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Taming persistent flood through NIHSA’s highlighted strategies

By Idowu Isamotu

Tranversing length and breadth of the largest country in the West Africa, Nigeria – starting from the Southern part to Northern region, has shown that the country is blessed to have been witnessing downpour in the last five months across the six geopolitical zones, considering its importance on human life.

This singular natural blessing, has, in the recent time created both sonorous mood and otherwise for farmers and other categories of living beings.

The downpour, when outweighs its fortunate and unfortunate posture to the existence of Nigerians recently, it may be accurate to say it takes 40% and 60% respectively.

The rainstorm, which wrecked havocs in virtually all 36 States in the federation between June and August 2019 did not spare the seat of power, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Similarly, few weeks ago, flood took over the residential quarters, major roads and other strategic locations in Maiduguri following heavy rainfall.

The rainstorm, attributed to the blockage of waterways due to indiscriminate dumping of waste into drainage, prevented people of the metropolis for good two days.

Some of the affected areas include: Polo, Gomari major roads and Bakassi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp.

Before these two unfortunate incidents in both North Central and North East respectively, Lagos residents in Southern region of the country have not really been finding it easy.

Experts have alluded this frequent occurrence to a wide range of factors; such as the location of the State along the coast, overcrowding – being the business hub of the country, among other factors.

In June 2019, a 28-year-old Adebola Oni was standing in front of a kiosk overlooking a marshland on Tony Enyinna Street, Gbagada. It had just rained that Sunday afternoon and the sun was forcing its way out of the sky’s grey shrouds.

At about 4:00p.m., Mr Oni had spent the most part of the day gathering gravel and sand to fill up leaking crucibles in his balcony from where water had leaked into his sitting room. After several rounds of pacing up and down the compound, he took a break outside alone, contemplating the tragedy of his plight.

“The rains are here again; living here is like sharing a room with the devil,” he retorted while standing over the mass of water spilling out of his apartment.

This same unfortunate experience brought up by the natural resource also had its way to the oil-rich region (South South) of the country. In fact, it was gathered that such incident is even worse in that region than Northern part because of the movement of erosion towards the area.

Director-General of National Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Engr Clement Nze

For instance, in August 12 this year, this same flood ravaged Bayelsa State and paralysed banking activities in some commercial banks in Yenagoa, the state capital, as their premises were overrun by water. The worst hit was the Swali branch of the United Bank of Africa (UBA), where flood overran the entrance and poured into the banking hall.

However, these ugly trends that resulted from this natural ‘favour’ would have been averted if all concerned stakeholders had joined hands together with a diligent Director-General of National Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Engr Clement Nze, who had been thoroughly carrying out his assigned responsibility and the statutory mandate of the agency effectively.

The ever-ready NIHSA boss and his team, had earlier in April alerted Nigerians about occurrence which many stakeholders had taken with levity hands.

Nze had, while presenting a comprehensive 2019 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) reeled out measures that should be taken before heavy downpour began to wreck havocs on lives and properties as we are currently witnessing in some parts of the country.

Before unveiling 2019 AFO, the NIHSA team involved themselves in tedious engagements, that if complemented by other stakeholders particularly the public, by refraining from indiscriminate dumping of refuse on the drainage, no single life would have been lost.

SAHEL STANDARD’s findings disclose that NIHSA team led by Engr Nze applied two reliable models before arriving at accurate 2019 AFO. They include: Geospatial Stream Flow Model (GEOSFM) and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT).

These models, according to the team, utilize hydrological and hydrogeological data, disaggregated Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP), satellite rainfall data, Digital Elevation Model (DEM), topographical and soil/water index balance data among others.

One of the main strategies as spelt out by NIHSA is that, 36 States and the FCT authority should create retention basins for harvesting flood waters downstream of major rivers where there is scarcity of groundwater thereby using this flood waters for possible groundwater recharge and other uses. By so doing, the fresh flood water will not be lost to the sea to become saline water.

Notably, the month of September NIHSA predicted that Nigeria is going to witness more flooding is here and reacting non-challantly again by the general public could result to other unwanted ugly experience.

Though, the agency had accused state governments of failing to heed its previous warnings in the AFO released earlier this year on how floods may erase joy from various homes if not tamed quickly.

It is, however, urging the state governments to pull down structures built on flood plains and expand the drainages for easy flow of water as one of the strategies mapped out.

In the same vein, the synergy between Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, stakeholders and other collaborative agencies should be encouraged. The effective management of flood risk should be a collective responsibility of all stakeholders from individual, Local, State and Federal levels.

Furthermore, there should be in place, programmes to: enhance resilience (insurance compensation, economic empowerment, education and awareness) flood forecasting and warning and catchment management plans, innovative building and construction schemes, enactment and enforcement of planning laws.

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