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Mobilising against another flood disaster

Nigerians have been warned of an impending flood disaster and Yemi Akinsuyiexamines measures being taken to minimise its possible impact.

The rain, no doubt, is fully here again. Naturally, this God’s blessing comes with many benefits attached to it: Cool weather, agricultural growth, availability of water, as well as other benefits. Some said on a lighter note  that it is during this season of the year that women easily get pregnant . Many more benefits are also attached to this weather type in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.

The other side of the coin, which raining season presents, however,  include tears, anguish, and sorrow which it brings into the lives of many Nigerians. Rainfall, in itself, apart from the wet condition it presents, which most traders would never find funny as its disturbs the free flow of their business, is one of the best weather conditions nature has graciously presented to mankind. But in this clime, flood is one negative effect which constant and heavy rainfall always leaves behind. Mostly affected in this menace are people living in the coastal areas of the country.

These areas include Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Niger, Benue, Sokoto, Yobe, Kogi, and some other states from the northern part of the country.

Surprisingly, states like Oyo, Osun, Anambra, Bauchi, Plateau and the host of others, have experienced terrible flood, so much so that farmlands, houses, cattle, even human beings have been washed away by excess water flow into these areas.

Year by year, Nigerians count their losses to flood. While developed countries are taking the advantages presented by the raining season for their benefits, Nigerians cry and languish inside water that cannot be beneficiary to them. This is despite the fact that these same people lack basic clean water supply.

Although serious rainfall had just started in many parts of the country, some states, which include Oyo State (Ibadan), FCT, Akwa Ibom, Taraba, and some other states have experienced flood .

Just recently, Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, while at the site of devastating flood in Ibadan, the state capital, warned the residents against the blockage of gutters and water channels.

At Karu area of FCT, early this month’s rainfall did not sweep away properties worth millions of naira but an unconfirmed report had it that an Okada rider lost his life to the flood.

In Taraba State, the people counted their losses, as the devastating flood swept away their farmlands as well as their cattle, so also other states had their tales to tell.

While these vulnerable are still thinking of the dangers of swimming in the ocean of fear of possible flooding again this year, the Director General, Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency, NIHSA, Moses Beckley, has confirmed their fear by predicting that there will be flooding in eight major rivers across the country.

The expected areas of flooding in 2017, according to the NIHSA boss, are Niger, Benue, Sokoto-Rima, Anambra-Imo, Cross River, Niger Delta, Komadougu-Yobe, Ogun-Osun and several other sub-basins of the country.

This he said, sounding a note of warning to the residents of these areas to immediately relocate to other places that are not prone to flood.

Speaking at the 2017 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) workshop organised by the agency in Abuja, Beckley said the forum was to create awareness to Nigerians, and advised those living in flood prone areas in particular to relocate to safer areas.

“This outlook forecast is to get the people aware, enlightened, so that they can prepare effectively for what to likely expect from flood incident.

“We in the agency advise those living in these areas to relocate to safety regions having the knowledge of hydrological hazard which floods have caused in previous years in the country,“ he said.

Beckley, however, said that areas to be affected by flood in 2017 were expected to be lower than that of 2016.

He attributed the reason for the fall in degree to necessary precautionary measures taken by the agency and other sisters’ agency like Nigerian Metrological Agency, NIMET, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA among others.

He said early warning was one of the weapons used by these agencies to reduce the effect of the flood in these areas. He added that the agencies also use advocacy by teaching people living in these areas on the need to keep their river flow lines opens at all times.

“It is imperative to note that early warning and sensitization on the high flood risk, Local Government Areas arising from the presentation of 2016 Annual Flood Outlook and complimentary efforts of stakeholders on mitigation have reduced prevented attendant destruction of lives and properties in some of the areas predicted.”

The NIHSA DG gave the statistics of 2016 flood saying 32 out of 36 states were affected, while 118 out of 774 Local Government Areas experienced flood. He said 53 lives were lost to flood incidents.

Beckley explained that the probable flood scenarios for the country are derived from two models, which are the  Geospatial Stream Flow Model (GeoSFM) and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT).

“These models utilized data from the hydrological and hydrogeological station, Data Collection Platforms (DCPs), Seasonal Rainfall Prediction, Satellite Rainfall Data, Digital Elevation Models (DEM) as well as topographical soil or water index balance data and the host of others.

“The 2017 Annual Flood Outlook for Nigeria depicts river and overland flood over large areas of the country. Its main goals are to alert people, communities, agencies, departments and other stakeholders to enhance their preparedness and to motivate vulnerable communities embark on protective measures and other necessary actions to increase safety and reduce potential damages to lives and properties from predicted flood event.

“Nigeria is divided into eight hydrological areas based on the river catchment of the country. The hydrology of Nigeria is dominated by the two major river systems, namely, the Niger-Benue system and the Chad system. Almost all flowing waters in Nigeria empty into the Chad Basin or into the Atlantic Ocean”, the NIHSA boss said.

There are two distinct seasons in Nigeria, the rainy season, which starts from April to October and the dry season which runs from November to March. The average annual rainfall of the country varies and decreasing inland to about1300mm over most of central Nigeria and 500mm in the extreme north.

The main causes of flood in Nigeria, according to NIHSA, are high precipitation, topography (low/flat slopes). Other factors include but are not limited to dam releases by countries upstream of the two major rivers in the country (Niger and Benue), hydraulic structure failure (dams, dykes etc), poor drainage and sometimes high sea levels causing sea surges in the coastal areas.

To say that some Nigerians exhibit nonchalant attitude towards impeding disaster is to say the obvious. Getting prepared for the proverbial raining day is out of it for the people. Some would even go spiritual, claiming that God would protect them, while some would just sit down doing nothing.

Since it is obvious that there must be flooding, Federal government should put in place preventive measures, ensuring that more dams are created to house the excess water.

With these dams in place, there would be more water available for both domestic usage and electricity generation. Residents of these coastal areas, on their own part, should ensure that the drainages are cleared and that they should safeguard their lives first by moving out of the flood prone areas during the rainy season.

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