Mitigating Flood Risks

Ugo Aliogo in this report examines the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction released by Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the Annual Flood Outlook released by Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA)

Despite increased enlightenment and sensitisation campaigns for better preparedness on flood mitigation and management, particularly in the flood risks zones in the country, flooding has remained a major climate change challenge that the country has continued to grapple. Though some States are making frantic efforts in addressing the challenges brought by the flooding, however there seem not be an end in sight anytime soon. Flood disaster has continued to ravage many communities and states yearly, despite early warnings and seasonal predictions from Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the Annual Flood Outlook released by Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA).

Recently, the Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Mustapha Ahmed, stated that the agency had identified 233 local government areas in 32 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that would experience flooding in 2022. This warning is being followed by the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction released by NiMet and the Annual Flood Outlook released by NIHSA.

Ahmed said the agency had sent out advisory letters and maps showing predicted flood risk areas in various States to the respective State governments. He also noted that the agency have also produced risk maps for vulnerable local government areas as forecasted by NIHSA’s Annual Flood Outlook.

According to him, “State emergency management agencies as well as local emergency management committees must be proactive. This will ensure effective and efficient flood preparedness, mitigation and response.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Farouq, has called on relevant stakeholders to take proactive measures in addressing flood and its associated impacts. Farouq, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Disaster Management at the ministry, Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, added that adequate information must be sent out to the public for effective preparation.

NIHSA’s Report

The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency had in its submission in the 2022 Annual Flood Outlook, (AFO), predicted that 233 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 32 states of the Federation and the FCT fall within the highly probable flood risks areas, while 212 LGAs in 35 states of the Federation including FCT fall within the moderately probable flood risks areas. The remaining 329 LGAs fall within the probable flood risks areas. The highly probable flood risk states are; Adamawa, Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross-River, Delta, Eboyin, Ekiti, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa and Kadunna, others are, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe, as well as Zamfara and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The 2022 AFO noted that the Annual Flood Outlook, based on empirical evidence, has aided the abatement of flood risks in the country, and building upon the past successes NIHSA has improved on its prediction capacity through introduction of new approach to the 2022 AFO, this new approach, involves disaggregation of expected annual flood events into three different scenarios, the first scenerio as; Flood Outlook for the months of April- June, Flood Outlook for the months of July- September, as the second scenerio while Flood Outlook for the months of October- November, as the third scenerio.

NIHSA further informed that the level of floods in the highly probable flood risks areas between the months of April and November is expected to be high in terms of impact on the population, Agriculture, livelihood and livestock and infrastructure and the environment, stressing that part of 57 LGA’s in the country fall within highly probable risks areas in the months of April, May, and June; with part of 220 LGA’s in the months of July, August and September; and part of 38 LGA’s in the months of October- November, 2022.

NIHSA stated that the moderate flood risks areas between the months of April and November impact levels of floods are expected in parts of 45 LGA’s within the months of April, May and June; and in parts of 140 LGA’s within the months of July, August and September and parts of 54 LGA’s within the months of October and November, 2022.

“Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo, Lagos, Ogun, and Ondo are expected to experience Coastal Flooding due to rise in Sea Level and tidal surge, while Lagos, Kaduna, Gombe, Makurdi, Abuja, Benin- City, Port- Harcourt, Lokoja, Asaba, Nsukka, Kano Owerri Oshogbo, Yenogoa, Calabar and other urban City Centres will experience flash and urban flood,” NIHSA added.

While calling on stakeholders to consider in strong terms the flood forecasts, flood early warning and information that are being issued by NIHSA in its AFO, monthly and weekly alert bulletins for reducing incidences of flooding in the country, they also noted that AFO, would no doubt go a long way to save our dear nation from significant losses of lives, property and other critical infrastructure.

NiMet’s Report

The Director-General, NiMet, Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu, said the agency has since February, 15 released the Seasonal climate Prediction (SCP) for the year with its attendant socio-economic implications, adding that the theme for this year’s SCP is: ‘Strengthening Climate Actions through Timely and Impact-based Climate Prediction for Economic Recovery.’

