• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Explainer: A tale of two dams and ignored warnings

Explainer: A tale of two dams and ignored warnings

Adamawa, a northeastern state hit by recent floods, has within it a dam that has been in construction for 40 years. A dam is a barrier constructed to hold back water and raise its level, forming a reservoir used to generate electricity or as a water supply.

Some years ago, Cameroon and Nigeria touched on the chances of possible flooding as a result of water overflow from the Cameroonian dam (Lagdo Dam). To cushion the effect of possible flooding, the Nigerian government agreed to build its own dam (the Dasin Hausa Dam) in Adamawa to contain excess water from Cameroon, thereby preventing flooding.

Hence, the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, which often contributes to flooding in Nigeria, was supposed to be contained by the Dasin Hausa Dam in Adamawa.

Aside from that, it was supposed to be two and a half the size of the Lagdo dam; the dam project sited at the Dasin Village of Fufore Local Government Area of Adamawa State was supposed to generate 300 megawatts of electricity and irrigate about 150,000 hectares of land in Adamawa, Taraba, and Benue states. It was supposed to be a shock absorber to prevent shocks like the one experienced in 2012, and the one being experienced in 2022.

At the time, the Cameroonian government built its Lagdo Dam in five years (between 1977 and 1982). It has been 40 years since 1982, and the Dasin Hausa Dam is yet to be finished.

“I consider it irresponsible that a government is okay with another government informing them to prepare for the consequences of activities in their own country, instead of building and completing a dam that they started since 1981,” said Evaristus Nicolas, an environmentalist in Egbema, Imo State.

On September 13, 2022, Eneo Cameroon (the Cameroonian electricity company) released a statement to inform residents of Garoua (a port city and the capital of the North Region of Cameroon, lying on the Benue River) and its environs that the dam will release between September and October 2022, urging them to steer clear of hazardous and flood-prone zones within the period. Had the government of Nigeria done likewise, the flood impacts could have been buffered.

Rather than own up to maybe a failure from the government’s own end, Suleiman Adamu, Nigeria’s minister of water resources, in a bid to defend his ministry’s 2023 budget before the Senate committee on water resources in Abuja, has said that rainfall is responsible for the flooding ravaging various communities across 30 states in Nigeria, not excess water from Cameroon.

The Nigerian 2022 flood experience, currently the worst on record, according to news reports, directly competes with that of 2012, one that took a deadly toll.

In 2012, for instance, the nation recorded its scariest flood experience where 2 million Nigerians were displaced, and 363 individuals died. The event cost the country an estimated $16.9 billion in total losses.

Both floods have been somehow attributed to the release of excess water from the Lagdo dam in Northern Cameroon as released water from it cascades down into Nigeria through River Benue and its tributaries, overwhelming communities that are already vulnerable due to heavy rainfall.

“Completing the Dasin Hausa Dam in the 80s would have prevented floods, increased power generation capacity, and aided irrigation. But the characteristic corruption-fuelled negligence wouldn’t allow it,” Oluseun Ade, a researcher, said.

Read also: Floods: Okowa urges FG to be proactive, build new dams

Igazeuma Okoroba, a pan-African sustainability strategy leader, said: “Where are the farms, jobs created, infrastructure, and investments from which to eradicate poverty? They are submerged in floods.

“N1 billion ($2.3 million) has been pledged by a state governor for flood relief. I wonder if this will recover school days lost, remove the trauma and risk of cholera, restore businesses and other impacts the floods have dealt on families in the IDP camps. I wonder also if this will be a lesson for preparedness ahead of the next one”.

Over-flooding has, over the years, negatively impacted Nigeria’s development efforts. And it seems easier to remedy than forestall.

Analysts are of the opinion that the government should develop the political will to invest appropriately in areas that help prevent and control over-flooding in the country.

Climate change also takes its toll on Nigeria’s vulnerable geography, experts say, as consequent anthropogenic influences due to global warming have led to massive melting of ice glaciers, hurricane experiences and coastal storms, overfilling of major rivers, as well as massive flooding worldwide.

Much of the country’s flooding occurs along the River Niger and Benue lines as their banks overflow during the rainy seasons. In 2012, for instance, hundreds of thousands of acres of land were flooded when rivers Benue and Niger split. In that period, the Niger River reached a record high level of 12.84 metres (or 42 feet).

In 2015, over 100,000 individuals were displaced, and 53 persons died due to over-flooding. In the following year, 2016, 92,000 Nigerians lost their homes and businesses, and 38 deaths were recorded from over-flooding. Environmental damages due to over-flooding affected over 250,000 people in the eastern-central region in 2017.

Also, about 200 individuals were killed in 2018 due to massive flooding in Niger, Kogi, Anambra and Delta states, respectively. The President declared a state of emergency in the affected states, and an $8.2 million relief pledge was made by the presidency.