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Now that the floods are here

With the skies opening up over Nigeria, and torrential rainfall pouring down to pound home nature`s fury, it is undeniably that time of the year…

With the skies opening up over Nigeria, and torrential rainfall pouring down to pound home nature`s fury, it is undeniably that time of the year when many Nigerians have to add economic uncertainty to the real possibility of getting swept away by furious floods. The country is not yet into the heart of the rainy season, but already, it can count the costs of torrential rainfalls. 

Sani Yusuf, the executive secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) for Jigawa State,  recently disclosed that  at least 50 people recently died and many displaced after recent torrential  rains caused flooding  in many parts of northern Nigeria. 

According to Yusuf, about 237 homes were damaged in the Balangu area of Dutse, the state capital, with the situation forcing many into temporary camps.  He said 11 temporary camps have been set up for those displaced. 

On a recent visit to the Jigawa State to distribute relief materials, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Farouq, lamented the fact that the flooding in the state and other parts of the North have become perennial, affecting schools, households and the livelihoods of many. 

As the world continues to hobble towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development  and the  Climate Action Plan 2050,  what has become all too clear for the world to see is that  climate change has become an existential threat, not just to the environment, but to people the world over, especially those who by reasons of poverty remain the most vulnerable. 

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, but since the 1800s, human activities  have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil and gas) which produces heat-trapping gasses. 

The main effects of climate change would be more intense and frequent droughts, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and warming oceans. These can directly harm animals, destroy the places they live, and wreak havoc on people`s livelihoods and communities. 

Currently, the earth is already about 1.1 degrees centigrade higher than it was in the late 1800s, and emissions continue to rise. To keep global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees centigrade – as called for in the Paris Agreement – emissions need to be reduced by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. 

The Paris Agreement requires that countries reach global peaking of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century. 

Since conclusive data has shown that the world`s poorest people who contribute next to nothing to climate change are those most as risk from climate change, curbing climate change which induces the floods threatening to overrun Northern Nigeria has irreducibly become a question of justice. 

 Net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests for instance. 

Transitioning to net zero is no doubt a formidable global challenge. The gauntlet it throws down for humanity is to radically transform how production, consumption and even transportation is done. 

The energy sector contributes to about three-quarters of greenhouse  gas emissions and holds the key to  averting the worst effects of  climate change.  

Replacing polluting coal, gas and oil-fired power with energy from renewable sources, such as wind or solar, would dramatically reduce carbon emissions. 

For many poor families in Jigawa and across many other states in Nigeria, every year, the rains come with a promise of floods and displacement. 

The Nigeria Meteorological Agency has been big on early warning signs as a way of checking the menace as other measures could prove too expensive or ineffective in the long run. 

Beyond providing relief materials for people sacked by floods, warning them early enough to evacuate and helping them to resettle can go a long way in checking the menace. 


Kene Obiezu, keneobiezu@gmail.com