Project description

This project led him to cast a spotlight on the waste situation in Lagos State, Nigeria.

So when Lagos, the commercial hub of Nigeria, the giant of Africa with a population of 180 million people began to experience waste littered over the city, he thought to himself that it must be reported. The implications of uncontrolled waste is the bane of illnesses before it spreads into an epidemic; killing large numbers of citizens in sight. Like Ebola and its wanton spread which killed hundreds and raised panic not only in Nigeria but also in other neighboring countries.

Most mega cities- New York inclusive have waste disposal problems; however they have been able to manage them. Lagos did well managing the refuse disposal system under Former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola with Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) at the helm of affairs. The emergence of current Governor Akinwunmi Ambode brought refuse disposal to an all-time-low. Even with the involvement of Visionscape, waste has continued to be a problem in Lagos. The resultant effect is the eyesore waste has become of recent, greeting you at every bus-stop in Lagos. Hence the story: “Lagos and the Growing Piles.”

The essence of this story was to push for better waste disposal systems and uncover the stories that led to the replacement of LAWMA with Visionscape. It was corruption inclined as well. Visionscape in itself has been likened to a shell company, having received an 85 billion naira fund to pack refuse littered all over the city. However, they were unable to do the job they were contracted to do, putting the previous stakeholders, Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) out of the jobs. Hence, factions were created and tried to stop Visionscape from doing their jobs out of frustration and unemployment. LAWMA\’s track record had been impressive under Former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola who is at current, Minister for Power, Works and Housing under President Buhari.

He began the investigation with a picture story which was depicting the sorry state of waste in Lagos. The story actually began to trend until BBC got wind of it however, that glory was short-lived as they got through to the Online Editor, Lekan Otufodunrin (now, former Online Editor) of the Nation Newspapers who had to pull the story down from the site since the Lagos State Government was not too happy with the story. Here is the re-written version story link:

This led Joseph to pursue a two month investigation that was later published on Pulse NG due to the sensitivity of the story and failure of many other Nigerian platforms to grant the story audience to be published on their site. Pulse NG published it here:
The new Pulse site doesn\’t have the pictures but the pictures for the story are encoded in a google map, which Pulse NG failed to attach to the story after it was pitched to them. Here is the Google Map link:

This story led to several responses by the Lagos State Government, on Nation, Punch and Nigerian Current which was culled from BusinessDay here:

All of these led to a state of emergency on refuse in Lagos, with the Government packing the refuse after the publication.

What makes this project innovative?

This project is innovative because the essence of the story was to create a great data visualization at little or no cost at all. All it required was a data journalism training which was done just once and I began to practice thereafter. What is cutting edge about this visualisation is that it is simple and easy to understand and be used as a referent point. It provides a satelite or geographical mapping of affected waste areas in Lagos for actionable cause for the stakeholders involved. This way, I make the work easier for NGOs, CSOs, and Waste recyclers, not excluding the Government as well. It is easier for them to track and act on the research which is the essence of any journalism, open data or data journalism project. It is quite simple and straightforward to use- and the impact is immense. That is what makes it stand out from the rest of the entries.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

I measured impact of this project by the reactions from the Government and other op-ed pieces that continued to rent the media space after my report was published. Even though, the visualization could not be combined with the story, I will like to believe the story made impact because it forced the Government's hand. See links to that effect:

Source and methodology

Most of my data were sourced by myself. I chose to create this data by going to over seven affected regions to interact with people and take these photos. After writing the story, the nature of this visualisation required I first publish the pictures to generate the links. The underlying rule for Googe Fusion Tables is that the links must be scattered on the net- by publishing it or by uploading it to your Google Drive. A friend gladly published my pictures on her blog and I drafted the excel sheets to input and clean up the data collected. All that cummulated in creating the table and making the links go live, hence the visualisation.

Technologies Used

All I needed was the pictures. The picture were published on a blog. I created an Excel sheet afterwards, inputing the values. To get the coordinates- I used an online resource called It automatically calculated the values of the affected areas for me. In the Excel sheet, the format I used was thus: Waste locations, Address, Latitude, Longitude, and Image URL- this contains the links to the published pictures. Since the image URL was long, I used, a link shortener to shorten the link, carefully however. I didnt want to mess up with the values. So I tried inputing the excel sheet into the Google Fusion Table and went through the rows and cards before creating the map of latitude. I ticked the boxes for the values to come alive and you can see them there. They are represented by red dots over the Lagos Map. If you over the cursor over the red dots, the cursor will change from a palm to a finger and when you click the red dot with that finger, it will show you a string of values and an actual link to that picture for that particular geographical location. The images open on the next page and you can see the exact refuse dumps in those locations.

Project members

It was just me.


Additional links


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