He further explained that the effort to produce the prediction and release it to the public with sufficient lead-time, is part of NiMet’s Early Warning drives and for stakeholders, policy makers and the entire populace to take advantage of the prediction and advisories for adequate climate smart and weather-wise plans and decisions.

According to him, “It is no news Climate is changing and this is a global reality with local evidences and attendant impacts. Over the last three decades, Nigeria has witnessed tremendous increase in temperature and rainfall amount with increased occurrences of high intensity, short duration thunderstorms which are always accompanied by strong winds and flash floods.

“Climate change discourse is never complete without reference to the oceans as one of the key drivers in addition to greenhouse gases. A recent publication by World Meteorological Organisation, greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification are on the increase with harmful and long-lasting ramifications for sustainable development and ecosystems.”

Matazu  said: “For the year 2022, the rainfall has already been established in all southern states and most part of the central states in line with the predictions. Just a month away, rainfall is expected to have been established across the country.

“The rainfall amount is generally expected to be normal in most places, however, short duration, high-intensity rainfall that characterised the onset months usually comes along with flash floods due to excess runoffs and disastrous wind gusts. In-season, likely flood occurrences as a result of cumulative rainfall and other factors as highlighted by NIHSA must be taken seriously.”

He therefore called on the states, the press, private entities, and all Nigerians to carefully consider the 2022 Disaster Risk Management by NEMA for proactive decisions ad policies that would help avoid losses and strengthen mitigation, adaptation and reduction of risks associated with floods.

Expert View

Experts in environmental management are of the opinion that government should take proactive steps in addressing the warning of NiMET to prevent the collateral damage that the flood might cause. In his remarks, the Director-General, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Dr. Joseph Onoja, advised the Lagos State government not allow the buildings on floody or swampy areas, noting that this could cause those areas to be flood prone and cause havoc. He urged government to focus on the drainage system which has been bastardized, stating that studies have shown that the drainage system master plan were built objectively before all the new developments in the state.

“Overtime due to government lack of supervision these places has brought a lot of damages and distortions to the plans that have been made and has caused blockage and improper flow of water caused by heavy rainfall,” Onoja said.

He further explained that the government has the power to make things better and prevent these distortions, therefore explained that there is a need for the government to clear some of these houses around those areas because the people living there are in danger and also risking lives of others while extending to areas it shouldn’t go.

He added: “We need to go back to the master plan and government will see where the distortions are and create a solution to curb the disaster. And also we need to work on the drainage system that we have to ensure that they are functional and free from debris. The truth is that whatever strategy that has been put in place do not address the issues that I mentioned earlier it will be difficult for any strategy to work. The best way for any strategy to work is for us to go back to the original plan citing early warning signal to prepare people and prevent accidents.”

LASG Position

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has said flooding on Lagos Island is caused by the effects of climate change and blocked drains in the area.

The Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, said a massive pumping station equipped with high-capacity tanks would be provided.

He said: “A permanent solution to the issue of flooding in Idumagbo, Oroyinyin, Ojo Giwa, and environs on Lagos Island would be put in place before the end of the year, but I want to assure residents that what has been provided at the Ilubirin end, for now, is a temporary measure which takes a minimum of two days to pump water after every heavy rainfall. The major problem responsible for flooding is the depressing nature of the area which has made it difficult for water to naturally drain into the canals. What was experienced in Idumagbo and its environs are the effects of climate change as Lagos is one of the cities projected as one of the sinking cities in the world.

“I advise residents of Lagos Island to desist from dumping refuse into drains and canals and take ownership of the environment by moving against property developers who litter drains with building materials which prevent flowing drains.”

The Deputy Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, urged residents to cooperate with the government to tackle flooding in the area.

“I appeal to residents to cooperate with the state government as it is set to proffer a permanent solution to flooding in the area and promise to use my good office to ensure that adequate funds are allocated by the state House of Assembly for the successful provision of the permanent solution,” he said.

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