Quantity Surveying Project Topics

An Assessment of the Environmental Quality of Informal Settlements in Gwagwalada Town (a Case Study of Gwagwalada Town)

An Assessment of the Environmental Quality of Informal Settlements in (a Case Study of Gwagwalada Town)

An Assessment of the Environmental Quality of Informal Settlements in (a Case Study of Gwagwalada Town)


Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study were to:

  1. Assess the quality of air, water, and soil in selected informal settlements in Gwagwalada Town.
  2. Identify the key environmental hazards and risks prevalent in these settlements.
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of existing environmental management practices and policies in addressing the challenges faced by informal settlements.



Conceptual Review

Informal Settlements:

Informal settlements, also known as slums or shantytowns, are areas characterized by haphazard and unauthorized housing development, typically lacking formal land tenure and basic infrastructure (UN-Habitat, 2016). These settlements often emerge as a result of rapid urbanization, rural-to-urban migration, and inadequate urban planning (Roy, 2005). In Gwagwalada Town and similar urban centres in developing countries, informal settlements represent a significant proportion of the urban landscape, reflecting the challenges of accommodating a growing population within limited urban space (Angel et al., 2011).

Several factors contribute to the formation and proliferation of informal settlements in urban areas. Economic disparities, coupled with limited employment opportunities and affordable housing options, drive migrants and low-income individuals to settle in informal settlements (Davis, 2006). Additionally, land scarcity, high land prices, and restrictive land-use regulations compel marginalized populations to occupy vacant or marginal lands on the urban periphery (Jones & Mberu, 2014). Inadequate access to formal housing finance and lack of affordable housing options further exacerbate the housing crisis, pushing residents towards informal settlements as a coping mechanism (UNDP, 2020).

Residents of informal settlements face a myriad of challenges, ranging from inadequate housing and basic services to social and economic marginalization (Mitlin & Satterthwaite, 2013). The housing in informal settlements is often substandard, comprising makeshift structures constructed from salvaged materials such as corrugated metal, cardboard, and plastic sheets (World Bank, 2019). These precarious housing conditions offer little protection against natural disasters and pose significant health and safety risks to residents (Gulyani & Talukdar, 2008). Moreover, informal settlements typically lack access to basic services such as clean water, sanitation, electricity, and waste management, further compromising the well-being of residents (UNESCO, 2019).

The absence of secure land tenure exacerbates the vulnerabilities of residents in informal settlements, exposing them to forced eviction, land speculation, and displacement (Fernandes & Varley, 2016). Without formal recognition of their rights to the land, residents are unable to invest in improving their housing conditions or accessing essential services (UNICEF, 2020). Furthermore, the stigma associated with informal settlements often leads to social exclusion and discrimination, limiting residents’ access to education, employment, and healthcare (WHO, 2018). These socio-economic challenges perpetuate a cycle of poverty and marginalization, trapping residents in a cycle of vulnerability and deprivation (Adegun et al., 2017).

In essence, informal settlements in urban areas like Gwagwalada Town are complex socio-spatial phenomena shaped by a confluence of economic, social, and political factors. The inadequate housing, lack of basic services, insecure land tenure, and socio-economic marginalization faced by residents underscore the urgent need for interventions aimed at improving the living conditions and well-being of informal settlement communities. By addressing the root causes of informal settlement formation and implementing inclusive and sustainable urban development strategies, policymakers and stakeholders can work towards creating more equitable and resilient cities for all residents.

Urbanization and Informal Settlements

Urbanization is a driving force behind the proliferation of informal settlements, particularly in rapidly growing cities like Gwagwalada Town (Mudau & Mhangara, 2022). As rural populations migrate to urban areas in search of better economic opportunities, the demand for housing often outstrips the supply of formal housing options (Bolund & Hunhammar, 2021). This influx of migrants contributes to the formation of informal settlements on the peripheries of cities, where land is often cheaper and more readily available (Gallagher et al., 2021). Furthermore, inadequate urban planning and regulatory frameworks fail to accommodate the needs of these growing populations, leading to the spontaneous and unplanned development of informal settlements (Morabito et al., 2021).





This chapter outlines the methodology employed in conducting the research, focusing on the research design, population of the study, sampling technique and sample size determination, sources and method of data collection, method of data analysis, validity and reliability of the study, and ethical considerations.

Research Design

The research adopted a quantitative survey research design to gather data on environmental quality in informal settlements. This design was chosen for its ability to systematically collect large-scale data from a representative sample of the target population (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2019). Given the need to assess environmental conditions comprehensively, a survey approach allowed for the collection of quantitative data on various aspects of environmental quality, such as air and water pollution, waste management practices, and access to green spaces (Bell, Bryman, & Harley, 2019).

