New atlas sheds light on inequality in Nigeria

An example map showing women use trained birth attendents

An example map showing women use trained birth attendents

01 October 2010

New atlas sheds light on inequality in Nigeria

A researcher at the University of Sheffield has created a new online atlas ( which depicts Nigeria by its socio-demographic, economic and environmental information on a local level in the country.

The new website, which aims to provide spatial dimensions of local level inequality in the country, will be particularly useful for tracking and tackling the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other important policy programmes.

The atlas includes over 100 maps, charts and visuals, which will, for the first time, make it possible to view at a glance areas in which students are likely to be dissatisfied with the quality of teaching in school, the extent to which people fear crime in different areas, and which areas provide satisfactory health service.

Compiled by Dr Adegbola Ojo, while studying for a PhD at the University´s Department of Geography, the atlas will be launched today (1 October 2010) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nigeria´s independence from British Colonial rule. Since the country emerged as a sovereign state in 1960, the task of providing the public with timely and relevant socio-demographic, economic and environmental information about their residential areas at the Local Government Area (LGA) level has been very challenging. This lack of local spatial information reinforces the perpetuation of longstanding inequalities and uneven development in the country.

The main findings from the atlas include;

• More than 70% 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 a land or a home.

• The pattern of inequality among women who receive assistance from doctors during child birth 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.

Dr Adegbola Ojo said: "Information is both power and a public good. 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."

Dr 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.