On NIHSA’s 2018 Flood Alert


The rains are here again, and expectedly, relevant agencies and stakeholders have been issuing flood alerts and warnings of imminent danger, if precautionary measures are not put in place to avert flood disasters.
Only recently, the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) announced that 380 local government areas in 35 states of the country will experience flooding, this year.
According to NIHSA, 78 out of the 380 councils will witness high flooding, though may not be as devastating as that of 2012 which rendered thousands of citizens homeless with properties valued at several millions of naira destroyed.
While presenting its 2018 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) which was unveiled by the Water Resources Minister, Suleiman Adamu, the agency explained that the essence of the alert was to notify residents in flood prone areas to relocate to higher and safer grounds before the full blast of the rainy season.
NIHSA’s report which mentioned states that cut across virtually all the geo-political zones however, specifically named Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Cross River, Ondo and Lagos as coastal states that will experience coastal flooding due to the rise in sea level and tidal surge which usually impact on fishing and coastal transportation.
Similarly, NIHSA revealed that states in the South East and Northern part of Nigeria will experience flash and urban flood due to poor drainage system and other human induced challenges, noting that water levels in Rivers Niger and Benue, as well as other major rivers, will rise and remain high during the rainy season.
While The Tide appreciates NIHSA’s flood alert and, indeed, those of other relevant agencies such as Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), we, however, regret that these warnings are usually not taken seriously as the same level of devastation and disasters are recorded virtually every year, leaving residents helpless and at the mercy of nature.
We, therefore, urge Nigerians and governments at all levels to immediately take proactive measures to forestall the impending disasters.
NIHSA’s warning could not have come at a better time than now. From all indications, it is a clear danger signal which requires immediate preventive measures to avert a repeat of past tragedies.
More importantly, we call on all relevant government agencies and stakeholders to find lasting solutions to this perennial flooding that has become an annual endemic occurence, mostly to the wetlands.
In the light of the risks associated with excessive flooding, especially water-borne diseases, we call for immediate desilting of the drainages, canals and waterways, especially in the major cities and their environs.
We implore indigenes to clean up their environment, stop indiscriminate disposal of wastes into the drains and stop erecting structures on waterways or drainages. Meanwhile, government officials must enforce good sanitary habits on the citizenry by ensuring that culprits are sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others.
Ending flooding may not be an easy feat to achieve, but a good synergy and interface between communities and environmental experts in this direction is recommended as a way forward. The South African case is a classic example, where a database is provided to predict accurately flood level at a given period. The federal and state authorities should borrow a leaf from this.
It will not also be out of place if all state governments float state emergency management agencies which would always liaise with NEMA and other relevant agencies to handle flood-related and other environmental challenges in their respective states.