Preparing for the 2022 flood – Thisday

It’s time to make good use of the ecological fund

Recent data by the federal government in the 2022 Annual Flood Outlook collated by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) should put everyone on red alert. It predicts that there will be coastal flooding due to tidal surge and rise in sea level in Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Lagos, Ogun, and Ondo States. The outlook does not also look good, particularly for Adamawa, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, and Ebonyi. Others are Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Osun, Oyo, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara and the Federal Capital Territory. The unmistakable impact of climate change crisis can be felt everywhere in Nigeria.

Ordinarily, heavy rainfall over a short period of time can cause flash floods or moderate rainfall over several days can overflow rivers or dams. According to NIHSA, at least 32 states and 233 local governments are at high risk of being flooded due to heavy downpours during the ongoing rainy season. There are ominous signs in all these states that the prediction is gradually becoming a reality, considering the intensity of the rains so far and reports of whole communities in some states being submerged by storm water.

Anytime the federal government’s weather agencies post these predictions of extreme flooding, there is always trepidation triggered by the possibility of a repeat of the 2012 floods that killed 363 people and displaced over 2.1 million people. Estimated damage and losses caused by the floods were N2.6 trillion, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Thirty of the 36 states were affected by the floods, believed to be the worst in 40 years. In other states like Adamawa and Taraba, hundreds of homes and farms were submerged due to the rage of nature. Since then, there have been seasonal flash floods during its annual rainy seasons that destroy property in towns and cities and are sometimes lethal, especially in the rural areas and overcrowded slums, where drainage is poor or does not exist at all.

Environmentalists find it painfully worrisome that the Ecological Fund that has not been effectively deployed over the years since it has achieved too little in terms of adaptation to climatic issues and to mitigation of the problems. It does not make sense as the huge funds do not match the scrawny drains built in communities to lead storm water to nowhere, as they are ill-conceived, poorly designed and programmed to fail for reasons of corruption. The beneficiaries of this fund are the Ecological Fund Office (EFO), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW) and the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC).

The failure of the Ecological Fund to make a desired impact is also the reason communities in the nation’s coastal areas are being washed away, and it is probably a reason the government is unable to build the tree-barrier, known as the Great Green Wall, to keep the desert in check. The avoidable deaths and devastation caused by the 2012 flooding is refusing to go away, particularly in the minds and hearts of those who took direct hit. Naturally, the government is known to react to these disasters, but Nigerians wish there would be mitigation plans in anticipation of these unusual nature events.

Considering the dire predictions in the 2022 Flood Outlook, Lagos, and other states, as well as the FCT must audit the plans to make them work better. The federal government, in addition to embarking on massive enlightenment campaigns, must include contingency plans to evacuate people to higher ground, and providing fresh drinking water to avert outbreak of diseases. The damaging impact of global warming can be cushioned by good personal and political decisions.

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