In 2012, Nigeria lost 431 people to flooding incidents that also displaced 1.2 million people across 30 states. The flooding disaster affected over seven million people with losses estimated at ₦2.6 trillion. The 2012 floods were the worst Nigeria had seen in 40 years and no other year has touched the hem of its garment since then, until 2022.
[Image source: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde]
For months, many communities in Nigeria have received August visitors in the form of destructive floods. These floods have forced thousands of people out of their homes.
No Noah’s ark. Only Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State in a canoe with his film crew
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported that 33 Nigerian states recorded flood incidents between January and August 2022. These incidents affected 508,000 people, including 372 that died. NEMA also reported at least 277 people were injured during these floods. The devastation destroyed 37,633 homes and caused the loss of livestock. But the figures NEMA reported aren’t even close to the devastation state officials have reported.
[Image source: AP Photo]
Anambra State also reported the displacement of 651,053 people after floods submerged houses, farmlands, schools, health centres, police stations and other critical infrastructure.
The floods also affected over 31,000 people over the course of six months and displaced 6,592 residents across 255 communities in Yobe State. The incidents resulted in the death of 75 people and the destruction of houses and livestock worth millions of naira.
At least seven people were reported dead when flash floods affected many communities in Lagos State in July. In August, more than 50 people lost their lives in floods triggered by heavy rainfalls in dozens of communities in Jigawa State. In the same month, at least 10 people died and thousands were displaced in flood incidents in Adamawa State. More than 3,000 people were displaced in Jabilamba community alone.
[Image source: Twitter/@AlejiOjay]
The Bayelsa State government recently announced what it called “a flood break” for schools to shut down while water levels recede. This break will last for six weeks between October and November. The goal of the break is to safeguard the lives of teachers and students living in the predominantly riverine areas of the state.
Tragic flood incidents have also been recorded in Borno, Ebonyi, Rivers, Niger, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Bauchi, Taraba, Delta, Kano, Gombe, Benue, Cross River and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Everywhere floods have shown up across Nigeria, there’s chaos.
What’s causing the flooding?
Nigeria’s struggle with flooding this year isn’t much of a surprise to authorities as it was covered in the 2022 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction report released in February by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).
Many of the affected states have been hit by flash floods caused by heavy rainfall, especially in communities close to water bodies. But the most recent flooding incidents have worsened with the September 13 release of excess water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon. The excess water travels through the River Benue and its tributaries to wreak havoc on riverine communities in Nigeria. Nigerian officials expect the effect of the release from the dam to last till the end of October.
The release of excess water from Kiri Dam in Adamawa is having the same effect on the crisis. The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) has also warned that the overflowing of the inland reservoirs in Nigeria including Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro dams will worsen the severity of the floods until the end of October.
What’s the government doing?
[Image source: NEMA]
The government’s strategy in engaging with the flooding crisis includes
1. Enlightenment of people in at-risk communities.
2. Proper channeling of water bodies.
3. Providing temporary shelters for displaced people.
4. Providing relief items for the victims.
[Image source: NEMA]
How citizens can help to reduce flooding
Outside of what the government should do to prevent future flood disasters, citizens can ease the flooding crisis by
1. Not blocking waterways with garbage.
2. Always clearing drainages.
3. Not constructing buildings on waterways.
4. Vacating to safer, higher grounds, for those living along river banks.
The floods haven’t only claimed lives and displaced tens of thousands of Nigerians, but also devastated communities and socioeconomic activities. When the invasive floods eventually recede, Nigerians should demand answers from all levels of government on why they didn’t do more to prevent a foretold crisis.