Population of the Study

The target population for this study comprised residents of informal settlements in Gwagwalada Town, Nigeria. The justification for this population selection is based on the need to understand the environmental challenges faced by individuals living in these settlements and to inform policy interventions aimed at improving their living conditions (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2019). With an estimated population of informal settlements in the study area, the target population of 171 respondents was deemed appropriate for achieving the research objectives.



Data Presentation

The data presented in Table 4.1 illustrates that out of the total 120 questionnaires distributed, 108 were returned and completed, constituting 90.0% of the total sample. This high response rate indicates a strong level of engagement and willingness among respondents to participate in the study. The substantial proportion of returned and completed questionnaires enhances the reliability of the data collected, suggesting that the research instrument was well-designed and effectively administered. On the other hand, 12 questionnaires were not returned or completed, representing 10.0% of the total sample. While this non-response rate is relatively low, it is essential to acknowledge the potential impact of non-response bias on the study findings.

The high completion rate of the questionnaires underscores the successful implementation of the data collection process and the respondents’ cooperation with the research objectives. Factors such as clear communication, well-structured questionnaires, and possibly follow-up efforts may have contributed to the favourable response rate observed. Despite the overall positive response, it is crucial to consider the potential implications of non-response, as it may introduce bias into the study findings. However, given the small proportion of non-response observed in this study, the potential impact of such bias is likely to be minimal.



Summary of Findings

The study conducted in Gwagwalada Town aimed to assess various aspects of environmental quality, waste management practices, and community perceptions in informal settlements. Through the analysis of survey data and statistical tests, several key findings emerged, shedding light on the current state of environmental conditions and waste management practices in the area.

Firstly, regarding air quality, the majority of respondents expressed concerns about pollution levels in informal settlements. A significant proportion reported noticing the presence of air pollutants such as smoke and dust, which often led to respiratory issues among residents. Despite efforts to reduce air pollution, a considerable number of respondents felt that the measures were ineffective, indicating ongoing challenges in addressing air quality issues.

Similarly, concerns about water quality were prevalent among residents. While many respondents believed that the water from sources in informal settlements was not safe for drinking, others expressed doubts about the reliability of water sources. This suggests widespread apprehension regarding waterborne diseases and the need for improved water treatment facilities to ensure access to clean and safe drinking water for residents.

In terms of waste management practices, the study revealed a mixed picture. While a majority of respondents perceived waste management systems to be well-organized and efficient, there were concerns about the segregation of waste before disposal. Notably, improper waste disposal was identified as a significant contributor to environmental pollution in informal settlements, highlighting the need for better waste management strategies and infrastructure.

Furthermore, the availability of waste recycling facilities was perceived differently among residents. While some believed that adequate recycling facilities were accessible, others expressed doubts about their availability, indicating potential gaps in recycling infrastructure. This underscores the importance of enhancing recycling initiatives and improving access to recycling facilities to promote sustainable waste management practices.

Statistical analyses, including one-sample t-tests, provided further insights into residents’ perceptions of environmental quality and waste management practices. The results indicated significant differences in perceptions compared to an assumed norm, emphasizing the need for targeted interventions to address environmental challenges effectively.

Overall, the findings of the study underscore the complex nature of environmental issues in informal settlements and the importance of holistic approaches to address them. Effective strategies should focus not only on improving environmental quality but also on enhancing waste management systems, promoting community engagement, and fostering sustainable practices. By incorporating residents’ perspectives and experiences, policymakers and stakeholders can develop more inclusive and impactful interventions to create healthier and more sustainable living environments in informal settlements.


The results of the hypotheses testing provide valuable insights into the environmental conditions and challenges faced by informal settlements in Gwagwalada Town. Through rigorous statistical analysis, several key conclusions can be drawn regarding air, water, and soil pollution levels, as well as the prevalence of environmental hazards and the adequacy of existing management practices.

Firstly, the findings suggest that there are significant differences in pollution levels between informal settlements and formal residential areas. Residents of informal settlements are more likely to experience higher levels of air, water, and soil pollution, which can have adverse effects on their health and well-being. This highlights the urgent need for targeted interventions to improve environmental quality in these areas.

Secondly, the results indicate that environmental hazards and risks are indeed more prevalent in informal settlements compared to formal residential areas. The higher prevalence of air and water pollution, coupled with inadequate waste management practices, exacerbates environmental risks for residents living in these settlements. Efforts to mitigate these risks should prioritize the development of comprehensive environmental management strategies tailored to the unique needs of informal settlements.

