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Addressing Flooding Menace This Rainy Season

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Most of the country is experiencing heavy rainfall in this rainy season, which is often accompanied by flooding.

Recently many Lagosians took to social media to bemoan the recurrent flooding problem in the state after heavy rainfall. The state is always in a familiar mess during rainy seasons as many parts are submerged in flood due to a terrible drainage system, causing difficulty for motorists and residents of different parts of the state. The flooded roads led to traffic lockdown across the state.

The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) also reported the collapse of two buildings, one in Abule Egba and the other near Ladipo Bus Stop in Oshodi. Flooding during the rainy season is not only a Lagos problem. It is a national problem, sadly governments at all levels rarely prepare adequately for its seasonal occurrence. Flooding and means of addressing its challenges are critical issues that should be of concern to government and stakeholders. Evidently, Nigeria has experienced devastating floods which affected millions people and caused fiscal losses amounting to billions of Naira. These hazards were generally linked to poor urban planning and climate change especially in increased frequency and intensity of rainfall.

The impacts of floods in Nigeria include mortality, physical injuries, widespread infection and vector-borne diseases, social disorders, homelessness, food insecurity, economic losses (mainly through destruction of farmlands, social and urban infrastructure) and economic disruption (most notably in oil exploration in the Niger delta, traffic congestion in many cities in Nigeria, disruption in telecommunication and power supply).

In 2012, Nigeria experienced the worst flooding in more than 40 years as a result of heavy rainfall that lasted for many days. The incidence affected 32 states with 24 considered severely affected. The floods extended from July to October that year and affected 7.7 million people with more than 2 million others reckoned as internally displaced (IDPs). More than 5000 people were physically injured along with over 5900 houses which were destroyed. Very few lessons, if any had been learned by the various state governments from the 2012 flooding, as we are back to the familiar territory of flooded towns, cities, farmlands among others at this time of the year.

According to experts flooding in Nigeria are fluvial, coastal and pluvial in nature and have been a major cause of concern for rural areas and cities within the country. Fluvial and coastal flooding both of which affected mainly coastal environments were influenced by seasonal interruption of major rivers and water overtopping their natural and artificial defences and overflowing areas not typically submerged. Fluvial floods account for the majority of the flood threats experienced in locations along the plains adjoining major rivers in the country, including rivers Niger, Benue and Hadeja. The states in Nigeria mostly affected by such floods are Adamawa, Kano,

Niger, Jigawa, Kaduna, Cross River and Kebbi. The worst fluvial flood in Nigeria was the Kaduna flood disaster of 2006 which affected hundreds of thousands of human lives with economic loss worth millions of Naira. Coastal floods in Nigeria affect the low-lying areas in the southern part of the country (comprising for examples Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Akwa-Ibom and Bayelsa states). The impacts of such floods have been severe due to the number of human populations exposed following the attractions of coastal areas for economic and social reasons.

Pluvial floods usually occur annually during rainy seasons (between July and October) and affect mainly the urban areas in Nigeria. Such floods which are arguably unprecedented in recent times are caused by more frequent and severe rainfall which overwhelms the efficiency of drainage systems and soil infiltration capacity.

A major challenge with rapid population growth and urbanization in Nigeria which also seems to influence the risk of flooding in the country both presently and in the future (if not addressed) has been poor urban planning (in particular inadequate drainage system and the range of poorly serviced urban utilities). Urbanization in Nigeria has not to been accompanied by corresponding strategies to support humanitarian needs and anthropogenic activities.

The influence of climate change and anthropogenic activities, poor urban planning and environmental management on the widespread flooding in Nigerian cities has been neglected and needs to be addressed by all levels of government.

While the lack of definite measures and capacity to radically address

the challenges of flooding within the country has been arguably overwhelming, concerted efforts in the form of environmental and infrastructural planning, policy directives, social responses, physical intervention and enhanced public enlightenment programmes, vital to tackling the prevailing flood hazard in the country have to be considered so that Nigerians do not have to dread the rainy season which is also vital for farming and food security.

Other vital tools needed to address flooding in Nigeria are community based early warning systems, humanitarian aids from government and private sectors, and appropriate level of preparedness and capacity building. The need for science and technology to embrace environmental education in Nigeria is hereby advocated. Flood hazard mapping and assessment of vulnerabilities of lives and properties to flooding are important procedures factors, which play key roles towards building community resilience to flooding. The importance of reinforcing present strength and capacities of all agencies, including local communities within Nigeria to deal with flood hazard situations cannot be overemphasized.

Since most of our towns and cities grew organically without planning, it is therefore necessary for state government to embark on deliberate urban renewal projects that would include good drainage systems that would forestall flooding in the cities and urban areas. This would save the resources that are destroyed every year by flooding. It would also save lives usually lost to flooding.

 

–Aluta Continua

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