The year 2022 witnessed flooding as never seen in recent years in different parts of the country. The damage caused was massive resulting in loss of lives, property and farmlands.
The incident also caught the attention of the international media with BBC reporting that “Nigeria is suffering its worst flooding in a decade, forcing 1.4 million people from their home’’.
“This year’s flooding has the highest death toll since the 2012 flooding”, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was quoted last year by the media as saying.
But the flood disaster did not come without a warning. On Sept. 7, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) had predicted an “abnormal” rainy season for 2022 only comparable to what was witnessed in 2012.
Between July and October 2012, flooding in Nigeria pushed rivers over their banks and submerged hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland.
According to NEMA, it forced 1.3 million people out of their homes and claimed 431 lives.
Both rivers Niger and Benue had burst their banks, engulfing the small lakes and ponds. South of Idah, the Niger River sparked into a sprawling temporary lake.
The United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks had reported that many farmers had lost everything they labored for.
Similarly, Nigerian Red Cross statistics showed that no fewer than 120,000 people were made homeless while thousands of displaced residents had to flee temporary shelters as the floods overwhelmed those camps.
Nigeria was not alone in coming with floods in 2012; floods had affected several other countries in west and central Africa by mid-September
Comparing 2012 flooding to that of 2022, NEMA Director-General, Ahmed Habib, told newsmen that this year flooding has the highest death toll since the 2012 flooding.
On its part, NIHSA explained that Kainji and Jebba dams had started spilling excess water from their dams, with Shiroro dam, expected to shed excess water by October.
“In 2012, there was flooding in Kogi and Benue states, due to two reasons, namely, heavy rainfalls and the release of excess water from Cameroon’s Lagdo dam. The floods killed over 430 people leaving 566, 466 people displaced.
NIHSA explained that Kainji and Jebba dams had started spilling excess water from their dams, with Shiroro dam, expected to shed excess water by October.
“In 2012, there was flooding in Kogi and Benue states, due to two reasons, heavy rainfalls; and the release of excess water from Cameroon’s Lagdo dam. The floods killed over 430 people leaving 566, 466 people displaced.
The agency’s Director-General, Clement Nze, had indicated that it was conscious of the impact of Lagdo dam in Cameroon on flooding in Nigeria if its reservoir level approaches 216m.
“The water from the dam will cascade into Nigeria through River Benue, affecting communities in Benue, Kogi, Nassarawa, Kebbi, Niger, Taraba, and Adamawa,”most of the catastrophes present would not be different from that of 2012.” he said.
According to the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Nigeria is among the eleven countries listed as flooding hotspots in 2022.
The Republic of Congo occupies the number one spot in West and Central African region.
The West and Central Africa region accounts for 265,400 internally displaced persons (IDP’s) due to disasters such as flood, storms and landslides.
The region accounts for approximately three per cent of total IDPs on the continent as of the end of 2021, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.
Millions of people are globally exposed to flooding every year, with no fewer than 800 million people living in flood-prone areas while 19 per cent of the world population, are directly exposed to substantial risks during 1-in-100 year flood events, according to environment experts.
Experts say that as the dry season continues, relevant agencies should collaborate to take necessary measures to ensure that 2023 rainy season does not bring the magnitude of disaster experienced in 2012 and 2022.
They advise that Nigeria and Cameroon governments should immediately take concrete steps to mitigate the impact of the Lagdo dam on Nigerian communities in the event of excess water storage.
It is important that enough public enlightenment campaign is carried out ahead of the rainy season to raise emergency preparedness among coastline communities.
Environmentalists also advise that among others, where necessary, dredging should be carried out to ensure that rivers can accommodate more rain water in the event of continuous heavy rainfall during the 2023 rainy season.
Patricia Amogu writes from News Agency of Nigeria