Tackling Flooding through NIHSA’s Strategies

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Udora Orizu writes that the perennial nationwide flooding and its attendant destructive  consequences can be ameliorated if the strategies put out by the National Hydrological Services Agency are strictly adhered to by state governments and its citizens

Traversing the length and breadth of the largest country in West Africa, Nigeria – starting from the Southern part to Northern region, has shown that the country is lucky to have been witnessing downpour in the last four months across the six geopolitical zones, considering its import on human life. However, this singular natural blessing, has, in the recent time created a sorrowful mood for farmers, agriculturists and other categories of living beings.

The downpour, when outweighs its fortunate and unfortunate posture to the existence of Nigerians recently, may be accurate to say it takes 40 per cent and 60 per cent  respectively. The rainstorm, which wrecked havoc in virtually all 36 states of the federation between June and August 2019 did not spare the seat of power, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

On Friday, August 2 to be precise, an early downpour hit the family members of a Director  of Finance at the FCT High Court in Abuja, Anthony Okwecheme, who went missing for about four days after the flood submerged his vehicle at a bridge along Galadimawa roundabout before his body was later found 10km away from scene of the incident.

Similarly, few days ago, flood took over the residential quarters, major roads and other strategic locations in Maiduguri following a heavy rainfall. The rainstorm, attributed to the blockage of waterways due to indiscriminate dumping of waste into drains, prevented people of the metropolis for good two days. Some of the affected areas include: Polo, Gomari major roads and Bakassi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp.

Before these two incidents in both North-central and North-east, Lagos residents in the Southern region of the country have not really been finding it easy. Experts have alluded this frequent occurrence to a wide range of factors; such as the location of the state along the coast, as well as overcrowding, given that it is the business hub of the country, among other factors.

In June 2019, a 28-year-old Adebola Oni was standing in front of a kiosk overlooking a marshland on Tony Enyinna Street, Gbagada. It had just rained that Sunday afternoon and the sun was forcing its way out of the sky’s grey clouds.

At about 4:00p.m., Oni had spent the most part of the day gathering gravel and sand to fill up leaking crucibles in his balcony from where water had leaked into his sitting room. After several rounds of pacing up and down the compound, he took a break outside alone, contemplating the tragedy of his plight.

“The rains are here again; living here is like sharing a room with the devil,” he retorted while standing over the mass of water spilling out of his apartment.

This same unfortunate experience brought up by a natural occurrence  also has found its way to the oil-rich  South-south region  of the country. In fact, it was gathered that such incident is even worse in that region than the Northern part because of the menace of erosion towards the area.

For instance, on August 12 this year, this same flood ravaged Bayelsa State and paralysed banking activities in some commercial banks in Yenagoa, the state capital, as their premises were overrun by water. The worst hit was the Swali branch of the United Bank of Africa (UBA), where flood overran the entrance and poured into the banking hall.

However, these ugly trends that resulted from this natural ‘favour’ would have been averted if all concerned stakeholders had joined hands together with the Director-General of the National Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Engr Clement Nze, who had been thoroughly carrying his assigned responsibility and the statutory mandate of the agency.

The ever-ready NIHSA boss and his team, had earlier in April alerted Nigerians about occurrence which many stakeholders had taken with levity. Nze had while presenting a comprehensive 2019 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) reeled out measures that should be taken before heavy downpour begins to wreck havoc on lives and properties, as is currently being witnessed in some parts of the country now.

Before unveiling 2019 AFO, the NIHSA team involved themselves in tedious engagements, that if complemented by other stakeholders particularly the public, by refraining from indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the drainage, no single life would have been lost.

THISDAY’s findings revealed that NIHSA team applied two reliable models before arriving at the accurate 2019 AFO. They include: Geospatial Stream Flow Model (GEOSFM) and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). These models, according to the team, utilises hydrological and hydrogeological data, disaggregated Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP), satellite rainfall data, Digital Elevation Model (DEM), topographical and soil/water index balance data among others.

One of the main strategies as spelt out by NIHSA is that, the 36 States and the FCT authority should create retention basins for harvesting flood waters downstream of major rivers where there is scarcity of groundwater thereby using the flood waters for possible groundwater recharge and other uses. By so doing, the fresh flood water will not be lost to the sea to become saline water.

Notably, for the month of September NIHSA had predicted that Nigeria is going to witness more flooding, which is the situation on ground now. However, Though, agency had accused state governments of failing to heed its previous warnings on floods released earlier this year.

Notwithstanding, as one of the strategies mapped out to ameliorate the situation, the agency is however urging state governments to pull down structures built on flood plains and expand the drainages for easy flow of water as one of the strategies mapped out.

In the same vein, the synergy between Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, stakeholders and other collaborative agencies should be encouraged. The effective management of flood risk should be a collective responsibility of all stakeholders from individual, local, state and federal levels.

