Environmental Experts Explore Blue Green Initiative for Urban Flood Resilience in Nigeria

Environmental experts from the United Kingdom and Nigeria met in Abuja to explore the imperatives of flood resilient cities in Nigeria as well as the nation’s capital, Abuja.
Thirty four of the nation’s 36 States are presently battling flooding challenges that claimed many lives and destroyed property worth billions of naira.

Speaking at a one-day workshop organised by the University of Nottingham in collaboration with Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, an environmental researcher, Professor, Colin Thorne of Nottingham University, said a research work, Blue Green Cities Initiative developed under the auspices of the Blue Green Cities Consortium, could be leveraged to help Abuja and other Nigerian cities become resilient to floods and droughts, while also having better air quality, water quality, soil quality, public amenity and public health.

“We want to exchange knowledge and information with experts in Nigeria to make accessible new research that has been performed in the United Kingdom.
“Nigeria is building cities for the future, like Abuja, whose master planning and philosophy envisages the new nation’s capital, as providing a green and livable urban environment fit for the 21st century”, he said.
Prof Thorne affirmed that “the research looked at city planning, design and engineering can be transformed to manage water, wastewater and stormwater sustainably.

“What we discovered is that engineering is very well known. But the uptake of the new technologies and what we call the blue green infrastructure, where instead of relying entirely on concrete and steel, pipes, and ditches, we partner with natural processes of infiltration and seepage and water flow to make a more not only a more pleasant city environment but a much safer way that the engineering to do this. We know how to do it.

“But it isn’t being done. And what our research shows is that it’s because of lack of understanding and education and perhaps above all, reluctance of people to be innovative, to embrace change, to try new solutions, instead of continuing to use the old solutions from the 20th century that are not fit for the 21st century. Our message is that the innovative methods exist, we have to have the courage and the vision to use them”, he said.

In his presentation titled: “Incidences and Causes of Flood in Abuja and Other Nigerian Cities”, Prof Ishaku Yari Mallo, cited weak institutional structures and poor management of urban planning policies as some of the factors that engender flooding.

“Nigerians hardly follow stipulated master plans of cities or towns that government proposes. Kaduna master plan by Sir Lord Lugard, Abuja Master Plan and even Lagos master plan were deliberately disregarded. Consequently, urban flood generating structures use to emerge which cause congestion and severe flood events.

“Quality control department is supposed to prevent people from building on flood plains and other flood prone areas but they do not. Corruption allows people to built wherever they choose too until when destruction comes”, he posited.

According to him”quality control has the responsibility of enforcing compliance to the master plan but they do not. That is why demolition of houses in going on everyday in Abuja town for instance. Strict monitoring by quality control can save many communities from getting flooded”.

He hoped that the Blue Green city initiative would proffer a solution to the challenge even as he called for tree planting on the part of Nigerians.
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, Prof Garba Sharubutu, emphasised the need to expedite sustainable solutions that would build resilience in the face of growing environmental challenges.

He said the council would partner the blue green initiative project to promote sustainable urban agriculture, resilient urban food systems, flood management and utilisation for food production in urban areas and development of flood and resilient crop varieties.
“This will create avenues through which some of the flood/waste waters generated within the city can be used economically for food production”, he said.

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