ENVIRONMENT Proper drainages, channelisation can harness flood
Flood is a phenomenon that affects humanity and its environment, but in spite of the havoc it can wreak, flood can be a blessing if properly harnessed and managed, experts said.
The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) in its 2017 flood outlook, predicted that about 26 states across the federation and 96 local government areas are expected to experience high flood in the next few months.
The Director General of NIHSA, Dr Moses Beckley, said an additional 231 local government areas from other states fall under the moderate flood risk areas.
However, most parts of the country have experienced and are still experiencing flood, which has wreaked a lot of havoc through loss of lives and properties.
The high impact of flood witnessed across the country is attributed, by some stakeholders, to the devastating effects of climate change, and exacerbated by the actions of man that cause desertification, carbon emissions and distortion of the ecological system among others.
In spite of the heavy damages done by flood incidents nationwide, however, not much has been done by the authorities to harness the phenomenon.
Some experts spoke to Daily Trust on how to harness and manage the incidence of flood that is ravaging the country.
A professor of Science and Environmental Education, University of Abuja, Prof Bassey Ubom, said, “There is no way we can harness or manage flood because man has been wicked to the environment; man has deliberately injured the environment and the environment will reply.”
He said it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that in the next 10 to 15 years all seashores, in Lagos, Calabar and Port Harcourt would be flooded.
Prof Ubom explained that the most industrialised nations are the cause of the chlorofluorocarbon which depletes the ozone layer.
He said if they deplete the Antarctica, where virtually everywhere is frozen, the ice would melt because of ultraviolet rays coming directly into the atmosphere and the water there would flow into the oceans and tributaries resulting into flood.
He flayed the attitude of people in the disposal of refuse saying, “There is a marathonic refuse disposal and everybody is involved including the elite; people drop their refuse into the gutters and if you block the areas that water is supposed to pass, flood occurs.”
According to him, environmentalism has made the world to be a global village.
“If you pour refuse into a gutter in Sokoto, it can go to Akwa Ibom or Cross River State and block another gutter and flood will occur and houses will collapse,” he said.
The don, berated government for not taking the necessary actions, saying, “The flood that occurred in Kogi a long time ago, government has done nothing about it; nobody cares about anything; we are not proactive.”
He therefore restated the need to introduce environmental education in all levels of education - from nursery to tertiary - so that people would appreciate the environment.
He noted that if the government was proactive, it could start now to revamp all the channels that water was supposed to pass through and open all the waterways as that would help address the flood menace.
The National President of Environmental Management Association of Nigeria (EMAN), Emmanuel Ating, an architect, who said people misrepresented the cause of flood.
He said, “Flooding has to do with weather condition; when rain falls the areas are flooded because of lack of planning and poor activities in developmental control and people building on drainages, and without open spaces.”
He recalled the recent flood in Lagos, saying, “They went and reclaimed the beach and erected very tall buildings, which in turn is adding very big pressure to the soil. And the settlement is without proper drainage design for the water to empty into the river as is done in developed countries.”
Ating explained that the melting of the ice at the poles was contributing to the rise in sea level, though it was not so significant as to cause flood.
“Naturally when it rains, with the melting of the ice, the volume of the water will increase and it will contribute to coastal erosion, and when there is constant flow because of the low nature of the sea level it is only natural that there will be flood turbulence,” he added.
With this knowledge, it therefore meant that when any project that could be affected was planned it was supposed to make provision for proper drainage and channelisation system. This is because the authorities already know that something like that would happen, he maintained.
“Flooding is a known thing so let them plan cities following proper development control and do proper drainages and use proper channelisation process,” he stressed.
He said the Federal Government was aware that there would be flooding because it had been forecast. Therefore it was not an emergency, but the government did nothing in terms of clearing the drainages, building new ones and doing proper channelisation.
Ating advised government to remove buildings on drainages and waterways by being firm, without compromise, adding that “It is a known problem and not one over which Nigeria should be thinking ‘what should be done now’.”
While noting that waste management was equally critical in addressing the issue of flood, he said government should strengthen the town planners to do their work, with every state developing its town planning laws and implementing them effectively with every programme being guided by Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan.
The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, , during the 2017 annual flood outlook by NIHSA in Abuja, had said they might not be in a position to suddenly arrest the consequences but that it was for them to manage the extreme events in such a manner that their deleterious effects were mitigated and became less devastating.
He said, “It is the primary focus of my ministry to be pivotal in the improvement of the lives of Nigerians, through the availability of water that is wholesome, adequate and timely through the management of the country’s water resources in a sustainable manner as well as ensuring a healthy ecosystem.”
He added that the flow of water must be controlled to make it less destructive, adding that the Federal Government had over the years taken steps to control river flows within the country through construction of dams, reservoirs, artificial lakes amongst others but that more needed to be done.
Flood consumed vehicles at Sango Ota along the Abeokuta/Lagos road after the heavy downpour recently.