Flood menace in Nigeria, What is needed to be done – Kolawole Akinmosun

Flood menace in Nigeria have become a normal and re-occurring phenomenon which sometimes has devastating impacts on human livelihoods and infrastructural development. Causes of this problem such as rapid population growth, poor governance, poor drainage facilities and decaying infrastructures, lack of proper environmental planning and management strategies, poor practice of dumping waste/refuse and climate change coupled with inadequate preparedness have been traced and among others, human activities in terms of developmental involvements adjudged to be very important factors in accelerating the rate of this disaster which often leaves in its wake spread of diseases, loss of thousands of lives from various parts of the country and properties worth billions of naira being destroyed. The impacts of floods are more pronounced in low-lying areas. In more recent years, 2011 and 2012 appears to be the worst incidence of flooding in Nigeria with a lot of reported cases indicating how flood menace ravaged affected states of the country when water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon was released.

The usual universal cause of floods is heavy or excessively prolonged rainfall or even both. Flood can manifest along marine coasts from wind-driven storm surges and rain-swollen streams associated with tropical typhoons and hurricanes. Besides, flooding can also occur on the shorelines of large inland lakes. Climate change is also a major cause of flooding and it is an issue that is related to economic, social, cultural and physical environment of any nation. It is a vital environmental factor that shape and re-shape various activities of human beings in a society. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC defines climate change as a change of climate which is attributable directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. Human activities such as industrialization, technology development, urbanization, deforestation, burning fossil and agricultural activities, etc and natural factors such as solar radiation quality and quantity, astronomical position of the earth are notable causes of climate change. Climate change is making weather less predictable, especially in developing countries like Nigeria where facilities to predict and manage weather conditions are not adequate. The unpredictability of rainfall in recent times has caused untold hardship during the raining season. Climate change works in an indirect way to aggravate flooding by altering the pattern of flooding in the flood prone areas. It however go beyond doubt that climate change and its impacts such as increase in sea level have direct impacts on urban and coastal floods, and it has continuously disrupt the social fabric of cities and exacerbates poverty particularly in most developing countries, including Nigeria. People are indeed becoming increasingly vulnerable as the urban population increases and the poor ones are pushed into the fragile areas which are prone to flooding

Remedial and Management strategies of flood control
Flood menaces in Nigeria have been on the increase in recent times. Proactive and preventive options involving structural and non-structural measures need to be adopted and implemented at curbing the menace of floods. The structural measures such as check dams, levees, flood walls and adequate drainage systems will help control periodic inundation in the areas that are liable to flooding in the following ways: (a). The construction of structures for irrigation and the use of excess run-off water for inter-basin transfer as an alternative to absorb excess water from the Cameroons. (b). Check dams will reduce peak flows (c). Levees and flood walls confines flow within predetermined channels (d). Adequate drainage systems will reduce peak flow stages of flood and divert excessive flow. (e). In communities were the rate of flow of storm water is high, embankments should be constructed to breakdown storm water so as not to result into floods. These embankments could be permanent or temporary, such as sandbags placed when a flood is imminent.

Flood menace have ravaged several towns in Nigeria for several decades leaving in its wake loss of thousands of lives and tens of billions of naira worth of properties damaged which calls for holistic urgent action on our part as individuals and that of the government. The importance of sensitizing government at all levels on the reality of climate change and on possible risk reduction strategies is crucial in preventing flood menace in Nigeria. The need for an effective community based early warning system for flood prevention and control for Nigeria cannot be over emphasized. Government at all levels need to shift from being reactive to being proactive in responding to flood menace. There is also need for government at all levels and its agencies to fund and map out contingency plans and emergency preparedness plan to prevent flood outbreak crisis in Nigeria.

Kolawole Akinmosun
27th October 2022

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