Flooding has, in the last few years, wreaked havoc on the country. This year may not be different. The Federal Government has given insights into how to address the problem, reports Frank Ikpefan, Abuja.
It has become an annual ritual for the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) to roll out flood forecast for the country every year. The forecast provides information that enables states and some Nigerians living in flood plains to brace up for likely flooding.
The Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) was initiated in 2013 by the Federal Government following the 2012 flood disaster that wreaked havoc in the country, destroying thousands of lives and properties worth millions. Since 2013, NIHSA has continually issued flood warnings and alerts to states.
The country has been at the receiving end of excess water from neighbouring countries because of River Niger which traverses about seven countries and River Benue, both passing through Nigeria.
However, despite their flood forecasts and alert, the country has continuously lost lives and properties to flood every year. This is largely due to noncompliance with the flood alert and warnings of the agency as well as bad environmental practices by Nigerians.
For example, in 2018, about 441,251 people were affected by flood in about 50 Local Government Areas, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.
About 192 people sustained injuries as a result of the flood with a total of 108 lives lost to the disaster. With Kogi (118,199), Kebbi (94,991), Anambra (64,331) and Niger state (51,719) most people affected.
This year, the agency has again issued another alert for states and Nigerians, saying that there is a probability that a total of 600 Local Government Areas will witness flooding when the rainy season begins in full.
The local government include: Katsina – Musawa; Kebbi – Dandi, Kalgo, Koko/Besse, Suru, Aliero, Argungu, Augie, Bagudo, Birnin–Kebbi, Bunza, Ngaski, Shanga; Niger – Borgu, Agwara, Magama, Lapai, Mokwa, Shiroro, Wushishi, Bida, Edati, Gbako, Mashegu, Munya; Sokoto – Sabon Birni, Tambuwal, Wurno,Yabo, Gwadabawa, Goronyo, Isa, Kware, Rabah, Shagari Bodinga, Tureta, Silame, Dange–Shuni, Wurno, Yabo, Wamako; Zamfara – Maru, Talata-Mafara, Zurmi, Birnin-Magaji/ Kiyawa, Bakura, Bungudu Shinkafi, Gusau, Kaura–Namoda, Maradun; Kaduna- Kauru, Soba, Chikun, Igabi, Kaduna South.
Others are: Kwara – Asa, Ilorin West, Oyun, Pategi; Adamawa – Demsa, Fufore, Gombi, Numan, Shelleng, Yola North, Yola South; Gombe – Balanga, Balanga, Dukku, Funakaye, Gombe, Kwami, Nafada; Taraba – Ardo-Kola, Karim Lamido, Jalingo, Lau, Ibi; Nasarawa – Keffi, Nassarawa–Eggon, Keana, Doma, Toto, Nassarawa; Benue – Tarka, Buruku, Guma, Agatu, Tarka; Delta – Aniocha North, Bomadi, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Oshimili North, Oshimili South, Patani, Ughelli South; Rivers – Abua/Odual, Ahoada East, Ahoada West, Akuku-Toru, Andoni, Asari-Toru, Bonny, Gokana, Ogu/Bolo, Okrika, Opobo/Nkoro, Port-Harcourt; Anambra – Anaocha, Awka South, Dunukofia, Njikoka, Ogbaru, Orumba North, Oyi; Imo – Aboh-Mbaise, Ezinihite, Ideato South, Ideato North, Ihitte/Uboma, Isiala Mbaitoli, Isu, Mbaitoli, Nkwerre, Obowo, Okigwe, Orlu, Owerri Municipal, Owerri North, Owerri West, Unuimo; Cross River – Akpabuyo, Bakasi, Biase, Calabar, Ikom, Obubra, and Yalla.
The agency classified the country’s flood scenarios for this year into three categories of vulnerability. The three categories of vulnerability include the highly probable flood risk areas which are to be experienced in 74 LGAs; probable flood risk areas – to be experienced in 279 LGAs, and low flood risk areas – to be experienced in 421 LGAs, making a total of 600 LGAs.
In its 2019 Annual Flood Outlook, which was unveiled in Abuja by the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, on Tuesday, warned that the disaster would emanate from either excessive rainfall or release of water from countries around Rivers Niger and Benue.
It said the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are expected to experience different levels of flooding.
NIHSA’s Director-General, Clement Nze, who broke the news at the unveiling of the AFO report in Abuja, the nation’s capital, said some states may have severe flooding due to a rise in the water levels of Rivers Niger and Benue.
Nze also said major cities, like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Benin, Makurdi, Kaduna, Sokoto and Ibadan, would witness urban flooding as a result of heavy rainfalls this year.
He said: “The three categories of vulnerability include the highly probable flood risk areas – to be experienced in 74 LGAs; probable flood risk areas – to be experienced in 279 LGAs, and low flood risk areas – to be experienced in 421 LGAs.
“All the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory are expected to experience different levels of flooding.
“I can say that we have almost 600 local government areas in Nigeria that could be under the threat of floods in 2019, going by our predictions.
“No person should build structures within the flood plains. People should clean their drainages.
“States and local government areas are encouraged to desilt river channels and canals and construct/create a buffer (or detention basins) in their constituencies to collect run-off waters.
“What is left for Nigeria and stakeholders is to take very seriously our predictions to avert it (urban flooding).”
