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Eyes on Africa - Lagos, Nigeria - Makoko Floating Schools

Makoko, Nigeria

Makoko is a fishing village located in the Lagos Lagoon. Due to the weakness of the nearby soil and its proximity to water, much of Makoko rests on structures constructed on stilts above Lagos Lagoon. Traditionally this area has been self governing so schools are funded and provided by the village. 

The ingenious adaptation of building a structure that floats came from growing concerns with climate change and rising water levels. This adds to its versatility not just from an environmental standpoint but from a political and practical standpoint as well. The area of Makoko is consider a poor area and one of the slums of the city. The necessity to create a school that is not only low cost and sustainable but that also mobilizes as needed to serve the children of the village is significant. Additionally recent land reclamation efforts and commercial developments in the area have reclaimed much of the lagoon from the residents of Makoko. Their homes on stilts must be deconstructed and reassembled elsewhere, while the school’s maneuverability eliminates this process.  

Built in 2013 with locally sourced wood and electrically powered with solar panels, the floating construct is designed to house about 100 students and even has a playground and green space. It is entirely sustainable due to the application of solar cells to the roof and incorporating a rainwater catchment system. The structure is also naturally ventilated and aerated. The barrels used to help the structure float are also used as water reservoirs from the catchment system. The floating schools are an ingenious design that serves the needs of the community in a cost effective and eco-friendly way.


$2 Do-It-Yourself Solar Lamp Brings Better Light To Poor

by Michael Keller

When the sun goes down on almost 1.3 billion people around the world, the only respite from the darkness is fire. These are the people who have no access to electricity. If children want to study, or adults want to remain productive, or families want to sit and talk, most must do it by light of a flame.

But light sources like wood, candles, or hydrocarbons like kerosene oil, which was burnt at the rate of 38.7 million gallons a day in 2010, are far from the best solution. Combustion is dirty, releases toxic chemicals and can be expensive.

“A fifth of the world’s population earns on the order of $1 per day and lacks access to grid electricity,” wrote Evan Mills, a Lawrence Berkeley National Lab staff scientist, in the 2012 technical report Health Impacts of Fuel-Based Lighting. “They pay a far higher proportion of their income for illumination than those in wealthy countries, obtaining light with fuel-based sources, primarily kerosene lanterns. The same population experiences adverse health and safety risks from these same lighting fuels.”

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