Nigeria’s response to serial flooding
It was in 2012 that Nigeria experienced what was then referred to as the worst rain disaster in the last 40 years. According the nation’s National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, the 2012 floods claimed 363 lives, displaced 2.1 million people and affected other seven million people in 30 states of the federation. Experts put the economic loss in that year’s flooding to N2.5 trillion.
The official cause of 2012 flooding was attributed to heavy rainfall and the usual fear of the release of excess dam water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.
Six years down the line, Nigeria is again witnessing another devastating flood disaster. Available records show that this year’s rain related activities have claimed over 200 lives, displaced over 19,500 people and destroyed about 6,000 houses. In addition, farmlands, properties, infrastructures, businesses, etc. have also been affected.
This number is expected to rise as national agencies have indicated that the rain will extend to October. Earlier, the National Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the Nigeria Hydrological Agency (NHSA) have warned against flooding, stating that 35 states in the country would experience severe flooding because of change in the pattern of rainfall.
Several warnings by relevant agencies preceded the 2012 flood, but as is customary in Nigeria, they were all ignored. Available records show that in 2013, heavy rains and floods caused the death of 19 people, damaged over 6,500 homes and destroyed 2,217 farmlands. Altogether, over 81,000 people were affected across the country. In 2015, National Orientation Agency (NOA) recorded that 53 people lost their lives, 100,420 were displaced and a lot of farmlands, houses and businesses were swept off by floods and heavy rains, in the country.
Similarly, in 2016 available data shows that over 100 people lost their lives to flood. Over 9,000 houses were destroyed which gave birth to over 92,000 people without homes. Again, the disaster swept away farmlands and over 26,000 livestock died. Just last year, NEMA said over 90 people died in 27 states across the country through floods.
In all instances from 2012 to date, the causes of the floods have always been torrential rain, overflowing dams, poor drainage, poor town planning and poor public orientation.
But the worse may yet come. Cameroon is yet to release excess water from her Lagdo dam, but this might happen. That means more devastating floods in Nigeria. We expect the government not to take chances on the lives of its citizens. A constructive discussion should happen between Nigeria and Cameroon over the Logdo dam in order to find a lasting solution to the spillover of water from the dam.
The National Orientation Agency should roll out the drums to properly educate citizens on the damages of torrential rains and flooding. It is unfortunate that people who were displaced by floods often go back to rebuild on the same vulnerable area.
It is a common knowledge that many cities are facing sanitation problems. In Lagos for example, the rubbish dumps along the roads and in homes are forcing people to dump their wastes outside whenever it rains, thereby putting much pressure on the drainage system. The resultant effect is the blockage of the drainage forcing flood water to escape to people’s homes. We think one of the ways to overcome this challenge is to find lasting solution to the sanitation problem faced by cities in Nigeria.
As it stands, Nigeria does not have adequate emergency response mechanism to handle emergency situations whenever they occur. Even when dangers are foreseen, Nigeria lacks adequate responses to possibly evacuate people who are prone to danger. The authorities must do more beyond helicopter trips to commiserate with the victims.
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