Lagos flood: Curse of a ne­glected en­vi­ron­ment

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

In re­cent times, res­i­dents of Lagos State have wit­nessed tor­ren­tial rain­fall, which, in most parts, al­tered the way of life of the peo­ple largely due to heavy flood­ing, a re­cur­ring af­ter­math of such heavy down­pours.

Lagos, which is bor­dered by the At­lantic Ocean, has the indi­ca­tors for the amount of flood­ing and other en­vi­ron­men­tal harsh con­di­tions be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced. This mainly costal re­gion has one of the wor­ri­some im­pacts of cli­mate-change in­duced flood­ing in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and in­deed in the world.

For a rea­son­able num­ber of years, the Lagos State gov­ern­ment had in­vested in var­i­ous ef­forts to pre­serve the en­vi­ron­ment recorded in the ar­eas of ed­u­ca­tion and se­ries of ac­tions geared to­wards en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity aware­ness, in­clud­ing proper waste man­age­ment, a heav­ily-sus­tained tree plant­ing ex­er­cise and an an­nual en­vi­ron­men­tal con­fer­ence which pur­pose was to high­light is­sues, dis­cuss cur­rent re­searches and prof­fer so­lu­tions to burn­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems.

Th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties are no longer top pri­or­ity and clear rea­sons have not been ad­vanced as to why re­newed ef­forts have been halted. More so, the ef­forts to keep Lagos city clean, as was the case in pre­vi­ous years, seem to have been aban­doned.

To­day, most Lagos res­i­dents are con­cerned about the never-end­ing dump­ing of waste on ma­jor roads and around the in­ner cities, which in the event of the slight­est rain­fall, blocks the drainage sys­tems caus­ing se­ri­ous hard­ship for res­i­dents. The ser­vices of the waste dis­posal agency seem in­ac­ces­si­ble in most parts of the city and the po­ten­tial dan­ger of this de­vel­op­ment can only be left to the imag­i­na­tion.

To make mat­ters worse, fol­low­ing a re­cent court rul­ing, the monthly en­vi­ron­men­tal san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise was ter­mi­nated. The im­pact of this le­gal action on the en­vi­ron­ment is yet to be fully con­tex­tu­al­ized, but will cer­tainly lead to fur­ther degra­da­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment. Some had ar­gued that the monthly san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise was an un­nec­es­sary action by the state gov­ern­ment to re­strict move­ment. But, put side by side the ben­e­fits to the well­be­ing and health of the en­vi­ron­ment, this de­ci­sion needs to be re­vis­ited.

It should be em­pha­sized that to slow down the neg­a­tive im­pact of cli­mate change, the ef­fort to re­verse the burn­ing of fos­sil fuel and re­duce car­bon emis­sion must be sus­tained. All ef­forts, in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal ef­forts and lob­by­ing, must be fo­cused on build­ing al­ter­na­tive en­ergy mod­els, new and green pro­duc­tion pro­cesses and work­ing to­wards a cleaner planet through in­vest­ment in clean en­ergy and green pro­duc­tion tech­nolo­gies. In­dus­tri­al­iza­tion should no longer be car­bon based or car­bon driven.

There is an ur­gent need for the Lagos State gov­ern­ment to en­cour­age re­searchers, who are in­ter­ested, to in­ves­ti­gate and prof­fer so­lu­tions to wide rang­ing causes and con­se­quences, and to pro­vide clear cut mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies to deal with en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­as­ters as re­sult­ing from cli­mate change.

Teach­ing of en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity in mostly se­condary schools must be re­vis­ited as a way to gal­va­nize the young and fu­ture pol­icy mak­ers into the broad con­scious­ness of the need to pre­serve the en­vi­ron­ment. There used to be Cli­mate Clubs in schools. Th­ese ini­tia­tives should equally be sup­ported by cor­po­rate or­ga­ni­za­tions in an ef­fort to ful­fill cor­po­rate cit­i­zen­ship re­spon­si­bil­ity to Lagos State.

Cli­mate change is not just an en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lem. It is a de­vel­op­ment prob­lem that is di­rectly linked to and re­spon­si­ble for mul­ti­ple crises plagu­ing the world to­day. Vic­tor Ikem, Lagos.

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