by Amusa Temitope Victor
The Clouds are heavy, the sound of rumblings just as if the heavens are arranging the barrels of water about to be released into the planet earth in the form of rains took the sound waves. Some People hurry to catch a cab to their workplace, others drive through the crowded metropolis roads in haste to save them from being drenched, as traders who display their wares for public glare consider to suspend the business of the day as It’s obvious there is no holding back. It’s the rainy season, the answer to the prayers of some residents of the earth and the ‘plague’ to some who perennially experience the aftermath of disasters that accompany the downpour.
Nigeria is no alien to fatal flash floods, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), 5 years ago the floods began in early July, killed 363 people and displaced over 2.1 million people, about 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states was affected by the floods. The incidence of the 2012 floods was termed as the worst in about 40 years and affected an estimated total of about seven million people. It was estimated that the losses and destructions associated with the floods were worth about N2.6 trillion. It is worth mentioning that these seasonal flash floods are sometimes lethal, most especially in overcrowded city suburbs or rural areas, where drainage system is grossly inadequate or does not exist at all
In the same vein mid-year 2012, a lot of coastal and inland cities in Nigeria witnessed heavy downpour of rains. Lagos, Oyo, Plateaus, Delta, Bayelsa, Kogi and Niger State were worst hit, residents were overwhelmed, there was traffic lock-down all around the metropolis of the states affected, in fact stranded commuters had to pay through their noses for the services of the few transporters who are brave enough to risk operating on the flooded roads. A lot of residents had to abandon their homes and scamper for safety, the flood likewise took its toll on the grossly inadequate infrastructures as few link bridges gave way, then came the usual blame game between the people and the government; The people lamented about the gross inadequacies in infrastructure as the responsible cause, while the government expressed displeasure on how the people themselves built on water ways and metropolis drain channels.
A lot of homes were submerged, residents were missing. To provide relief, humanitarian organizations commenced relief efforts to alleviate the sufferings of displaced residents who took refuge in public facilities like schools, sports complexes, and local council buildings. For rural coastal communities, the rivers broke its banks and overflowed rendering over 1 million people homeless and internally displaced. The then Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the release of about 17.6 billion naira to various states and related agencies for disaster response, services relief, residents, and infrastructure rehabilitation as it was fast becoming a national disaster.
Just recently the Nigerian Government has once again sympathized with its citizens on the damages caused by recent floods across the country, especially in Niger and Lagos States. In a news conference at Abuja the federal capital territory, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu said that about 30 states and over 100 local government areas had been categorized as high flood risk areas, which could expect to flood this year. It is therefore imperative to note that if the current trend of events is sustained the days ahead promise to be very difficult for residents of these high-risk areas in Nigeria. There is, therefore, need for urgent and decisive efforts at sensitization of the public on the dangers associated with the abuse of the environment as well as the inexhaustible benefits of planting trees as a major climate action able to mitigate flooding.
Every year in Nigeria, there is an average of 1000 cubic meters precipitation of water with over 760 cubic meters evaporation, resulting in approximately 240 cubic meters as balanced run off with an estimated total surface water of about 328 cubic meters.
Much less than 40 cubic meters of the balance runoff are held in reservoirs, leaving largely more than 250 cubic meters in excess, this surplus water if not properly managed is a pointer to the impending disasters of flooding to come in the coming days.
Climate Change is not a hoax, some parts of the planet are drowning in floods while others are roasting in drought. Worldwide, farmers, municipal authorities, and researchers have observed changing patterns of rainfall, temperature rises, and floods. The past 16 years have been recorded as the hottest in the history of the earth’ existence. Methane, Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are steadily at their peak. The Oceans are warming, glaciers and sea ice are melting faster than projected.
It is evident climate change is real, developing nations are worst hit especially, Africa. The concern, however, is how grievous its effects will be on women, youths, poor and vulnerable population across the continent of Africa. Tomorrow seems gloomy and bleak, uncertainties pervade with looming dangers ahead.
Nigeria, therefore, being the most populous African Nation needs to identify areas where the effects of changing climate will be most felt and set objective and practical goals towards mitigating the effects of climate change.
There is, therefore, an urgent need to embark on environment protection advocacy and sensitization most especially at the level of grassroots and municipalities. There must be stricter enforcement of environmental laws, the era of docile laws and sacred cows is over. Our environment is our common wealth, everyone is affected. We must, therefore, stand firm against pollution and all that can unsettle the balance of our ecosystem. Manufacturing Industries as culprits of high carbon emission footprints must be subject to carbon pricing, this will make these industries seek cleaner alternative energy sources as the burning of fossil fuel is largely responsible for pollution of all kinds; from Land, Water and even Air Pollution. Sanctions should be on deforestation, as our forests remain the sustenance to natures balance. Every local government must as a matter of national policy compliance have a tree planting target for the year, conservatively for every One tree felled, five other trees must be planted in exchange.
Waste burning should be outlawed as toxins are released into the atmosphere, not forgetting also that the burnt ash can likewise disrupt marine life if disposed into water bodies like streams, lakes, and rivers. Or even on occasion of rainfall, such ash can sink into the ground and further cause land pollution.
We should all be agents of attitudinal and societal change towards indiscriminate waste disposal, drains are not trash bins. Dumping of waste in drainage system is simply climbing the palm tree with weak cords, we are the one who will suffer the resulting effects the most because it heightens the chances of flooding. As the popular saying has it that what goes around comes around, the effect of indiscriminate waste disposal returns to the citizens in the form of lethal floods, epidemics like cholera and even diseases like malaria since a blocked drainage system assures mosquitoes of a viable breeding area.
It is, however, needful to say residents must refrain from construction of structures on water channels and drainages. There must be controlled physical development of cities and emerging densely populated areas.
Activities of dredging must be controlled be relevant agencies of government as existing natural water reservoirs are depleted by careless dredging of rivers and streams. With adequate and properly designed drainage systems floods in the urban cities or semi-urban areas can be drastically reduced. Flood Plains must also be protected, as they are only an extension of the natural water space
On the part of the government, there is a need to construct more dams and water reservoirs across the country to avert recurrence of flood incidents in the nearest future. Relief materials should also be made available to residents displaced internally to serve as palliative measures and set the affected people on the path of rehabilitation emotionally and socially.
The government should rather be proactive other than reactive to events of flooding as prevention is better than cure. Funds released as emergency reliefs will go a long way in the provision of effective infrastructures to forestall future recurrences.
For us to achieve much in the area of mitigating climate change as a people, we all must acknowledge that everyone of us has a role to play in matters of the environment, after all its our commonwealth.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Amusa Temitope Victor is an Environmentalist, Social Entrepreneur and Zero-Waste Advocate. He is the Chief Executive Officer, Vicfold Recyclers- A Recycling Firm based in Ilorin Kwara State Nigeria, which Promotes Incentive Motivated Recycling. (www.vicfoldrecyclers.com). He can be reached on +2348094865401 or [email protected]