied are you with your current job?

SatisfiedNot satisfiedTotal (%)

Source(s): Field Survey (2020)

Does any labour law/policy negatively impact your productivity?

NoYesTotal (%)

Source(s): Field Survey (2020)

Socioeconomic factors that impact social inclusion

Social inclusionaBStd. ErrorWalddfSigExp(B)95% Confidence interval for Exp(B)
Lower boundUpper bound
[Gender = 1.00]1.6770.30530.17210.0005.3512.9419.736
[Gender = 2.00]0b 0
[EmpStatus = 1.00]−15.8153278.6130.00010.9961.354E-0070.000
[EmpStatus = 2.00]1.4271.0851.72810.1894.1650.49634.955
[EmpStatus = 3.00]2.3881.4442.73210.09810.8860.642184.630
[EmpStatus = 4.00]0b 0
[Composition = 1.00]16.4570.000 1 14030350.94614030350.94614030350.946
[Composition = 2.00]0b 0

Note(s): No of Obs: 388; LR χ2(9) 64.706; Prob > χ2 0.000; Pseudo R-square 0.241; a. The reference category is: 1.00; b. This parameter is set to zero because it is redundant; c. Floating point overflow occurred while computing this statistic. Its value is, therefore, set to system missing


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The authors would like to appreciate the anonymous reviewers for the scholarly review they provided. This has improved the outcome of this research.

Corresponding author

Oluwaseyi Omowunmi Popogbe can be contacted at: popogbeseyi@gmail.com

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