• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

Flooding: Woes and worries as nature’s fury spreads

Flood sacks residents in Akwa Ibom

Since the days of Noah, humanity has not experienced the magnitude of flooding currently sweeping across nations of the world in the last few months, with woes and worries rising in families, communities, cities and farmlands.

Some say it is a product of change in climatic conditions, popularly called climate change; others say it is the season expressing itself violently and uncontrollably. For us, it is a combination of the two and more.

Nature, apparently, is angry and this anger, in some societies including Nigeria, has been aggravated by the lack of seriousness and commitment that defines government’s attitude to public interests, giving rise to what we see everyday and everywhere—destruction, frustration and death.

Yes, it has been quite pervasive and devastating, but we believe it could have been less if not for that which makes Nigeria a giant on clay legs

Across the world, homes, communities and cities have been submerged, rendering many homeless. Similarly, farmlands have been destroyed, thereby deepening fears and danger of food insecurity.

In Africa, over 20 countries, including Nigeria and South Africa – the two economic powers in the continent, have been badly flooded with far-reaching consequences. About 125,000 people have been reported dead as of September 2022.

For Nigeria, the giant of Africa, it has been a sobering moment since July, when the rainy season reached its peak with daily downpour. From that time till date, there has been pain and losses everywhere. So far, most of the states have been affected with varying degrees of impact.

It was, indeed, a scary report that was released on Tuesday by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and Social Development. According to Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, the permanent secretary in the ministry, over 500 people have died.

About 1,411,051 persons have been affected. The displaced persons that have moved out of their locations are up to 790,254 while about 1,546 persons that were displaced are injured. While 44,099 houses are partially damaged, 45,249 are totally damaged. In the same vein, 76,168 hectares of farmland are partially damaged while 70,566 hectares have been completely destroyed.

We are worried by these figures, especially the number of people that have died. Increasingly, the value of human life is reducing to zero. In Nigeria, people die more by violent and avoidable means than natural causes, which is quite regrettable.

Arguably, Nigeria has the highest housing deficit at 20 million units and lowest home-ownership level at 25 percent of its 200 million population in Africa. In our view, the country can ill-afford destruction of over 100,000 housing units in a matter of months.

More worrisome to us is the high number of people who have been dislocated from homes submerged by flooding. This is because they have added to the large number of those at internally displaced persons (IDP) camps as victims of insurgency and banditry.

With galloping inflation that has pushed up food prices and energy cost to abnormal levels, the destruction of farmlands partially and completely up to 76,168 hectares 70,566 hectares, respectively, is not only mind-boggling, but also a major source of worry about an uncertain tomorrow.

Flooding is a global and natural phenomenon. We agree. It happens everywhere and this year’s occurrence has been quite spectacular and intriguing. It has proved to be no respecter of location.

Yes, it has been quite pervasive and devastating, but we believe it could have been less if not for that which makes Nigeria a giant on clay legs. And this is at the core of our worry and frustration with what we have seen and heard so far.

We feel uncomfortable living in a country where the government would rather spend money on relief materials than invest the same in preventive measures or fighting the causes of what makes relief materials necessary.

Today, a report has it that 31 states plus the federal capital Abuja have been affected. The incident in some of these states could have been avoided if only there was a government in the country that cared about disaster prevention and management.

A major cause of the flooding in states like Kogi, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, and Nasarawa and a few other states in the northern part of Nigeria is the Lagdo Dam located in Northern Cameroon from where excess water is released and it finds its way to Nigeria, causing uncontrollable flooding.

Read also: Explainer: How Nigeria can better manage flooding

It is painful to note that it is the Nigerian government’s failure to keep to the agreement with Cameroon on building the dam that is causing this yearly havoc called flooding.

Nigeria and Cameroon had agreed to build two dams such that when water is released from the Cameroonian dam, the Nigerian dam would contain it and prevent it from causing floods.

While Cameroon started constructing its dam in 1977 and completed it in 1982, Nigeria decided to build the Dasin Hausa dam that was supposed to be two and a half the size of the Lagdo dam.

Besides serving as shock-absorber for the Lagdo dam, the Dasin Hausa dam project sited in Adamawa State was supposed to generate 300 megawatts of electricity and irrigate about 150,000 hectares of land in Adamawa, Taraba, and Benue states.

But sadly, since 1982, the Nigerian government is yet to complete the building of the Dasin Hausa dam, hence the tale of woes by people in that axis whenever water is released from the Cameroon dam.

More than any other cause of the devastating flooding in the country today, we are highly disturbed by this failure on the part of the government to make this preventive measure possible. For us, it is not enough for the government to warn citizens of an impending disaster and go to sleep.

We condemn, in its entirety, the government’s penchant for spending money to buy relief materials for flood victims instead of using the same to fight the causes, especially those that are within human control. It is our firm belief that the time for the government to rise and act is Now.