Finally, the study suggests that existing environmental management practices and policies are insufficient in addressing the challenges faced by informal settlements. While some efforts have been made to reduce pollution and improve waste management, the results indicate that these measures are not adequately meeting the needs of residents. There is a clear need for more robust and effective environmental policies, backed by increased investment in infrastructure and community engagement initiatives.

In conclusion, the findings underscore the urgent need for comprehensive and targeted interventions to improve environmental quality and mitigate hazards in informal settlements. Addressing the complex challenges faced by these communities requires a multifaceted approach that involves collaboration between government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and local communities. By implementing evidence-based policies and interventions, stakeholders can work towards creating healthier and more sustainable living environments for residents of informal settlements in Gwagwalada Town and similar areas.


Based on the findings and conclusions drawn from the study on environmental conditions in informal settlements in Gwagwalada Town, the following recommendations are proposed to address the identified challenges and improve the well-being of residents:

  1. Enhance Waste Management Practices: Implement comprehensive waste management programs tailored to the needs of informal settlements. This includes the establishment of waste collection points, recycling facilities, and community education initiatives to promote proper waste segregation and disposal.
  2. Improve Access to Clean Water: Invest in infrastructure to improve access to clean and reliable water sources in informal settlements. This may involve the installation of water purification systems, boreholes, and distribution networks to ensure residents have access to safe drinking water.
  3. Strengthen Air Quality Monitoring: Develop and implement air quality monitoring systems to track pollution levels in informal settlements. This data can inform targeted interventions to reduce air pollution and mitigate health risks associated with poor air quality.
  4. Enhance Environmental Policies: Review and strengthen existing environmental policies to address the specific needs of informal settlements. This may include regulations on waste management, pollution control, and land use planning to promote sustainable development in these areas.
  5. Community Engagement and Empowerment: Foster community engagement and empowerment by involving residents in decision-making processes related to environmental management. This can be achieved through community-based organizations, participatory planning workshops, and awareness campaigns to build capacity and foster a sense of ownership among residents.
  6. Promote Green Infrastructure: Integrate green infrastructure, such as parks, green spaces, and urban forests, into informal settlements to improve environmental quality and enhance resilience to climate change. These green spaces can help mitigate pollution, reduce urban heat island effects, and promote biodiversity.
  7. Invest in Capacity Building: Provide training and capacity-building programs for local authorities, community leaders, and residents on environmental management practices. This may include workshops on waste segregation, composting, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy technologies to empower communities to take proactive measures to improve their environment.
  8. Collaborative Governance: Foster collaboration between government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, and local communities to address environmental challenges in informal settlements. Establish multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships to coordinate efforts, share resources, and leverage expertise to achieve common goals.

Contribution to Knowledge

The study’s contribution to knowledge lies in its comprehensive examination of environmental conditions within informal settlements, specifically focusing on Gwagwalada Town. By systematically analyzing various aspects such as air and water quality, waste management practices, and the prevalence of environmental hazards, the research provides valuable insights into the unique challenges faced by residents of informal settlements. This depth of analysis contributes to a better understanding of the complex interplay between urbanization, environmental degradation, and social vulnerability in rapidly growing urban areas.

Moreover, the study sheds light on the disparities in environmental quality between informal settlements and formal residential areas. By quantitatively assessing pollution levels and environmental risks, the research highlights the inequities that exist in access to clean air, water, and sanitation facilities. This contributes to the growing body of literature on environmental justice, emphasizing the need for targeted interventions to address environmental inequalities and promote social equity within urban settings.

Furthermore, the findings of the study provide empirical evidence to support policy development and decision-making processes aimed at improving environmental conditions in informal settlements. By identifying key areas of concern and assessing the effectiveness of existing management practices, the research offers valuable guidance for policymakers, urban planners, and community stakeholders seeking to implement sustainable development strategies and initiatives.

Additionally, the study contributes methodologically by employing rigorous research methodologies and statistical analyses to evaluate environmental parameters and their impacts on human health and well-being. By utilizing one-sample t-tests and other statistical techniques, the research ensures the reliability and validity of its findings, thereby enhancing the credibility of the study’s conclusions and recommendations.

Furthermore, the research contributes to the broader academic discourse on urban environmental management by offering empirical evidence and insights from a specific context. By focusing on informal settlements in Gwagwalada Town, the study adds to our understanding of the unique environmental challenges faced by marginalized communities living in rapidly urbanizing areas, particularly in developing countries.

Implications of the Study

The implications of the study extend beyond academia, with significant implications for policy, practice, and community development. By examining environmental conditions in informal settlements within Gwagwalada Town, the study highlights several key implications that have implications for various stakeholders.

