Erosion occurs as a direct impact of flooding. Because of its devastating effect on the environment, it is considered, rightly, as a natural disaster. It is usually a menace that causes unquantifiable loss to the economy. Causes of erosion and flooding vary from the most basic such as natural disasters caused by high rainfalls, poor/blocked drainages to the most complex ones which include poor flood data to lack of institutional frameworks to address the menace. Flood and its effects constitute a perennial problem that seem to have defied solution. A recent study on Flooding and Flood Risk Reduction in Nigeria revealed that over the period 1985 to 2014, flooding in Nigeria has affected more than 11 million lives, with a total of 1100 deaths and property damage exceeding US$17 billion.
The study reflects on critical issues relating to flooding in Nigeria, stating that the menace, which arguably has been more damaging for Nigeria, has worsened recently due to a number of possible factors including rapid population growth, urbanization, poor urban planning and climate change, especially in increased frequency and intensity of rainfall.
It states that attempts to tackle the hazard, appear to be limited by lack of flood data and other remote causes, which are yet to be identified. Available records indicate that floods have been recorded in almost all geopolitical zones in the country.
Experts, in their search for a sustainable solution to the problem of flood and the negative impact of erosion, have consistently argued that more robust and scientific approaches to flood risk reduction such as flood modelling and vulnerability assessment are lacking. There is also the suggestion that to find an answer to the problems of flooding and erosion effort ought to be made to align the focus of flood risk reduction in Nigeria with the objectives of such a task in more developed countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
In recent times, studies have also proved that these hazards are generally linked to poor urban planning and climate change. Just recently, Kaduna State recorded flood menace resulting in the displacement of several families. A similar situation arose in Benue in 2017, which displaced over 100,000 people.
In 2012 Nigeria recorded the worst incidence of flood in over 40 years as it claimed 363 lives and displaced over 2.1 million people as at November 5, 2012. Records by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) revealed that 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states were affected by the floods and affected an estimated total of seven million people. The estimated damages and losses caused by the floods were worth over N2.6 trillion. This menace remains a critical issue which, if not urgently tackled, will bring more devastating impacts on Nigeria’s environment, economy and socio political environment. As a means to addressing this menace, experts stress the need for Nigeria to seek proper flood data as its lack remains a major setback towards tackling flooding in Nigeria, particularly in the rural areas.
Typically, attention has solely rested on general knowledge of the causes, impacts and remedies of flooding. The general view on the matter is that response to the issue has been, at best reactionary, lop-sided and sloppy. We are therefore inclined to argue in favour of a more scientific approach to addressing it. Flood modelling, which drives flood risk management in more developed countries, should be highlighted. In our opinion, there is an urgent need for knowledge-based decision using available information relating to flooding to draw conclusions on possible strategies to be adopted for tackling flooding and also an urgent need for Flood risk communication aimed at creating awareness of flooding and its impacts among the stake holders and the general public.
Without doubt, it has become pertinent that an institutional framework that tackles flooding in Nigeria is desperately needed. In our view, this refers to government’s response procedures which includes policies, regulations, guidelines and agencies engaged in planning and managing flood emergency conditions or in helping victims to cope with and recover speedily from extreme flooding events. Many flood risk based studies argue that these requirements are fundamental to information relating to flood hazard and its consequences and may be sourced from public opinions, expert knowledge, research findings and flood risk/hazard maps of an area.