Climate-induced flooding crisis, disaster forecasts, and the risks to supply chain: The Nigerian case study

Africa remains confronted by natural disasters such as the drought in the Horn of Africa. At least, an estimated 1.81 billion people, representing 23 percent of the world’s population face significant risks of flooding.

Of these, at least 89 percent are said to live in low-and-middle income countries with 780 million flood-exposed people living on less than $5.50 a day. Natural disasters including climate-induced floodings are not new to Nigeria. Similarly, low-income countries remain mostly vulnerable to the long-term impacts of flooding when compared to developed countries.

The dangers posed by flooding are numerous and while the threats they pose to human lives remain substantive they could also adversely affect the supply chain thereby reversing progress made in the areas of poverty alleviation and development, particularly in developing countries. For instance, 170 million extremely poor people, that is people living on less than $1.90 a day, are faced with risks associated with flooding. This essentially means that 4 in every 10 people living in poverty across the globe are exposed to flood risk.

In the case of Nigeria, the country has been plagued over the years with instances of seasonal flooding which has had its adverse effects on local populations. However, the recent case of flooding, in the country which has claimed the lives of no fewer than 600 people, while leading to the forceful displacement of several others, thereby making it the worst floods the country has experienced in a decade.

Heavy rains as well as poor urban planning have largely made the parts of Nigeria increasingly vulnerable to flooding. The recent floods in Nigeria were 80 times more likely due to climate change. It is also pertinent to note that other countries which have been affected by the flooding which occurred between June and November within the Lake Chad Basin region include Niger and Chad. This has also drawn attention to the need to find a lasting solution towards addressing this recurrent issue.

With about a million people now displaced in Nigeria alone, because of the floodings apart from the devastation of hundreds and thousands of houses. So far, more than 200,00 homes have been destroyed by the flooding. Other aspects of human lives have also been significantly affected including the all-important supply chain. For instance, the surging waters have had an adverse effect on farmlands as well.

Read also: Group launches eco-friendly city to fight climate change

The loss of crops as a result of the heavy rainfall would disrupt the supply chain thereby resulting in an increase in food prices. At least an estimated 500,000 hectares of farmland across the affected countries were damaged because of the flooding, with at least 1.5 million people forcefully displaced.

The result of the flooding has also left at least 20 million Nigerians at risk of food insecurity. So far, 600 people have also been reported to have died because of the flooding. 27 out of Nigeria’s 36 states have been severely affected by the recent flooding crisis.

Addressing these interconnect issues in places such as Nigeria, Africa and elsewhere requires the use of innovative solutions. One of which is ensuring that adequate measures are taken to strengthen forecasting and response mechanisms…

The prospects of a recovery are not guaranteed anytime soon. For instance, Nigeria’s meteorological agency notes that the flooding could persist until the end of November in certain states such as Anambra, Delta, Rivers, Cross River and Bayelsa.

This poses a serious concern, especially given the government’s lacklustre response to the crisis which have come a little too late. As part of efforts to build community resilience and reduce the effects of climate-induced disasters, with humanitarian consequences.

Some of which include potential outbreaks of malaria, cholera, diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases. This is despite the existence of a Disaster Risk Management Policy which was developed in 2019 by the federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The recent flooding crisis in Nigeria is a stark reminder of the fact that despite Africa remaining the least contributor to issues such as greenhouse gas emission that continue to exacerbate climate change events, it continues to be significantly affected by it in many ways. It is pertinent to note that of the 10 most vulnerable countries globally to climate change, seven are in Africa.

Addressing these interconnect issues in places such as Nigeria, Africa and elsewhere requires the use of innovative solutions. One of which is ensuring that adequate measures are taken to strengthen forecasting and response mechanisms to climate-induced disasters given the damage they could potentially cause to human lives and the attendant risks to the supply chain.

A potential challenge would be funding these interventions, which is why it is important to for these countries to consider utilising risk financing and other anticipatory insurance instruments. It is therefore pertinent to prioritise these alongside with systemic risk mitigation measures towards preventing the loss of lives as well as livelihoods. The time to act is now.