‘Why proactive measures are needed against flood in Nigeria’
As the rainy season approaches, there is likely going to be fresh memories in the minds of the over 7 million people, who were reportedly affected by the flood incident that happened in the country between July and October 2012. The flood, which was reported as the worst in 40 years, affected 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states and left estimated damages and losses worth N2.6 trillion.
These victims like many others, whose relatives die yearly or lose properties to floods, would have contributed positively to the society but the lack of proactive measures by stakeholders and even at individual level has been blamed for the growing rate of flood across the country.
While states like Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau, and Benue were reported worst hit by flood in recent statistics, maybe if not for the warnings issued by the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) between September-October 2017, stating that the River Niger had reached an orange alert level and further increase in the water levels could lead to floods, the country would have had innocent Nigerians soaked in blood and left homely.
Reportedly, the Nigerian Hydrological Service Agencies (NHSA) who got the alert from the NBA had alerted relevant agencies, especially affected states and local communities on proactive measures.
While, the raining season sets in and Nigerians await forecast from regulatory agencies, the NHSA has again restated that communities in the coastal and riverine areas are under the threat of recurrent coastal flooding and salt-water intrusion, while urban flooding and inundation of flood plains have become commonplace in most of the cities across the country.
Though Nigeria is blessed with numerous rivers and streams, the largest of which are the Transboundary Rivers Niger and Benue, the agency warned that influences of these rivers contributed to flood that are being experienced in some parts of the country.
The NHSA is expected to monitor activities on the nation’s water resource and provide information on the status and trends on location in time and space, extent, dependability, quality and the possibilities of utilisation and control. The body also provides reliable and high quality hydrological and hydrogeological data on a continuous basis.
It is pertinent to note that he issues of hydrological hazards (floods and drought) have increasingly been a major concern all over the World, particularly due to human activities, climate change and rising sea levels. In Nigeria, drought and desertification have been encroaching on arable lands in the northern parts of the country while gully erosion and landslide are taking their toll in the southeast.
NHSA in line with its statutory mandate, which among other functions is to issue forecasts for flood management towards mainstreaming disaster reduction efforts for sustainable socioeconomic development launched its Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) in 2013, with the aim of sensitising the public especially those living in flood prone areas, on probable flooding events and advised them to take proactive measures to avoid loss of live and property.
In 2017 flood forecast scenario, river flooding was forecasted to occur in the following River Basins: Niger, Benue, Sokoto-Rima, Anambra-Imo, Cross River, Niger Delta, Komadougu-Yobe, Ogun-Osun and several other sub-basins of the country, while coastal flooding was forecasted to occur in Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Ondo and Lagos. The Agency also projected flash and urban flooding in Kano, Hadejia, Maiduguri, Yola, Sokoto, Kaduna, Makurdi, Ibadan, Lagos, Port Harcourt and other major cities and towns with poor drainage systems.
Although the prediction indicated that the probable flood area of coverage in 2017 was expected to be lower than that of 2016, flood was however reported in about 21 states namely, Kano, Benue, Ekiti, osun, Akwa-Ibom, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Kogi Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Oyo, Lagos, Plateau, Delta, Edo, Bayelsa, Kastina, Anambra, Cross-River and Sokoto.
The effect and extent of flooding were much more pronounced in Makurdi (Benue State), Lekii, Banana Island (Lagos State), Suleja (Niger State), Okpanam and Oza-Nogogo (Delta State among other places.
NHSA explained that the flooding experienced in Benue State was due largely to the influence of River Benue and major tributaries such as River Mada, Ankwa, Kastina-Ala, Dep and Donga with contributed flows from other smaller tributaries adding that the flood effect was worsened by torrential rainfall of around 1300mm which was an annual average for Sahellan and lasted for more than 72-hr within the catchment in late August 2017 displacing over 100,000 people.
Office for the Coordination Humanitarians affairs also reported that various roads was cut-off in the Borno states as a result of heavy rains making humanitarian activities in various localities near impossible between August and October.
NHSA had highlighted measure that could be taken to mitigate and prevent flood to include sustainable urban drainage systems, relocation of affected people or modification of settlements/residences to withstand floods by putting up flood barriers, improve soil conditions.
Other non-structural measures include publicity and sensitisation campaign, improved synergy and coordination for flood control by relevant government agencies and stakeholders, institutional and capacity development, enhancement of flood monitoring and flood early warning systems, preparation and implementation of flood prevention plan, keeping safe distance from river banks and flood paths, giving consideration to effect of climate change by planting trees at strategic areas, protection of wetlands.
The agency also stressed the need for attitudinal and behavioural changes, enforcement and review of housing; land use, urban and regional planning rules and regulation. Structural measures to be taken include construction of reservoirs, earth dams, detention basins, and buffer zones among others.
Steps that could be taken to mitigate flood also include construction and reinforcement of levees, construction of drainage channels as main component of roads or highway designs and construction, dredging and channelization of river channels, and setting up of flood diversion areas.
NHSA said it has started preparation for the 2018 raining season by rehabilitating its hydrological platforms across the country to ensure effective disaster risk reduction as part of flood management.
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