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PREPARING AGAINST 2023 FLOODS
The authorities should put in place effective means of cushioning the impact of floods
In 2022, large scale floods, helped by indifference in some places, cost the nation more than 600 lives in one of the worst disasters across the country. But in what has become an annual routine, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) has highlighted the 2023 Annual Flood Outlook in Nigeria for policy formation, planning and decision making. It is important that the various climate variables such as rainfall and temperature patterns in the forecast are treated with seriousness to save lives.
Even though this year’s forecast is not as dire as the previous one, flash and urban floods would be experienced in urban city centres across the country. Among the cities cited, for instance, are Lagos, Kaduna, Suleija, Gombe, Yola, Makurdi, Lafia, Asaba, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa and Ibadan. Others are Abeokuta. Benin City, Bernin Kebbi, Sokoto, Lokoja, Maiduguri, Kano, Osogbo, Ado-Ekiti, Abakaliki, Awka, Nsukka, Calabar and Owerri. Besides, the report predicted coastal flooding in Cross River, Delta, Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Rivers, and Bayelsa States due to rise in sea level and tidal surge which would impact fishing, wildlife habitation and river navigation. Bayelsa suffered staggering costs due to last year’s flooding which submerged communities, displaced hundreds of thousand residents, and laid waste wide expanse of farmlands.
Overall, according to the NIHSA, a total of 178 local government areas in 32 states and the Federal Capital Territory would be at risk of high floods. The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu added that 224 local government areas in 35 states of the federation including the FCT “fall within the moderately probable flood risk areas” while the remaining 402 local government areas fall within “the probable flood risk areas.”
With revelation that the rains would come as early as this week, Bayelsa, Lagos, and other states, as well as the FCT must do well to audit the plans to make them work better. The states must avoid the lukewarm attitude displayed towards last year’s forecast, particularly with increase in global warming activities. Climate change is fuelling devastating floods across many cities in Nigeria. Indeed, for a while, there have been seasonal flash floods during the annual rainy seasons which destroy property in towns and cities and are sometimes fatal, especially in the rural areas and overcrowded slums, where drainage is poor. According to NIMET’s Director General, Mansur Matazu, climate change is due to increasing temperature and “increased temperature means the atmosphere will be pregnant and contain more water in the form of vapour.”
The catastrophic effects of the 2022 floods should serve as a lesson for effective strategic planning to avert further loss of lives and property. The federal government, in addition to embarking on massive enlightenment campaigns, must include contingency plans to evacuate people to higher ground, while provisions for fresh drinking water and other necessities are made to avert outbreak of diseases. The Ecological Fund that has not been effectively deployed over the years must be put into good use to mitigate the problems.
The failure of the Ecological Fund to make a desired impact is also the reason communities in the nation’s coastal areas are being washed away, and it is probably a reason the government is unable to build the tree-barrier, known as the Great Green Wall, to keep the desert in check. The avoidable deaths and devastation caused by the 2012 and 2022 flooding is refusing to go away, particularly in the minds and hearts of those who took direct hit. But the impact of global warming can be cushioned by good personal and political decisions.