The states should do well by heeding warnings from NiMet

Jigawa State Government last week confirmed the death of no fewer than 50 persons as a result of flooding in some parts of the state. Hundreds of homes are reportedly submerged or destroyed while thousands of people have been displaced. Yet, the serial tragedies across the state could have been minimised if the residents had heeded the warning of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) which produces the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) annually, and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA). Both had warned of serious flooding in Jigawa in the 2022 Flood Outlook published at the beginning of the year.  

NiMET’s forecast is to advise the government and people of Nigeria on all aspects of weather and climate by providing outlook of various climate variables, such as rainfall and temperature patterns for the year. The information presented in the SCP publication is relevant for policy formulation, planning and decision making by operators, stakeholders and individuals in both private and public sectors in Nigeria. Scientists insist that the state government and other policymakers ought to trust the data produced by these agencies and use the information to save lives by proactively putting in place strategies for mitigation and disaster risk reduction.  

Jigawa, like other states in the country, is affected by extreme weather conditions triggered by climate change. The state’s dire position was captured in a publication, Dutse Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences, in December 2021.The research stated that flooding in Auyo and Miga local government areas is worrisome, particularly because communities in these areas are on the northern bank of Hadejia River, and many of them are at risk of flooding when it rains heavily. This study findings showed that the current trend in the frequency of flood was on the increase, and that the year 2012 (59%) and 2018 (61%) marked the worst with floods occurring four times.   

In Jigawa State, River Hadejia, which splits into three channels flows into the Nguru Lake, the old Hadejia River which joins up with the Jama’are River and the relatively small Burum Gana River, have been known for overflowing seasonally. In the 2018 rainy season, not less than 30 people died following a flood, wind and rainstorms that ravaged several local government areas within the River basin and destroyed over 68,000 hectares of farmlands. About 421 communities across Jahun, Miga, Auyo, Kafin Hausa, Guri and Hadejia LGAs were severely affected.   

Floods have been confirmed to continuously cause huge socio-economic and environmental losses, particularly in Auyo and Miga LGAs, which are on the northern bank of Hadejia River. A seasonal tributary of the Komadugu Yobe, which flows into Lake Chad, many communities within the area are at the risk of seasonal flood. There were also man-made major factors uncovered by the study which include deforestation and lack of flood embankment. Others were poor waste disposal, lack of drainage network and infrastructure in flood-prone areas. There have been no reports of any remediation efforts. 

The 2022 Outlook predicts that there will be coastal flooding due to tidal surge and rise in sea level in many of the states. These ominous signs are gradually becoming a reality, considering the intensity of the rains so far and reports of whole communities being submerged in stormwater. Many Nigerians are still trying to recover from the 2012 floods which killed 363 people and displaced over 2.1 million people, with estimated damage and losses put at N2.6 trillion, by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Thirty of the 36 states were affected by the floods, believed to be the worst in 40 years. We should do everything to avert a recurrence of that tragedy.  

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