How Nigerians are Coping with Flooding

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Nigerians are taking to heart the prediction of an imminent flooding which is already ravaging some states by preparing for a worst case scenario

By Anayo Ezugwu

Adedayo James, a resident of Gowon Estate, in Egbeda, Lagos, did not expect the devastation the torrential downpours across Nigeria between Thursday, September 6 and Monday, September 10, would have on his family. And neither did many Nigerians who were caught in the flooding that followed the rains that sacked many people from their homes.  Some persons were forced to relocate, while others were simply trapped in their houses fearing to go out.

In the case of James, on Friday, September 7, his entire estate was flooded due to poor drainage channels. “The entire area was like a river; it was difficult for us to even leave our houses. The roads are bad, and every exit from the estate was locked down by flood; it was difficult. The Federal Housing Authority, FHA, should go back to the drawing board to give Gowon Estate a facelift; if not, it will soon turn into a slum,’’ he said.

Ayuba is not alone in this predicament. Salome Qedone, a resident of Alimosho area of Lagos, said adjoining streets in her area were flooded, affecting movement. “In my area, all the streets around us were flooded, and because I did not want to walk through the flood which was almost at waist level, I had to take a vehicle across, instead of walking to the bus stop,’’ she said.

A fruit seller in Idi Oro Market in Mushin, who simply identified herself as Iya Ahmed, appealed to government to expand drainage channels in the area. “I have been living in this area and selling in this market for over 15 years and this problem is always like this every year.

“We are always afraid when the cloud gathers because we know that will be the beginning of problems for us both at home and in this market; we want both Lagos State and Federal Government to help us by building big gutters,” she said.

Apart from Lagos, states like Katsina, Ogun, Ondo, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto among others have witnessed different degrees of flooding this year. In Kano, on Sunday, September 9, flooding ravaged no fewer than 400 houses in Bar’kwari community in Dawakin Kudu Local Government Area of the state. Saidu Mohammed, spokesman for Kano State Fire Service, said the flood also affected primary schools, animals and foodstuffs.

He added that firemen were, however, able to rescue the victims. “We received a distress call from Hajia Gambo Usman, who lives in the neighbourhood at about 3:22 p.m., reporting that there was flooding in their area. On receiving the information, we quickly sent our rescue team and a vehicle to the scene at about 3:38 p.m.,” he said.

The official, who said that the flood washed away 400 houses, foodstuffs, animals and schools, added that firemen assisted them by creating way for the water to pass, so as not to affect other houses. Mohammed, however, urged the public to desist from indiscriminate dumping of refuse in order to stop blocking the waterways.

Since January to August this year, more than 141 lives have been lost to rainstorm, wind storm and flood disasters across the country with at least 19,369 persons displaced, while 5,732 houses have been destroyed. According to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, rainstorm and flood disaster in 2018 is the worst in the last six years after the 2012 floods that killed 363 people, displaced 2.1 million people and affected seven million people in 30 of the 36 states.

With the rainy season still on, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and the National Hydrological Services Agencies, NHISA, have warned that 12 states across the country would soon experience flooding due to torrential rain falls.

The two agencies gave the warning on Friday, September 7, during an emergency stakeholders’ meeting.  Clem Nze, director, Engineering Hydrology, NHISA, listed the states to include, Kogi, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Edo, Anambra, Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states, from the River Niger axis.

He also listed Taraba, Benue and Adamawa as states to be affected from the River Benue axis. He warned that the flood might be eminent, noting that all the indices that played out before the 2012 flooding had already manifested.. He said the decision to raise the alarm was to ensure preparedness among stakeholders and residents of flood-prone communities.

Nze revealed that as at Friday, the height of River Niger in Lokoja was at 10.1 meters as against the 9.74 meters in 2012, adding that it continued to rise on hourly basis. He said the water levels were increasing due to the opening of the Shiroro, Kanji and Jebba Dams.

“As at today, our hydrological measuring station downstream the confluence in Lokoja recorded a stage height of 10.1m and a discharge value of 21,326 cubic metres per second. As against lower values of 9.74m and 19,762 cubic meters per second recorded on the corresponding date of 2012 when the flood occurred.

“From the foregoing, it could be said that all the indices that caused the 2012 river flooding have manifested, except spillage of water from the Lagdo Dam. It would be noted that it was on September 29, 2012, that the maximum flood level of 12.840m and the corresponding discharge of 31,692 cubic meters per second were recorded at our station in Lokoja, downstream the confluence.

“By the 2018 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction released earlier in the year, September 28, is the earliest cessation date of rainfall in Sokoto and Katsina while December is the earliest cessation date for the southern coastal cities. The implication of this is that, the northern part of the country should be expecting more rains in the next three weeks,” he said.

On his part, Mustapha Maihaja, director general, NEMA, said the emergency meeting was called following the update on the flood situation received from NHISA which he described as alarming and urgent. He said the meeting would also review the situation with a view to classifying the possible dangers, assess preparedness at individual and collective levels.

He said this was to ensure that every relevant agency was ready for any eventuality, if the water level keeps increasing. “If it is red, surely we should act and part of the acting is the suggestion to set up a committee of five groups of three personnel from various sector to visit the front line states. It is for them to meet with the officials, go down to the villages that are really critically under threat and use all avenues to enlighten them.”

NHSA had on May 11, released the 2018 flood outlooks in 35 states of the country. The outlook projected that Sokoto, Niger, Benue, Anambra, Ogun, Osun, Cross River and Yobe states would have high risks of river flooding. It also indicated that Lagos, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, and Ondo states may experience coastal flooding. It attributed this to a likely rise in the sea level and tidal surge, which would impact fishing and coastal transportation.

As a result of this latest report, the Anambra State government has expressed its readiness to take proactive measures at ensuring control of flooding in the state. Nkem Okeke, deputy governor of the state, said Anambra had earlier designated 28 centres to accommodate the Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, who could be affected by flooding.

Okeke, who stated this while receiving delegation from NEMA in his office at Government House, Awka, said the flooding situation, was a recurrent one that comes up every year. He called on the appropriate bodies to synergise to stem panic among the people during rainy season.

With the latest report from NHISA, it remains to been seen whether Nigerians would take a cue and fully take advantage of the early warning to stay safe from flooding.

– Sept. 14, 2018 @ 15:59 GMT |

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