Furthermore, there should be in place, programmes to enhance resilience (insurance compensation, economic empowerment, education and awareness) flood forecasting and warning and catchment management plans, innovative building and construction schemes, enactment and enforcement of planning laws.

Traversing the length and breadth of the largest country in West Africa, Nigeria – starting from the Southern part to Northern region, has shown that the country is lucky to have been witnessing downpour in the last four months across the six geopolitical zones, considering its import on human life. However, this singular natural blessing, has, in the recent time created a sorrowful mood for farmers, agriculturists and other categories of living beings.

The downpour, when outweighs its fortunate and unfortunate posture to the existence of Nigerians recently, may be accurate to say it takes 40 per cent and 60 per cent  respectively. The rainstorm, which wrecked havoc in virtually all 36 states of the federation between June and August 2019 did not spare the seat of power, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

On Friday, August 2 to be precise, an early downpour hit the family members of a Director  of Finance at the FCT High Court in Abuja, Anthony Okwecheme, who went missing for about four days after the flood submerged his vehicle at a bridge along Galadimawa roundabout before his body was later found 10km away from scene of the incident.

Similarly, few days ago, flood took over the residential quarters, major roads and other strategic locations in Maiduguri following a heavy rainfall. The rainstorm, attributed to the blockage of waterways due to indiscriminate dumping of waste into drains, prevented people of the metropolis for good two days. Some of the affected areas include: Polo, Gomari major roads and Bakassi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp.

Before these two incidents in both North-central and North-east, Lagos residents in the Southern region of the country have not really been finding it easy. Experts have alluded this frequent occurrence to a wide range of factors; such as the location of the state along the coast, as well as overcrowding, given that it is the business hub of the country, among other factors.

In June 2019, a 28-year-old Adebola Oni was standing in front of a kiosk overlooking a marshland on Tony Enyinna Street, Gbagada. It had just rained that Sunday afternoon and the sun was forcing its way out of the sky’s grey clouds.

At about 4:00p.m., Oni had spent the most part of the day gathering gravel and sand to fill up leaking crucibles in his balcony from where water had leaked into his sitting room. After several rounds of pacing up and down the compound, he took a break outside alone, contemplating the tragedy of his plight.

“The rains are here again; living here is like sharing a room with the devil,” he retorted while standing over the mass of water spilling out of his apartment.

This same unfortunate experience brought up by a natural occurrence  also has found its way to the oil-rich  South-south region  of the country. In fact, it was gathered that such incident is even worse in that region than the Northern part because of the menace of erosion towards the area.

For instance, on August 12 this year, this same flood ravaged Bayelsa State and paralysed banking activities in some commercial banks in Yenagoa, the state capital, as their premises were overrun by water. The worst hit was the Swali branch of the United Bank of Africa (UBA), where flood overran the entrance and poured into the banking hall.

However, these ugly trends that resulted from this natural ‘favour’ would have been averted if all concerned stakeholders had joined hands together with the Director-General of the National Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Engr Clement Nze, who had been thoroughly carrying his assigned responsibility and the statutory mandate of the agency.

The ever-ready NIHSA boss and his team, had earlier in April alerted Nigerians about occurrence which many stakeholders had taken with levity. Nze had while presenting a comprehensive 2019 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) reeled out measures that should be taken before heavy downpour begins to wreck havoc on lives and properties, as is currently being witnessed in some parts of the country now.

Before unveiling 2019 AFO, the NIHSA team involved themselves in tedious engagements, that if complemented by other stakeholders particularly the public, by refraining from indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the drainage, no single life would have been lost.

THISDAY’s findings revealed that NIHSA team applied two reliable models before arriving at the accurate 2019 AFO. They include: Geospatial Stream Flow Model (GEOSFM) and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). These models, according to the team, utilises hydrological and hydrogeological data, disaggregated Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP), satellite rainfall data, Digital Elevation Model (DEM), topographical and soil/water index balance data among others.

One of the main strategies as spelt out by NIHSA is that, the 36 States and the FCT authority should create retention basins for harvesting flood waters downstream of major rivers where there is scarcity of groundwater thereby using the flood waters for possible groundwater recharge and other uses. By so doing, the fresh flood water will not be lost to the sea to become saline water.

Notably, for the month of September NIHSA had predicted that Nigeria is going to witness more flooding, which is the situation on ground now. However, Though, agency had accused state governments of failing to heed its previous warnings on floods released earlier this year.

Notwithstanding, as one of the strategies mapped out to ameliorate the situation, the agency is however urging state governments to pull down structures built on flood plains and expand the drainages for easy flow of water as one of the strategies mapped out.

In the same vein, the synergy between Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, stakeholders and other collaborative agencies should be encouraged. The effective management of flood risk should be a collective responsibility of all stakeholders from individual, local, state and federal levels.

Furthermore, there should be in place, programmes to enhance resilience (insurance compensation, economic empowerment, education and awareness) flood forecasting and warning and catchment management plans, innovative building and construction schemes, enactment and enforcement of planning laws.