Flooding In Nigeria: Action Plans to Mitigate Future Flooding.
Odion Ibadin*, Salma Adam* and Chiwendu Obed*
According to the United Nations, despite contributing the least to it, Africa is the continent worst affected by climate change. Even though the COP27’s agenda outlines the demand for compensation for loss and damages different from the funds for adaptation and mitigation, that demand has mostly been met with silence by developed countries. Governments have repeatedly failed to meet their commitments to the $100 billion fund for climate adaptation and mitigation in the developing world — for the mess their own industries caused.
Africa urgently needs investment in adaptation infrastructure — such as flood prevention systems — to stave off the disasters that destroy communities and cripple economies. In what is fast becoming an annual occurrence, many parts of Nigeria have experienced flooding and the correlating loss of land, lives, and livelihoods.
In 2012, rivers burst their banks and submerged vast lands in 30 states, killing over 400 people and displacing 1.3 million others. That disaster resulted in an estimated $17 billion in damage, according to Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)
- In 2021, Mohammed Mohammed, the former head of NEMA, said a total of 277,555 people were affected by floods, and 158 were killed in 2019.
- By 2020 the number of those affected by floods rose to 2,353,647, resulting in the deaths of 69 people
- Over 600 people have died in the worst flooding the West African nation has seen in a decade.
- The recent spate of flooding has left the country counting losses since early October, as over 2.5 million people are affected.
- Some 1.3 million people have been displaced, more than 200,000 homes have been destroyed, 2,407 are injured, and 612 persons are dead across 25 states that are hard hit by the natural disaster.
- In addition, 176,852 hectares of farmlands were partially damaged, while 392,399 hectares of farmlands were totally damaged.
- Nigeria usually has seasonal flooding, but this year has been significantly worse than usual. The government has said unusually heavy rains and climate change are to blame.
- Based on the recurrence from 2012 to 2019 to 2022, an average of 30 states are affected the most, and the most affected states spring from Anambra, Kogi, Bayelsa, Benue, and Adamawa due to their proximity to the dam and the rivers (Niger and Benue).
What have Organizations and The Nigerian Government Done So Far?
- The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs announced that the Federal Government distributed 12,000 Metric tonnes of food and non-food items to disaster-stricken areas in Anambra State (South) or Jigawa state (North).
- Since the occurrence of the flood in Nigeria, some CSOs such as ActionAid, Christian Aid Plan International, and Care International has called on the Government to declare a state of emergency for Federal and Local lawmakers to speak up on the flood crisis and reallocate some budget to provide assistance to affected areas.
- The Federal Government in Nigeria has also initiated a fund known as the Flood Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund, which was initiated to help combat the flooding situation by providing financial assistance, i.e. loans and business grants to people affected.
- International CSOs have called for the Government declare a state of emergency.
Pat Utomi said that Nigeria must set about constructing a network of dams down the Niger and Benue Rivers to avert floods in the future.
- USAID is providing $ 1 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the flooding in Nigeria. In a report published on USAID's site, disaster experts will continue to monitor the situation, assess needs, and determine the additional assistance needed.
- The International Organization for Migration(IOM) provides emergency shelter and other assistance(blankets, kitchen sets, mattresses, and floor mats) to thousands of people affected by the ongoing deadly flood in Nigeria.
- In times past, IRC has provided aid to over 800,000 people who lost their homes to massive floods in 2012. There is also a cholera outbreak due to the recent flooding, and the IRC is scaling up its response and sanitation, hygiene, and health programming to stop the spread of cholera and save lives.
The flood sequence can be traced back to the release of water from the Lagdo dam, bad drainage systems, and lack of proper enforcement of environmental laws, amongst others. Notably, The Federal Government bears a larger portion of the responsibility to mitigate and respond to natural disasters. This article seeks to provide action plans for the Federal Government of Nigeria to mitigate future flooding in Nigeria:
- Funding for Natural Disasters: Currently, 2.3% derivation of funds is set aside for ecology and disaster management, the sum of N336B for the first half of 2022, which is not up to the N2.6T damage caused by the 2012 floods. Hence, A federal relief assistance fund mechanism jointly managed by the federal and state governments, with a funding plan, should be put in place separate from the ecological funds.
- Proper Infrastructures; Pipe Jacking Technology (Underground drainage) — this was implemented in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to tackle Uyo's Perennial Flood Problem, and it's been quite effective. So deploying this solution across the needed area may be the panacea to this perennial problem.
- Proper land allocation: States should alter and stop allocating land to floodplain areas. In Lokoja, for instance, most developments are unregulated, with building on flood plains without even constructing a drainage system, as in Makurdi, amongst others.
- Proper housing scheme: There is a need to create affordable housing schemes for low-income earners. Most of them have their houses on water because they cannot afford better housing on proper land. Better housing schemes would mitigate the number of affected persons and livelihood.
- Completion and Creation of Dams: World over, dams are constructed mainly for the purposes of irrigation, power generation, and flood control. There's an urgent need for the government to avert a flood disaster in the future by constructing dams at strategic locations to check to flood. There needs to be a better focus on this to avoid the chaotic effect that emerges from the annual release from the dam. A good place to start would be on the starting and completion of dam construction, originally planned for Dasin Village of Fufore Local Government Area of Adamawa State. This project was to contain the flood water that would be released from the Lagdo dam and to prevent the consequences we see today. There is also the uncompleted Zungeru Dam in Niger State, partly funded by the Chinese Government and is also believed to be affecting areas that were once free from flooding.
- Awareness Creation with Solutions: The Nigerian Minister of Humanitarian and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouk, called on local authorities to evacuate people living in the most high-risk areas, but locals are reluctant to go; why? They fear for the security of their properties and also clarity on where to go. The Government needs to create more awareness of Climate Change and declare a state of emergency to protect more lives and properties of citizens in Nigeria.
- Proper enforcement scheme: Blocked drainage prevents water flow, causing floods during the rainy seasons. A proper waste disposal system needs to be installed. We are talking about disposal bins and bags and operative waste management.
- Insurance — the flooding has brought about the loss of lives, property, and livelihood to persons. A proper insurance scheme can help mitigate the burden on these people. We have a typical example in the banking sector by NDIC. a replica in the agricultural and housing scheme sector should be considered.
- Emergency preventive measures: In communities where the flow rate of stormwater is high, embankments should be constructed to break down stormwater so as not to result in floods. These embankments could be permanent or temporary, such as sandbags placed when a flood is imminent.
- Emergency Care Providers; A need to urge the governments to immediately launch life-saving measures by stepping up the search-and-rescue efforts to ensure that trapped communities are immediately evacuated, an action plan to save lives.
Climate change has been seen as a white man problem, but the adverse effect still falls back to our continent. The Federal Government of Nigeria should work hand-in-hand with national or international bodies to develop effective high-tech early-warning systems to mitigate future flooding, and the aspiring new administration needs to prioritize Climate Change in their manifesto ahead of the 2023 elections, as this would help to mitigate future flooding. Encouraging corporate organizations to consider climate matters and affect them in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. Individuals are also to be properly sensitized to the danger of living outside areas mapped as residential areas during natural disasters, as they are prone to be heavily affected by these disasters.