The Latin proverb, praemonitus, praemunitus, translated into English means, to be forewarned, is to be forearmed. That is exactly what Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) does every year through its seasonal prediction, on potential rainfall and flooding alert. But those in authority do not listen!
Early this year, NIMET in its seasonal prediction, a report, which was unveiled by the minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, warned that “heavy rainfall may result in flooding, which could disrupt traffic, delay construction activities, and weaken or wash out the soil and culverts that support roads, tunnels, and bridges.”
Similarly, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, NIHSA, warned that nine states are at a high risk of flooding! They also disclosed that the River Niger would rise so high that many towns on its banks will be vulnerable to disaster. The affected states according to the Agency are; Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Rivers, and Bayelsa states. Clement Onyeaso Nze, Director General, NIHSA, who disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja, said the current flood level sighted in Niamey, Niger Republic attained an unprecedented level of 7.02m. The DG also disclosed that based on the report of the expected flood coming down from Niamey and the projected contributions by the inland rivers, flooding was imminent!
Also both Kainji and Jebba Dams built on River Niger has continued to spill water downstream. “The effect of all these is that communities in the states adjoining River Niger will continue to be highly inundated by River flooding as being witnessed in the recent time”, he warned.
Nze recalled that the Annual Flood Outlook (2020 AFO) had predicted that some parts of at least 102 LGAs in 28 States fall within the Highly Probable Flood Risk areas. However, despite these copious warnings, urban and flash floods have continued to wreck havoc in many states including the FCT.
The destructive flooding persists because those in authority fail to take the right steps at the right time. A situation where those in authority, especially the town planning departments and other environmental managers allow development along flood plains is a recipe for future trouble!
Many of our urban areas lack proper urban drainage system and where drainage exists, they are often block by the dumping of refuse on drainage channels which exacerbates flooding when it rains. Also not enough is done by governments at all levels to relocate or resettle those living on river banks or flood plains when NIMET or Hydrological Agency warn of threat posed by impending flooding.
The failure of the authorities to rise up to their responsibility in addressing the threats posed by flooding has cost lives and properties as a few instances will show. No fewer than 18 local governments and 500 communities have been ravaged and submerged by flood, with 30 people killed in Niger State this rainy season.
Releasing the statistics, the director-general of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Inga, said 50, 600 farmers had their farms with crops submerged by flood. The entire Ibaji local government area in Kogi State was submerged by flood bringing unspeakable difficulties to the people. The disaster ravaged farmland, residential areas in Lokoja metropolis, Idah, Kotokarfe, Bassa and Igalamela/Odolu, sending jitters through the spines of those residing along the riverbank. Kogi State is one of the states earlier forecasted for flooding by NIMET this rainy season, just as the agency had severally warned through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) that residents along riverbanks should relocate to high-level areas.
The Kebbi State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) revealed that a total of 52,911 persons have been displaced by the floods which tore farmlands apart in the state. The agency noted that majority of the displaced persons were farmers in the millet, maize and sorghum value chains. Chairman, Kebbi SEMA, Alhaji Sanni Dododo, revealed this during a visit to the State Government by representatives of the Jack Rich Aid Foundation. Out of 21 LGAs in the state, 18 councils have been highly affected, including the 11 LGAs identified by NiMET as flood-prone areas. The chairman also revealed that about 350 hectares of FADAMA farmlands were also submerged in Bagudo LGA due to the overflowing of River Rima from the Tugar Bridge.
Indeed in most parts of the country from Lagos to Maiduguri and Port Harcourt to Kano the damage caused by flooding is unquantifiable. Lives have been lost while properties worth billions of naira destroyed. This is unacceptable when these losses could have been prevented. President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep concern over the heavy floods that took a number of lives, submerged thousands of hectares of farmlands and houses, destroying farm produce and personal belongings in the affected communities. The President should go beyond his concern by collaborating with the state governors to prevent flooding and its attendant consequences.
What can we as a nation do to prevent the annual flood disasters that have cost lives and properties? Like mentioned earlier, one of the causes of flooding is dumping refuse into drainages. With such fact in place, flooding therefore can be prevented through improved drainage. When drainages are improved, there will be easy access for water during rainfall. Flooding can be controlled or prevented when the drainages are improved, because it will help ensure that there is way for easy flow of excess water during and after rainfall. This type of measures could be taken in the urban centres, where there are many cases of flooding problems. The efficacy of drainage may be improved to control flooding.
Building of dikes and levees is one measure of preventing flooding in urban centres. One may wonder what are Dikes and Levees.
These are structures built to control flooding. Dikes are known as flood-control structures, as well as, levees. These structures are built to ensure that, they block and control river flooding, including water surges. What these structures do is to block river water and restrain river any time there is flooding. The engineers, who built dikes and levees, provided man-made or artificial outfall drains, or water channels.
As one of the measures to prevent flooding, canals could be built.
Canals are also artificial outfall drains or water channels. Building of canals prevents flooding. Canals help in facilitating the control of water levels that passed through it.
All said there should be proper planning when building drainages in the urban centres in order to control and prevent flooding. There should also be proper management of dams in the country and beyond our boundaries like in Cameroun and Niger to prevent flooding that emanates from outside our country. It means that there must be synergy between Nigerian officials and their counterparts in Cameroun and Niger to ensure proper management of the dams and improve on the early warning system on impending flood to save lives and properties.