Climate change is fuelling devastating floods across many cities in Nigeria  

Last week, floods and flash floods were reported in Yobe State, resulting in several fatalities. Over 100 households have been displaced across 11 communities in Gulani and Gujba. Several towns, including Gulani, Bara, Gagure, and Njibulwa, are now inaccessible as the main bridge linking these areas was cut off. But the problem is not restricted to Yobe, it is a national challenge. In Lagos, heavy rainfall forced residents in low lying areas out of their homes, destroying their property in the process. Many roads and homes in Lagos Island, Lekki and Ajah axis were under water just as many roads in the mainland were rendered impassable. At least two people were reported missing, and four others were rescued.   

The unmistakable impact of the climate change crisis is in every state in Nigeria and the heavy rainfall that results from it now force streams and rivers to overflow their banks while reservoirs burst if water is not released on time. Meanwhile, these ugly activities were predicted in a recent data released by the federal government in the 2022 Annual Flood Outlook collated by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) that ought to put everyone on red alert. Heavy rainfall over a short period of time can cause flash floods while moderate rainfall over several days can overflow rivers or dams. According to NIHSA, at least 32 states and 233 local governments are at high risk of being flooded due to heavy downpours during the ongoing rainy season.  

Anytime the federal government’s weather agencies post these predictions of extreme flooding, there is always trepidation triggered by the possibility of a repeat of the 2012 floods that killed 363 people and displaced over 2.1 million people, with estimated damage and losses of about N2.6 trillion. Some 30 of the 36 states were affected by the floods, believed to be the worst in 40 years. Since then, there have been seasonal flash floods during the annual rainy seasons that destroy property in towns and cities and are sometimes fatal, especially in the rural areas and overcrowded slums, where drainage is poor.   

Considering the dire predictions in the 2022 Flood Outlook, Lagos and other states, as well as the FCT must audit their plans to make them work better. Also, the federal government should do all that is necessary to prevent the impending crisis, which in addition to enlightenment, must include a plan to evacuate people to higher ground and providing fresh drinking water to avert outbreak of diseases, like cholera and diarrhea.  

We understand the federal government plans to put in place, as it said, “structural control measures such as dams, canals, storm drains and other facilities to divert flood waters from highly probable flood risk zones in the country.” The government also said it plans to collaborate with neighbouring countries in respect to water releases from dams, which contributed to the 2012 floods. Regardless, environmentalists find it painfully worrisome that the Ecological Fund had been of little use over the years, in terms of helping adaptation to climatic issues and to mitigating the problems. It does not make sense as the huge funds do not match the scrawny drains built in communities to lead storm water to nowhere, as they are ill-conceived, and poorly designed.  

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