Firstly, the study underscores the urgent need for targeted interventions to address environmental inequalities and promote social equity within urban settings. The findings reveal disparities in access to clean air, water, and sanitation facilities between informal settlements and formal residential areas. This highlights the importance of implementing policies and initiatives that prioritize the environmental needs of marginalized communities, ensuring that all residents have equal access to basic environmental services and amenities.

Moreover, the study’s findings have important implications for urban planning and development strategies. By identifying key environmental challenges faced by residents of informal settlements, such as poor waste management practices and inadequate water treatment facilities, the research provides valuable insights for policymakers and urban planners seeking to design more sustainable and resilient cities. This includes integrating environmental considerations into urban planning processes, investing in green infrastructure, and promoting community-based approaches to environmental management.

Furthermore, the study’s findings have implications for public health and well-being. The presence of environmental hazards and pollutants in informal settlements poses significant risks to residents’ health, contributing to the prevalence of respiratory issues and waterborne diseases. Addressing these environmental health risks requires a multi-sectoral approach that combines efforts to improve environmental quality with investments in healthcare infrastructure and public health education initiatives.

Additionally, the study has implications for community empowerment and capacity-building. By engaging with residents of informal settlements and involving them in the research process, the study empowers communities to advocate for their environmental rights and participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives. This participatory approach fosters community ownership and strengthens social cohesion, laying the groundwork for more sustainable and resilient communities in the long term.

Moreover, the study’s methodological approach and analytical techniques have implications for future research and scholarship in the field of urban environmental management. By employing rigorous research methodologies and statistical analyses, the research sets a precedent for future studies seeking to assess environmental conditions in informal settlements and evaluate the effectiveness of environmental management practices. This methodological rigour enhances the credibility and reliability of the study’s findings, contributing to the advancement of knowledge in the field.

Limitations of the Study

While the study provides valuable insights into environmental conditions in informal settlements within Gwagwalada Town, it is important to acknowledge several limitations that may impact the interpretation and generalizability of the findings. Firstly, the study’s scope was limited to a specific geographic area, which may restrict the generalizability of the findings to other informal settlements in different contexts. The unique socio-economic, environmental, and cultural characteristics of Gwagwalada Town may not be representative of other urban areas, limiting the applicability of the study’s findings beyond the study area. Future research could benefit from exploring environmental conditions in a broader range of settings to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing environmental quality in informal settlements.

Secondly, the study’s reliance on self-reported data may introduce biases and limitations inherent to survey-based research. Respondents’ perceptions of environmental conditions, waste management practices, and other variables may be influenced by factors such as social desirability bias, recall bias, or individual differences in interpretation. Additionally, the study’s cross-sectional design precludes the establishment of causal relationships between variables, limiting the ability to draw definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of environmental management practices or the impact of environmental conditions on residents’ health and well-being. Future research could benefit from employing longitudinal or mixed-methods designs to capture changes over time and gain a more nuanced understanding of the complex interactions between environmental, social, and economic factors in informal settlements.

Suggestions for Further Studies

Longitudinal Studies: Future research could benefit from longitudinal studies to investigate changes in environmental conditions and their impacts on informal settlements over time. Longitudinal designs would allow researchers to track trends in air and water quality, waste management practices, and residents’ health outcomes, providing valuable insights into the effectiveness of environmental management interventions and the persistence of environmental hazards.

Comparative Studies: Comparative studies could explore variations in environmental conditions and management practices across different informal settlements within Gwagwalada Town or compare conditions between informal and formal residential areas. By examining differences in environmental quality, waste management infrastructure, and community perceptions, researchers can identify factors contributing to disparities and inform targeted interventions to improve environmental sustainability and public health outcomes.

Qualitative Investigations: Qualitative research methods, such as in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, could complement quantitative surveys by providing rich contextual insights into residents’ experiences, perceptions, and coping strategies related to environmental challenges. Qualitative approaches would allow researchers to explore complex social dynamics, cultural factors, and institutional barriers influencing environmental management practices and community resilience in informal settlements.

Policy Analysis: Future studies could focus on analyzing existing policies and regulations related to environmental management in informal settlements and assessing their effectiveness in addressing environmental challenges. By examining policy gaps, implementation barriers, and stakeholder perspectives, researchers can provide evidence-based recommendations for strengthening environmental governance structures and enhancing policy coherence to support sustainable development goals.

Community-Based Interventions: Action research initiatives involving collaboration between researchers, community organizations, and local authorities could explore the co-design and implementation of community-based interventions to improve environmental sustainability in informal settlements. Engaging residents in participatory decision-making processes and capacity-building activities could empower communities to identify and address environmental priorities, leading to more sustainable and resilient urban development outcomes.


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