Nigeria is witnessing one of the most severe cases of seasonal floods in a decade resulting in the loss of lives, destruction of infrastructure and large-scale displacement of affected persons. Statistics released by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs reveal a death toll of over 600, 2,400 reported injuries, and 1.4 million displacements as a result of the floods. Over 200,000 buildings in the affected communities have been completely submerged with residents only able to move around their neighbourhoods by canoe or local floating rafts.
This current plague in the world’s most populous black nation has been linked to unusually heavy rainfalls which is a direct consequence of climate change as indicated in the policy document of The Federal Ministry of Environment. This position was also echoed by The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale who in a press briefing last week, stated that climate change is having a devastating effect on Nigeria.
The devastating floods have also been attributed to the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam, located in Northern Cameroon. According to the National Emergency Agency, “the released water cascades down to Nigeria through River Benue and its tributaries thereby inundating communities that have already been impacted by heavy precipitation”. Flooding has also been worsened to a considerable extent by people building houses across waterways and throwing rubbish into drainages. This is because such actions have an impact on the free flow of water through such locations.
In terms of government preparedness and readiness for the flood, a lot is still yet to be said. Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, lays the blame squarely on other government agencies when she tweeted that. “There was enough warning and information about the 2022 flood, but states, local governments, and towns appear not to have heeded.” The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Nigerian Red Cross appear to be doing their best to assist people during this difficult time, but the efforts look to be outweighing them as the affected areas grow larger.
The flood crisis in Nigeria has become everyone’s problem, and it is projected to have a disastrous impact on major economic sectors. So far, the flood has devastated almost 440,000 hectares of farmlands. This suggests that the already worrisome situation of food scarcity could be worsened next year. The pre-existing problems of shortages in food supply and rising food prices across the country due to prolonged border closures and security challenges will no doubt be exacerbated by this season’s flood in food baskets states such as Benue and Kogi.
The oil sector is another economic area that has been impacted by floods. The Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) announced “Force Majeure” a few days ago owing to massive flooding that has disrupted its operations. With key oil-producing states like Delta, Rivers, and Bayelsa hit by the floods, the country’s main source of revenue is likely to suffer. Nigeria relies on its oil exports to support its budget and govern the country. This has already been cut short due to growing oil theft. However, the floods will most likely slow things down as well. Fuel queues have returned in various areas, including the Federal Capital Territory, due to the difficulty in getting petroleum products from the south to the north.
The question on most people’s minds, though, will be what is the solution to the flooding caused by increasing rainfall. Climate change is real and unavoidable. The Nigerian government must begin taking the necessary steps to mitigate the effects of climate change on the country. Furthermore, new dams along the River Benue axis are necessary. This may be a short-term solution because it might not be able to contain the high levels of water caused by the heavy rains, but it will help to slow down the catastrophic effect while also assisting in hydroelectric power generation.
Finally, we as citizens must be responsible and take measures within our power to prevent flooding where possible. Nigerians must stop erecting structures near waterways and dumping refuse into drainages since this inhibits the free flow of water in various locations thus contributing to the occurrence of devastating floods.
The Floods In Nigeria and A Way Forward