He stated that the predicted probable flood area coverage in 2019 is expected to be lower than that of 2018.
The DG stated that river flooding was expected in the Niger, Benue, Sokoto-Rima, Anambra, Imo, Cross River, Niger Delta, Komadougu-Yobe and Ogun-Osun River Basins.
Nze said coastal flooding was likely in Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Ondo and Lagos states due to the rise in sea level and tidal surge.
“River flooding is expected in Niger, Benue, Sokoto–Rima, Anambra-Imo, Cross River, Niger Delta, Komadougu-Yobe and Ogun-Osun River basins, while coastal flooding is likely in Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Ondo and Lagos states due to a rise in sea level and tidal surge.
“Flash and urban flooding are forecasted to occur in Ibadan, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Kaduna, Yola, Maiduguri, Makurdi, Hadejia and other major cities due to poor drainage systems,” he added.
The agency said that since it began its prediction in 2013, there had been a decrease in the flood disaster. For example, the agency said that in 2013, it recorded 70 per cent success in its prediction. According to NIHSA, between 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, it recorded 63 per cent, 55 per cent, 53 per cent and 53 per cent successes, adding that its prediction in 2018 recorded 53 per cent success.
It attributed the fall in the degree of manifestation of flood disaster from 2013 to 2018 to positive response measures that were put in place by the government, stakeholders and the citizens.
In its recommendations, the NIHSA stated that to mitigate the impact of flooding, the country should build flood-resilient communities, adding that there was a need to close the knowledge gap around the issue of floods among the decision and policymakers and planners at the national and local levels.
The agency called for improved synergy among all the government agencies whose activities were related to flooding prevention and/or mitigation, as well as the prompt sensitisation of the public on the information contained in the Annual Flood Outlook as a measure for flood early warning and flood disaster prevention.
The agency also recommended the need to educate citizens to imbibe attitudinal change towards warnings for flood prevention by government agencies and desist from unethical traditional culture and beliefs.
It called for the removal of refuse, weeds, water hyacinths and floats from water channels and on all avenues for river run-offs so as to allow free flow of floodwaters. According to the agency, this exercise is to be undertaken down to grassroots levels including local government areas.
The agency also called for the relocation of people living along the water-ways and those that are having socio-economic activities on the flood plains, by the Federal, State and Local Governments.
It encouraged States and Local Governments to desilt river channels and canals and to construct/create a buffer (or detention basins) in their respective constituencies to collects runoff waters.
The agency called for the modification of settlements to withstand floods by putting up flood barriers.
In his address, Adamu stated that the 2019 flood outlook was built on the achievements of the six previous forecasts by the NIHSA.
He said the outcome of forecasts by NIHSA has led to a progressive reduction in the incidences of flood damage in the country through the heeding of warnings by Nigerians to the alert.
He said the government must ensure the control of the flow of water to make it less destructive or totally inconsequential for socio-economic development.
The minister added that the government is working with countries around Rivers Niger and Benue and Lake Chad to control the release of water from their dams.
“The outcome of these forecasts have been the progressive reduction in the incidences of flood damage, not necessarily as a result of reduced flooding, but as a consequence of the timely heeding of the warnings contained therein, by communities, agencies and government at various levels.
“It is envisioned that with adequate funding and establishment of more hydrological stations on our rivers and streams, we will be able to provide more timely and possibly, daily forecasts as well as establish flood alarm systems at high risk and vulnerable areas associated with flood and other extremes of climate.
“We have also been working in partnership with the riparian countries of the Rivers Niger and Benue, as well as the Lake Chad Basin, to control the releases from dams in such a way not to cause havoc in Nigeria,” he added.
The minister said warnings pertaining to flooding should be taken seriously, noting that such warnings could lead to catastrophic consequences if ignored.
“The 2019 AFO serves as an early warning to people and communities located in and near flood plains and other vulnerable areas to put in place the necessary actions that will ameliorate the adverse effects of the flood to lives and properties.
“Therefore, the information contained in it is for all Nigerians and must be communicated in good time in order to save lives and properties from the probable floods that may occur.
“Let me alert Nigerians about the dangers inherent in not taking seriously the warnings and advice in such alerts and other similar forecasts. To do so, will be tantamount to negligence, a complacency that might eventually lead to catastrophic consequences,” he stated.
Adamu, however, suggested that more funds should be provided to enable the ministry, and by extension, the agency intensify its campaign across the country.
“With adequate funding and establishment of more hydrological monitoring stations of our rivers and streams, we will be able to provide timely daily forecasts as well as establish flood alarm systems at high risk and vulnerable areas,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Comfort Ekaro, said the 2019 AFO provides accurate information on the condition and trend of flood occurrences in the country.
According to her, this is required for economic and social development and for maintaining environmental quality.
She said the release of the AFO would provide ample opportunity for enlightenment campaigns in the media for better preparedness on flood mitigation, control and management in flood risks location across the country.
“We commend NIHSA, which is the nodal agency in the area of flood forecasting and alert system for flood management in the country. Nonetheless, it is still very useful and necessary to use this platform to alert the nation on what to still expect in terms of likely flooding extent and severity notwithstanding a number of flash flooding that has already been recorded in different parts of the country due to either anthropogenic activities or high rainfall intensity of long duration,” she added.