Heavy torrential rains in Nigeria since the beginning of their rainy season have claimed dozens of lives. Incidents such as the boat accidents in Ikorodu and Mile Two, Lagos state made headlines when these boats capsized, killing a combined total of 50 passengers in July due to floods. After an exceptional downpour befell Jigawa state, about two hours away from Lagos, a further fifty casualties were reported.
Sani Yusuf, executive secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) for Jigawa State, reported on Monday, 15 August, that the recent floods killed fifty people and displaced an undisclosed number estimated at around ‘thousands.’ “Cumulatively, we have recorded 50 deaths from flooding across the 27 local governments in the state,” he said. He further reported that 237 homes were destroyed in the Balangu area. “The last few days have been quite challenging as rain fell for three days non-stop,” Sani added.
Those affected by the flood have been placed in temporary shelters like classrooms. The dire situation, though, is far from over as experts expect even more rain in the coming days. To prevent river banks from bursting, authorities will release water from the Komadugu River. Residents of the area are encouraged to evacuate their homes as soon as possible in anticipation of it.
Sani attributes the hefty rains to climate change. There have been warnings that Lagos could be unlivable towards the end of the century because of rising sea levels. According to a study by the Institute of Development Studies, by 2100, sea levels could potentially be 59cm. The study states that the fatal floods are “inadequate and poorly maintained drainage systems and uncontrolled urban growth.” Despite being warned against it, structures are still erected on drainage paths, floodplains, and close to the coast. “The high cost of land and housing lead people to settle in informal settlements and in undesirable, swampy, and low-lying areas,” the study adds.
While climate change plays a role in Nigeria’s current problem, the poorly managed drainage systems are another factor. Institutional interventions are low. Therefore the situation is exacerbated. According to the study, the government ignores adopting ecosystem-based solutions such as vegetated banks capable of absorbing floodwater. In addition, governmental departments responsible for such risk management are weakly coordinated and need to strengthen the capacity at which existing laws and policies are enforced.
Jagawa-native water resources minister Suleiman Adamu warned the media of the looming floods two years ago. However, authorities did not take heed. Nigeria faces extreme poverty, corruption, and a state that refuses to put its people’s best interests first. The end of the century could spell deep trouble should no preventative measures be taken now, or is it too late?