FLOOD alerts have been flowing in torrents from federal, state, and multilateral agencies and apprehension has gripped many communities nationwide. Already, heavy rainfall has been causing havoc in several states, adding to the misery of Nigerians battling poverty, food shortages and insecurity. Having been repeatedly forewarned, the authorities should take urgent, proactive measures to contain, and mitigate the impact of the deluge.
Following from fresh alerts from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, and other federal agencies, the Lagos State Government has also told residents to prepare for flooding in many parts of the coastal state this month.
A notice from the Cameroonian authorities last month on the opening of the Lagdo Dam built on the River Benue in the central African country prompted a flurry of reactions from the Federal Government, including setting up a Presidential Committee chaired by Vice-President Kashim Shettima. Many Nigerian states are vulnerable.
Some South-West states are also forecast to witness flooding arising from heavy rainfall and the release of water from the Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority. The LASG has accordingly put some communities on notice to prepare, urging some to evacuate their homes temporarily.
Since early this year, the Nigeria Metrological Services, Nigeria Hydrological Services, National Emergency Management Agency, as well as the Federal Ministry of Environment, have been issuing regular forecasts of heavy rainfall, and flash floods.
Indications are that the rains have been heavier this year and according to NiMET, are far from over, as more is forecast for September all through to December.
With the ample warning, the sad experiences of the past when floods wreaked havoc in many states, should not reoccur. The three tiers of government should do much more to minimise nature’s rage.
In 2022, floods affected 33 of the 36 states and parts of the Federal Capital Territory. Official figures revealed that 612 persons were killed, over 2,400 others injured, 1.4 million displaced; communities, farms, roads, and bridges destroyed. About 200,000 homes were damaged, and 332,327 hectares of land affected.
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It was the worst flooding in the country since the 2012 disaster when floods ravaged 30 states, killed 363 persons, and displaced about 2.1 million persons. Losses in the 2012 floods were put at about N2.6 trillion, and N4.2 trillion in 2022.
This year, most states are susceptible to flooding with varying degrees of severity. About 14 states are expected to be worst hit. The result of climate change among other factors, 10 states had been affected by August, with 7,000 people displaced, five killed, and 75 injured, NEMA said.
The International Organisation for Migration warns that 4.2 million Nigerians could be displaced and that at least $20 million in standby funding would be needed to provide humanitarian aid.
Residents of flood-prone areas who have been advised to vacate such communities should do so without delay.
Apart from mitigating the effects of climate change and environmental degradation through tree-planting, and the preservation of forests and green areas, there should be comprehensive programmes of building and maintaining drainages by the three tiers of government, and effective town and physical planning. Unregulated urbanisation and conversion of agricultural land should be curbed. Citizens should stop blocking drainages with refuse.
The focus on post-disaster flood response should give way for control as a national priority.
State governments have the major role to play in defending against floods and providing relief, relocation, and rebuilding. Together with the Federal Government, they should put effective measures in place to deal with flooding and avoid casualties. ,
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