Every last season of the year or the first in the succeeding year is known as the Harmattan season. But this season, despite its advantages, brings about anxiety; TOPE SUNDAY writes.
According to Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, the season of Harmattan, from the Twi word harmattan, originated from the dry and dusty harmattan trade winds that blow from the Sahara desert over West Africa.
Also, like a last child, harmattan season is the last season in a year and the first in the succeeding year. The season, which occurs between November and March, comes with noticeable dry and dusty weather with bursts of cold air in the mornings and nights and high temperatures during the afternoons.
According to weather and climate.com, the climate of Nigeria is tropical; however, there are wide climatic variations in different regions of the country. Near the coast temperatures rarely exceed 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit), but humidity is very high and nights are very hot. Inland there are two different seasons.
It stated that a wet season from April to October, with lower monthly temperatures and the wettest month being June. Also a dry season from November to March, with midday temperatures that rise above 38° Celsius (100° Fahrenheit) but relatively cool nights, dropping as low as 12° Celsius (54° Fahrenheit).
The site added that the average rainfall along the coast varies from about 180 cm (70 in) in the west to about 430 cm (170 inches) in certain parts of the east. Inland, it decreases to around 130 cm (50 inches) over most of central Nigeria and only 50 cm (20 inches) in the extreme north. A breakdown of the site’s document shows that Nigeria has three seasons wet, dry, and harmattan seasons.
During the season, studies have shown that humidity drops to as low as 15%, which can result in spontaneous nosebleeds for some people. Other health effects on humans may include conditions of the skin (dryness of the skin), dried or chapped lips, eyes, and respiratory system, including aggravation of asthma.
Also, asthmatic patients, in particular, are prone to suffer during harmattan. Meteorologists are already predicting more intense harmattan haze, which includes conditions like dryness of the skin, dried or chapped lips, and eyes, and respiratory problems. This season is also adverse for people suffering from asthma because it can cause aggravation of asthma
Speaking with Blueprint Weekend, an Abuja-based business woman, Mrs. Faith Mama, said what she dreads about the season is cold, adding that with a cardigan, she would cope.
“My fear about the harmattan season is the cold. During the harmattan season, especially towards the end of November and December is usually very cold and you cannot stay at home because of the harmattan. So you can prevent this by putting on a cardigan and wearing socks. Most people do have cracked legs during harmattan that is why a lot of people wear socks to prevent it,” she said.
Also speaking, another resident, Mr. Ugochukwu Kenneth, said a lot of diseases are associated with the season and called on the government to help the masses with jackets that would save them from the cold.
He said: “Harmattan season carries a lot of problems, for example airborne disease. One can get the airborne disease during harmattan, cracked legs, and lips. All these things are not good for the body, at times, your body will shrink. We have to bear all these because it’s nature.
“Government can help the masses, like abroad the government will give the masses a jacket and provide them something that keeps you indoors but in this part of the world there’s nothing of such.”
On her part, Mrs. Yusuf said: “During harmattan season, you can have cracked lips and you have to use oil for the body to avoid having white or wrinkled skin. Harmattan is dangerous to the body because the cracks in the leg can be very painful; you need to take care of it.
“However, we can prevent this by getting socks and cardigans and also shear butter to rub on the skin and also on the cracked legs when you finish bathing or when going to bed.
Mrs. Rabiyat Ahmed, on her part, told this reporter, “Her major fear about the harmattan is that it sets in the dust and it causes cough and catarrh which are very communicable. The reason for much dust during harmattan is that there are no good roads and some people do not do interlocks in their compounds, waste disposal is also another problem. If all these things are being taken care of, we will have a better environment and it will reduce the outbreak of catarrh and cough, especially among the children.”
Speaking from another angle, a civil servant, Alaisi John, described the harmattan season as the best, saying that he enjoys himself better during the season because it allows him to sleep well at night.
“The harmattan season is the best for me and I always look forward to having it every year. It is the only season that I normally enjoy my sleep at night because everywhere will be so cold. Also, the sun during the season is mixed with the coolness of the weather,” he said.
A teacher, Kazeem Atanda, told this medium that the only good thing about the season is that it reminds him of the end of the year, claiming that aside from that, it is not too friendly, saying that it is synonymous with disasters like bush burning and accidents.
“nytime harmattan starts, it reminds one that the year is gradually coming to an end. This makes me happy. But on the other hand, the season is not friendly to me, and some people. It is synonymous with disaster and accidents. Like we have had in the past, a lot of burning activities during the season had resulted in a wanton loss of property, and lives in most cases. Also, accidents occur during the period because of the cloudy early morning weather,” he said.
According to reports, the season is also reputed for fire disasters occasioned by bush burning, which has wreaked havoc in some parts of the country.