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Tackle the impending flooding now

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Professor Joseph Terlumun Utsev, while officially unveiling the 2024 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), with the theme: “Promoting the…

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Professor Joseph Terlumun Utsev, while officially unveiling the 2024 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), with the theme: “Promoting the Use of Data Analytics and Modelling for Flood Risk Assessments and Food Security”, in April, this year, indicated that 148 LGAs in 31 states of the federation are at the risk of high flooding, while 249 LGAs in 35 states and the FCT are within moderate flood risk areas. He re-echoed the warning last week while addressing reporters at the State House, Abuja. The states vulnerable, he said, are Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe.

With this, authorities should shake off their lethargy and respond promptly to the warning. They can do this through measures that can limit the effects of this natural phenomenon on both the people and the environment.

Many incidents of flooding have already been reported in many parts of the country. The affected states include Lagos, Ogun, FCT and Jigawa. The downpour that caused floods in Lagos last week has already created much fear about what may likely happen when the rains reach their peak. In hindsight, some of the destruction could have been avoided or mitigated if proper environmental rules had been observed and the authorities had not been lax in enforcing building codes. The huge impact of the flooding across many parts of the country in 2012 is fresh in our memory. It affected 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states. The floods were termed as the worst in 40 years and adversely affected an estimated seven million people. The estimated damage and losses caused by the floods were put at N2.6trn. In 2023, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) also reported that as of October, 2023, 157,159 people were affected nationwide, with 68,000 displaced.

Flooding has indeed become a seasonal occurrence in most parts of the country. NEMA has also warned that more flooding will be experienced. The agency’s Director General (DG), Zubaida Umar, reiterated the warning recently in Awka, Anambra State, during a 2024 flood warning sensitisation programme.

Authorities have also warned residents of various towns and cities across the country that the constant blockage of water channels is a severe risk factor for flooding. Drains and sewage lines in many towns and cities have been turned into refuse dumpsites, while people continue to build on sewage and water channels.

Again, government at the state and local levels are not doing enough in waste collection and disposal, thus making it easier for drains to get blocked with refuse, thereby leading to floods.

Either by design or default, permits are given to developers to erect structures that interfere with waterways. A good example is the Trademore Estate in Abuja, where flooding has become a recurring decimal; sometimes resulting in loss of lives.

State governments and the FCT Administration (FCTA) can avert future flood incidents if they begin the process of identifying and clearing all waterways in the major cities and towns and clear them. Government at all levels must also ensure that property developers adhere strictly to building codes, which should be updated and brought in line with new environmental trends. It is also the duty of municipal authorities to construct culverts, drainage channels and storm drains in cities.

It is time to intensify efforts at educating people on the need to free drains of blockages to allow unhindered flow of water. Training of people on how to respond in times of flood incidents is also important. The cooperation of community leaders is equally required for meaningful impact.

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