Floods: National Concern without Action

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By Chima Nwafo

Flooding is one environmental disaster that affects all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, in diverse ways and, yet, there is no policy on its mitigation. But when disaster occurs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other relief agencies like the Red Cross are expected to provide relief for victim, for which billions, ala Naija, are announced, but not much gets to the supposed beneficiaries. But until another disaster strikes, nothing is usually heard from FEMA about flash floods, which is more prevalent in the country or flooding of coastal areas when rivers overflow their banks.

Besides FEMA, there is the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) which also issues warning about floods. For example, a recent one in the media after what the institution’s boss described as sensitization workshop, in which people living along river banks in Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states – which the agency designated as high-risk flood corridor – were recently warned to “relocate to safer places ahead of imminent terrestrial flooding which might occur, between July and September 2019.”

As captured in the Daily Trust of July 16, “the Director-General of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency , Engr. Clement Nze, at a recent sensitisation workshop on 2019 flood predictionprevention and mitigation in hydrological areas in Birnin-Kebbi, sought urgent evacuation of people living in the affected states. Nze listed several councils in Sokoto that are flood prone, while in Zamfara, Birnin-Magaji, Kiyawa, Bakura, Bungudu, Shinkafi, Gusau, Kaura Namoda and Maradun are probable flood-risk councils. He added that in Niger State, Agwara, Magama council areas, as well as Musawa and Katsina councils of Katsina State would experience floods”.

In the typical Nigerian style of public service, the people were counseled by the expert to vacate their homes and perhaps, become voluntary internally displaced persons. “We implore the states and stakeholders to relocate people living along waterways, as well as those having socio-economic activities on the flood plains. States and local governments are encouraged to embark on clearing their river channels, canals and drainages to allow for free flow of run-off waters, and construct buffer zones in their respective constituencies to collect runoff waters.”  The NIHSA warning was sequel to recent ugly flooding experiences in parts of the North and Okpoko community in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State where flood destroyed 300 houses, rendering 2,000 residents homeless.

In 2016, NIHSA also announced that there would be flooding in 14 states and urged residents living in flood-prone areas of the states to relocate, during a presentation event then Director-General, Mr. Moses Beckley, tagged 2016 Annual Flood Outlook, in Abuja “and warned that this year’s flooding would be higher than the one experienced in 2015.” On its part, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency publishes a “Drought and Flood Monitoring Bulletin”, which in both design and content is of little attraction to the most uninformed seeker of information. It has an editorial style that affirms repetitiveness; that is if you follow its monthly publication. Take this from its Outlook For July2018 t0 June 2019: “The cumulative rainfall analysis for groundwater monitoring indicated above normal rainfall in the last six months over parts of northern Yobe, Bauchi, Plateau, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Benue, Gombe, Ogun, Lagos, Edo, Delta, Anambra and Cross-river States, causing these locations to record mild-to-extreme wetness. This situation however, favors ground water recharge in the affected areas.” And for its January to July 2019 report: “Due to the continuous northward movement of the ITD in July, rainfall activities are expected to increase over the northern part of the country, while the little dry spell (LDS) is expected over parts of the south. As a result of the observations presented in the maps, dam managers, reservoir operators and other relevant actors are advised to look out for the impacts of flows, recharges and discharges, with probable risk of runoff over northern part of Yobe, etc.” The same states were repeated. For anyone familiar with NIMET weather report, the foregoing captures their house style and mode of presentation.  

Mr. Nwafo

In the typical Nigerian style of public service, the people were counseled by the expert to vacate their homes and perhaps, become voluntary internally displaced persons. “We implore the states and stakeholders to relocate people living along waterways, as well as those having socio-economic activities on the flood plains. States and local governments are encouraged to embark on clearing their river channels, canals and drainages to allow for free flow of run-off waters, and construct buffer zones in their respective constituencies to collect runoff waters.”  The NIHSA warning was sequel to recent ugly flooding experiences in parts of the North and Okpoko community in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State where flood destroyed 300 houses, rendering 2,000 residents homeless.

In 2016, NIHSA also announced that there would be flooding in 14 states and urged residents living in flood-prone areas of the states to relocate, during a presentation event then Director-General, Mr. Moses Beckley, tagged 2016 Annual Flood Outlook, in Abuja “and warned that this year’s flooding would be higher than the one experienced in 2015.” On its part, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency publishes a “Drought and Flood Monitoring Bulletin”, which in both design and content is of little attraction to the most uninformed seeker of information. It has an editorial style that affirms repetitiveness; that is if you follow its monthly publication. Take this from its Outlook For July2018 t0 June 2019: “The cumulative rainfall analysis for groundwater monitoring indicated above normal rainfall in the last six months over parts of northern Yobe, Bauchi, Plateau, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Benue, Gombe, Ogun, Lagos, Edo, Delta, Anambra and Cross-river States, causing these locations to record mild-to-extreme wetness. This situation however, favors ground water recharge in the affected areas.” And for its January to July 2019 report: “Due to the continuous northward movement of the ITD in July, rainfall activities are expected to increase over the northern part of the country, while the little dry spell (LDS) is expected over parts of the south. As a result of the observations presented in the maps, dam managers, reservoir operators and other relevant actors are advised to look out for the impacts of flows, recharges and discharges, with probable risk of runoff over northern part of Yobe, etc.” The same states were repeated. For anyone familiar with NIMET weather report, the foregoing captures their house style and mode of presentation.  

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