Flooding projections: Developing architecture of response against disasters

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Problems which have remained largely recurrent by virtue of their status been left unaddressed are common place in Nigeria. These problems would largely be found in all sectors and facets of the Nigerian entity. For the environment, one common phenomenon which has been overlooked overtime, but which has recorded losses of irredeemable damages is flooding.

The annual records of flood incidents with associated damages and losses across the Country keep on taking toll year-in-year-out. While flooding is known to be a phenomenon that can be found taking its course in communities in any nation around the world, the Nigerian case has been troubling with poor attention to address the disaster, particularly, where they are mostly preventable and man-made at large.

Developing infrastructures and enhanced formation of urban and physical planning framework to manage flood, particularly for torrential downpours, have been left with deficits over years in the Country. While issues having to do with bad culture of residents to environmental concerns are much in view and cannot be displaced as contributory factors, particularly at the urban fronts, yet more subjects of concern having to do with the responsibilities and duties of the Government are loudly on high resonance. For instance, strategic enforcement and enlightenment campaigns are roles the government have to play on such cases as indiscriminate dumping of refuse, which has been noted to be a major cause of flooding, particularly at the urban fronts.

On this, enlightenment is essential to build a campaign train to sensitise residents of threat areas on the dangers of odious disposition to environmental concerns, such as the indiscriminate dumping of refuse, and on the other hand, enforcement to effect punitive measures as deterrent against hard-headed persons flaunting rules and regulations. For instance, as the need to awake to apply the use of rod against ill disposition to indiscriminate dumping of waste became glaring to the Lagos State Government, an enforcement operation led by the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA),   recorded in the last one year (August 2021 – August 2022) conviction of no less than 4,283 persons meted with penalties, ranging from fines to sweeping of roads and incarceration, having been found guilty of committing various forms of offences relating to indiscriminate disposal of waste in Lagos.  The breakdown of the figure include 83 persons who were convicted and jailed, over 1,200 penalised for sweeping and over 3,000 fined – all for waste related offences.

It is indisputable that such would serve as deterrent to residents ill-disposed to management and sustenance of the environment,predisposed to flaunting laws and order. Such enforcement is pertinent for a metropolitan State as Lagos with urban communities in the entire city with challenges of blockage of drainages system by indiscriminate dumping of waste, among others.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had disclosed on 13th, July 2022, that a flooding that occurred in Lagos during the proceeding  weekend claimed seven lives. “The post-emergency phase assessment after the unprecedented rainfall of Friday, July 8 and Saturday, July 9, 2022, has revealed that about seven people – three children of the same parent and four adults – died. About eight lives were also saved during the period, as a result of the flooding that was witnessed during the two-day continuous rainfall,” the Zonal Coordinator, South West, NEMA, Mr Ibrahim Farinloye had said. The siblings, Michael, 18; Elizabeth, 17 and Timi, 14, were swept away while trying to relocate from their room to a main church structure where they reside.

“The community leaders also informed NEMA that in the same community, four siblings were also swept away on the same day, but that the community members rallied round and rescued all of them. An appeal was made to them that for the rest of the year, the community must embark on awareness and sensitisation on safe actions, to avoid the situation that they experienced. during the period,” Farinloye had further said in the statement.

He listed the flooded communities as Oke Isagun, Agbado Oke, Oko Local Council Development Areas, all in Alimosho Local Government Area. He said representatives of Progressive Community Development Area, who conducted the agency around the affected communities briefed NEMA that rainwater from Meiran, Abbatoir, Alagbado, Agege and Tollgate converged in their community.

However, Lagos was not the only victim, as same period in July while Lagos recorded seven, two male adults were swept away while trying to cross over a road along Alagbole-Akute Road by Four Gate Hotel, Akute in Ogun State, a border community to Lagos State.

The ugly events speak to the significance of emergency approach to develop overarching measures to prevent future occurrences of such mishaps. It is believed that while torrential and heavy downpour of rain cannot be ruled out, yet they can be managed from constituting disasters to prevent the tolls of losses taking records yearly.   The projections of more incidents of flooding have been given to further take course this year. For instance,  the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted excessive rainfall in northern states of Nigeria, including Katsina, Borno, Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa, Gombe, Yobe, Bauchi and Adamawa, which is likely to make them experience flooding in August, September and October this year. The Director-General of the agency, Professor Mansur Matazu, while addressing journalists at NiMet’s headquarters, Abuja, on Tuesday had further mentioned that parts of Kebbi, Zamfara, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Taraba and Yobe States may face medium risk of experiencing flooding within the same period. Matazu also identified the South-Western states of Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and parts of Ekiti and Edo states in South-South as areas likely to experience normal to abnormal rainfall within the same period.

It is essential for the National Emergency Management Agency as well as those of the States particularly highlighted above in the projections, to intensify adaptation, mitigation and other response mechanisms to foreclose eventualities of flood disasters that may lead to  human and economic losses. The necessity to commence and/or strengthen, as the case may be, awareness campaigns is pertinent. Leveraging response strategies by engaging field extension workers for possible response activities in preparation, particularly for high risk areas is pertinent.

Insensitivity to the significance of hydrological and meteorological, as well as urban and physical planning architectures, have been noted to be responsible for major environmental disasters in the Country, particularly flooding, experienced recurrently across states in the Country. To prevent the occurrences of mishaps from such disasters as flooding, critical attention must be paid to the mechanisms of these architectures, while displaying  responsiveness to building these structures remains pertinent. Such responsiveness demands conscious efforts that must be sustained and  developed for a long lasting solution to problem of flooding, among other disasters.