Over the past few weeks, Nigeria has been experiencing its worst floods in decades. The flood which has been experienced in about 27 of Nigeria’s 36 states— including Anambra, Kogi, Benue, Rivers, Bayelsa, and Delta states –has caused the death of over 600 people and the displacement of over 1.3 million from their homes. Yet, the worst is not over as the flooding is expected to continue till November.
Videos of life in the flooded states are surfacing online as flooding continues on a high scale. The submergence of houses, shops, and other buildings, the forceful adoption of canoes for transportation to places that would ordinarily not require one, the washing away of asphalt roads, the increase in the number of snake bites as snakes are displaced and the total submergence of bridges, are only a few of the scenarios seen in the videos shared online.
The flood has also trapped hundreds of business owners in different places leaving them unable to save their goods and has also caused the loss of farmlands and livestock.
Nigeria’s flood situation has garnered international attention and caused foreign leaders and international organizations to sympathize with Nigeria and pledge their support.
In a message by King Charles III of the United Kingdom, he mentioned that it saddened him and his wife to hear about the many people who have lost their loved ones and whose lives have been dreadfully affected as a consequence of the devastating floods across Nigeria. The message recalled the couple’s visit to Nigeria and pledged their support to the country.
“However inadequate this may be under such tragic circumstances, our most heartfelt sympathy is with all those who have suffered so much, and our thoughts are with those working to support the recovery efforts.
“I know that the United Kingdom stands in solidarity with Nigeria as you recover from these truly terrible events,” the message read.
Prior to this, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres had also sent sympathies to the government and citizens of Nigeria. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, the secretary general said he was saddened to learn about the recent floods in Africa’s most populous country. He expressed his deepest condolences to the government of Nigeria and the affected families and reiterated the United Nations’ continued commitment to supporting Nigeria in this challenging time.
Cause of Flood
Over the past few weeks, since Nigeria started experiencing flooding, there have been various speculations on what caused the flooding which later expanded to 27 states and could still wreak havoc as it continues till November.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), an agency that focuses on disaster management in all parts of Nigeria, the flood was caused by excess water released in Cameroon from the Lagdo dam.
Mustapha Ahmed, the director-general of NEMA earlier warned in September that between that time and the end of October, the Kainji, Shiroro, and Jebba dams could overflow, with a situation that may worsen due to the release of water from Cameroon, causing flooding in 13 states.
The DG who at the time urged governments of the affected states to identify safe areas for evacuation, and make provisions for food items and other emergency response measures warned that there will have serious consequences on frontline states and communities along the courses of rivers Niger and Benue.
´´Based on our communication with the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, the Lagdo dam operators in the Republic of Cameroon commenced the release of excess water from the reservoir by September 13. We are aware that the released water cascades down to Nigeria through River Benue and its tributaries, thereby inundating communities that have already been impacted by heavy precipitation.´´
Today, all 13 states listed —Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Cross River, Rivers, and Bayelsa— are flooded.
On the other hand, Sulieman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources has recently stated that 80 percent of the floods are caused by rain, a climatic factor. He explained that the dam only contributes 1 percent to the flooding, while the major effect was from ‘water that we are blessed with from God from the sky’.
“This year’s flood, I can assure you, we cannot blame it on Cameroon to be sincere. We’ll continue to have floods on the river Niger and Benue basins. We signed the MOU with the Cameroonian authorities but since then, every year, it is the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) that calls them ‘what is your level in Lagdo?’ he stated.
Earlier this year, The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) during its Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) report had predicted that rainfall amount across the country is expected to be near the long-term average rainfall, ranging from 400 mm to 800 mm in the northern states such as Sokoto, Katsina Jigawa, Yobe and parts of Borno. The agency also predicted that FCT, Nasarawa, Taraba, Kogi, Benue as well as Ekiti, Osun, and Oyo in the southwest are likely to have 1200 mm to 1600 mm, while Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Delta, and Cross River states are predicted to have annual rainfall amounts of 3000 mm and above.
A 2010 paper that tested for a significant trend in rainfall in Nigeria through randomly selected locations in the six geopolitical zones within 30 years (1978-2007) suggested that although there are fewer rainy days, rainstorms are getting more intense, and the total yearly amounts of rainfall have not changed much from previous decades.
Finally, poor urban planning has also been blamed for the flooding in Nigeria. Poor or non-existent drainage systems, increasing urbanization leading to high construction with concrete, poor waste management, and unregulated urban expansion have been said to contribute to the flooding rate in Nigeria.
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