By Prince Kurupati
Every year, the May to September tropical rainfall leads to inevitable flooding in the country. However, this year’s flooding is the worst since 2012, the year which saw hundreds of people lose their lives.
The heavy rains which were received in the country in the past couple of weeks led the Benue and Niger Rivers to burst their banks in the process inundating homes and farms. Also, the rains trapped thousands of people in their homes.
The torrential rains which have already caused massive suffering among the Nigerian people led NEMA to declare a national disaster in four states namely Niger, Anambra, Delta and Kogi. Sani Datti, the spokesman from NEMA said that they have placed eight other states on a watch list as more rainfall is expected in the coming days.
According to the statistics collected by NEMA thus far, Sani Datti said that 100 people have lost their lives in the 10 affected states. Though NEMA does not have a definite figure, Datti said that over a thousand people have been rendered homeless by the flooding in the 10 affected states.
Among the 10 affected states, Kogi State is the worst affected as its capital, Lokoja which lies at the confluence of the Benue and Niger Rivers has been virtually submerged by the rising waters. At the present moment, NEMA said that the water levels have risen to 11.06 metres in Lokoja. However, the water levels can easily rise considering that the Nigeria Meteorological Agency is forecasting more rains in the coming week.
Delta and Anambra State in the south have also been hit hard with most streets turned into small streams.
NEMA puts the ranks the current floods as the worst since 2012. The flooding in 2012 was regarded as the worst flooding in the country in five decades. Over 350 people lost their lives while over two million others were rendered homeless in the floods which affected 30 out of the 36 states in Nigeria.
In response to the devastating floods, President Muhammad Buhari approved the release of three billion naira (the equivalent of $8.2 million) to buy relief and medical supplies. He also stated that military personnel and equipment had been seconded to help the relief effort, as well as the evacuation of trapped residents from their homes.
While flooding is an annual problem for Nigeria, very few efforts have been taken by the government to address the situation. Lax control of new infrastructure is still the norm while local governments have not taken any significant steps to construct good drainage infrastructure.
While the loss of lives is the biggest worry of the government in the wake of the floods, the country also loses a lot of money as a result of the floods as business comes to a standstill. For hours, days and sometimes even weeks, businesses wait for the streets to drain before carrying on with their day to day business.
NEMA has created five emergency operation centres to coordinate search and rescue operations from. The centres are also used for providing humanitarian support for those who have been displaced by the floods.
NEMA advises all residents in flood-prone areas to evacuate their homes at the earliest.