Flood alert — The Nation EDITORIAL

Posted by News Express | 11 August 2021 | 479 times

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•Flooded Nigerian community


Let’s heed early warning signals to avert stories that touch the heart

Although persistent rainfall has subsided in some parts of the country, rain has continued unabated in several other parts. Whatever the present experience, the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency (NIHSA) has warned that Nigerians should expect heavy flooding this year, listing Lagos and Osun states as vulnerable to flood-related disasters. We must take the warning seriously.

NIHSA’s Director-General, Mr. Clement Nze, gave the warning at a press conference in Abuja. He said even though we were yet to enter the peak of the rainy season, at least 18 of the 36 states in the country had started experiencing flood disasters. He warned that the two states would experience the three stages of flood – urban, river and coastal flooding due to their geographical location. “As at today, flood disasters have occurred in many states, notably in Lagos councils of Mushin, Shomolu, Victoria Island, Lekki, Marina; Keffi in Nasarawa; Onitsha in Anambra; Owerri, Imo; Aba, Abia; Ilorin and Offa, Kwara; Kaduna; Bori, Rivers; Ijebu-Ode, Ogun; Asaba, Delta; Jalingo, Taraba; Gashua, Yobe; Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti; Akure town, Ondo; Borno, Katsina, Enugu and Maiduguri.”

Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, presented a similar picture while presenting the 2021 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) to the public. He hinted that some 302 local government areas in 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) would fall within moderate flood risk areas while 121 LGAs in 28 states will be within the highly probable risk areas.

The main cause of flooding in Nigeria is well known: heavy rainfall. While this may be natural, with little that can be done to stop it, especially with global warming that has put the world in jeopardy, most of the other factors that cause flooding are man-made and therefore avoidable. What do we make of a situation where people build on waterways or dump refuse into drainages?

It would appear that flooding has remained an issue in the country due to lack of proper town planning or lack of enforcement of environmental laws.  By planning, we are talking about creating easy access for water during and after rainfall. These accesses must be regularly maintained and cleaned by removing refuse, including solid waste that could have blocked drainages. We can also control flood by building dikes and levees to prevent rivers from overflowing. Canals must also be built and maintained.

The fact that flooding occurs, even in many developed countries, has shown that it is not peculiar to developing countries. The difference in both settings is that severe as the problem could be in the developed countries (sometimes flooding there is caused by natural disasters like hurricane which is rare in this part of the world), they are able to manage it better. They provide early warning signals to people likely to be affected, with the government on standby to render assistance by any means possible. The people are not abandoned to their devices. This is lacking here. True, there could be warnings to residents of an impending heavy rainfall and consequently flooding, there is not much by way of assistance to facilitate the movement of people from the danger zone.

If, as Mr Eze said river flooding and coastal flooding are yet to set in and floods have wreaked so much havoc in some places in the country, we can only imagine what the situation would be like by the time river flooding and coastal flooding set in.

This is one reason why governments at all levels must be alive to their responsibilities. We all have to realise the impact of global warming on the environment. Town planners have a lot to do, especially considering the disclosure by Mr Eze that poor drainage systems play a major role in the flooding that we have witnessed in some parts of the country. Drainages must be regularly desilted to make way for water because water would always find its level. Moreover, there should be stricter enforcement of town planning laws to discourage people from building on drainages.

The consequences of flooding can sometimes be dire: houses and farmlands are submerged, often resulting in loss of lives, properties and even farm produce.

As Mr Eze rightly observed, it is better we all see ourselves as stakeholders in our efforts to prevent flooding rather than be waiting to be rehabilitated or buried as flood victims.

Source: News Express

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