We need to take flooding more seriously

The issue of flooding has assumed frightening proportions going by what is presently being experienced in Lagos State and other parts of Nigeria. Flooding has become part of life in Nigeria because of its unique geographical features. This is not to say that the problem is peculiar to the nation. No. Its a global challenge, but why it has become source of worry is that floods have continued been wreaking havoc around the globe. The timely warning by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency of the looming flooding in some states around the country, is instructive and should be not be taken lightly. According to a report by the body, at least, 15 states could be submerged by water as the skies get set to open up, a development that has triggering off coastal and river flooding.

NIHSA’s Annual Flood Outlook can be described as a warning to farmers that should be properly guided on the right time to start their planting season rather than hurriedly embarking on planting only for water to sweep away farmlands. In other countries like the United States of America, floods have emerged as a major natural disaster as hundreds in a manifestation of the palpable warning for urgent action to protect the planet against severe heat dome and atmospheric pressure while flood frequency in many African countries has increased in the last few years. In past experiences in Nigeria, a major factor promoting flooding is the release of water in some dams despite the side effects of such actions leading to the breaking of their banks and causing more harm, especially when the release is not timely done.

The resultant effect of this is the loss of lives and property, destruction of farmlands, and a disruption in the ecosystem by causing environmental hazards and food insecurity. There a number of factors that should be looked into improve on its warning system that alerts early enough whenever flooding is happens. They include promoting flood resilient buildings that reduces the impact of the flooding, constructing buildings above flood levels, planting of trees strategically, restoring rivers to their natural courses and introducing water storage areas to take care of excesses. Another important consideration is giving constant public enlightenment to the people about their responsibilities as good and responsible citizens for them to desist from dumping of refuse in canals.

This indiscriminate dumping of refuse is a common feature during the rainy season where people gather their waste materials and throw them away mostly at night into flowing flood waters. Apart from the nuisance that such habits can cause, it could serve as a potent avenue to transmit diseases that are associated with improper refuse disposal. By using modern flood control techniques, the nation would be able to reduce the impact of flooding by concentrating more on coastal and inland areas. The present system encourages illegal dumping of waste because offenders are rarely apprehended. This is because with a central waste collection system that is absent in many communities makes people often resort to self-help by patronising cart pushers to dispose of their refuse, if they are unable to throw them away into the gutters, drainage and the dry roads. Regulatory agencies in charge of town planning and municipals should not allow houses and shanties on water drains to be the cause of floods in coastal belt regions and along River Niger and River Benue channels. As earlier mentioned, flooding that caused severe losses and deaths in Lagos week ago back offers another opportunity for the Lagos State government to reflect and accord more attention to coastal flooding by exploring flood risk management strategies to fight subsequent flood threats.

The government should not waste precious time before reading the Riot Act to residents against engaging in blocking of gutters and drains with solid waste. Citizens should depart from this habit and stop throwing waste into drainage during rainfall. Those who built houses on water channels should be forced to relocate and such houses demolished so that water can have its course and flow unhindered. The government should not hesitate to deal ruthlessly with violators of town planning laws. Fighting indiscriminate waste disposal requires collaborative effort. That is why it is imperative to partner advocacy groups, health bodies, media, farmers cooperatives and neighbourhood associations to mitigate environmental challenges to reduce to the barest minimum, the negative impact caused by incessant flooding, displacement of persons, destruction of farmlands and agricultural produce.

It is equally important to stress that necessary contingency plans should be introduced to evacuate people to higher level away from flood disasters and to equally provide fresh drinking water to avert outbreak of diseases that flooding could bring along. Again, the release of water from the dams can be done reasonably and in such a manner that tragic incidents are minimised or prevented. It should be stressed that addressing global warming challenges is both at the individual and corporate levels. Hence, every adult should do the right thing and owes the nation that obligation to help preserve our ecosystem.