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Nigeria prepares for an impending water calamity at the Lagdom Dam

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The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of Nigeria issued a flood warning a few days ago for the area around the River Benue.

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An “opening of the flood gates at the Lagdo Dam on the Benue River” is imminent, as the Cameroonian government has allegedly announced.

Remember that in 2016 Nigeria and Cameroon signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) addressing the release of water from the dam, and that under the terms of the MoU, Cameroon must always give Nigeria advance notice before opening the dam’s gates.

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A letter from the Cameroonian government to Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the country’s determination to release water from the Lagdo dam and requested that the Nigerian government take preventative measures.

Further learned that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had also responded by serving a notice on NEMA in response to the alert.

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Massive flooding in numerous areas throughout the years was blamed on water being released from the Lagdo Dam.

The Republic of Cameroon dam on the River Benue has a history of flooding various Nigerian states along the river’s navigation channels, according to janescope. Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Enugu, Edo, Delta, Rivers, and Bayelsa are some of the states in this group.

Flooding occurred in the states of Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, and the Niger Delta in the months of October and November of 2019 after the dam was opened without warning. In 2022 there was also a devastating flood that cost lives and billions of naira in property.

NEMA has reported that 665 people lost their lives in the 2022 flood disaster, 2,437,411 were relocated, and 4,476,867 were affected.

Data collected so far on floods in 2023 shows that 10 states have been affected, with 33,983 people affected and 7,353 people relocated, the agency also said on August 9.

There were a total of 75 injuries and 5 fatalities reported, with 1,679 homes and 866 acres of agriculture destroyed.

In response, NEMA stated that the warning is not new, and that it has previously warned state governors of upcoming floods, including those caused by the Lagdo Dam.

The agency’s spokesman, Manzo Ezekiel, said the governors of the impacted states needed to act in conjunction with NEMA to protect citizens and property.

Ezekiel reassured Nigerians that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was coordinating with relevant parties — including the federal, state, and local governments — to mitigate any potential fallout from the Lagdo Dam’s opening.

In Makurdi, where the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) maintains a gauging station, the flow level of the River Benue was 8.97 meters on August 25, 2018, up from 8.80 meters on the same date in 2022.

The flow level of the River Niger system, in particular in Niamey, Niger Republic, has been provided by NIHSA to be at a normal level of 4.30 meters.

“Flow regimes were observed to be consistent at inland dams including Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro.

The waters at the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers in Lokoja, Kogi, he claimed, “are currently within normal limits” at the hydrological station located farther downstream.

The Lagos State disaster Management Authority (LASEMA), however, has reaffirmed the state government’s readiness to deal with any disaster resulting from the impending storm.

Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, LASEMA’s Permanent Secretary, said that in the case of an emergency, the state government has equipped LASEMA with 144 units of facilities that could house 5,000 IDPs.

He said that the city of Lagos was ready for any disaster since LASEMA had shifted its focus from administration to comprehensive emergency preparedness.

To identify those most at risk during crises, we have conducted risk assessments, mapped available resources, and made directories available in all local governments. He explained that they were taking these precautions because “quick, prompt, and effective responses are paramount.”

The government of Delta State, likewise, has announced its readiness.

It has announced preventative measures to lessen the impact of flooding in the state, including the readiness to establish IDP camps should the need arise.

“We are already opening drainages and demolishing illegal structures blocking the waterways,” the official stated.

Also concerned about the potential for flooding caused by the inauguration of the Lagdo Dam, the president of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, Tasiu Gidari-Wudil, has urged the government to build flood control dams along the Rivers Niger and Benue.

At a news conference held in Abuja on Monday, Gidari-Wudil said that important rivers should be dredged in order to lessen the amount of siltation and sedimentation they carry.

He expressed disappointment that the administration had not followed through on the recommendations of the committees formed in the wake of the devastating floods that occurred in 2012 and 2022.

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu’s Presidential Committee has pledged to implement a variety of rescue strategies and operations in response to the Lagdo Dam crisis.

At a briefing held in Abuja at the request of the committee, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Betta Edu called on the Governors’ Forum to take more decisive action by arranging for the rapid evacuation of Nigerians from flood-prone communities to safer destinations.

She said the President had ordered the appropriate ministries to convene to discuss how to address the flooding problem.

An environmental remediation specialist, Dr. Moses Paul, told DAILY POST in an interview that the safety and well-being of the impacted population should be prioritized by relevant stakeholders in order to minimize the potential harm caused by the flood.

It is Paul’s opinion that the President and state governors should work together with important stakeholders and distribute resources properly to manage the crisis in order to avert additional harm. Paul is also the Convener of Free Nigeria Movement/YELL OUT Nigeria.

He also suggested that the government establish weather monitoring stations, flood predicting models, and communication networks to better alert at-risk populations in the event of a flood.

The environmental specialist also emphasized the importance of providing psychological support services, such as mental health support and counselling services, to people who were impacted by the flood.

It is the first and primary responsibility of any government or leadership in the globe to take whatever measures are necessary to protect the lives and property of its residents.

Establishing effective communication channels, such as mobile alerts or community networks, to disseminate early warning messages and information to at-risk communities to help ensure timely preparedness and evacuation would, therefore, be a major concern and piece of advice for the Nigerian President and state governors in a scenario such as we face today.

It is essential that people of vulnerable regions be evacuated as soon as possible in a safe manner. Efforts to give flood victims with necessities like food, water, medical care, and shelter must be planned and coordinated.

Planning for repair and reconstruction in the long term will help affected communities rebuild and recover.

The availability of psychosocial support services is also crucial, since many people impacted by the flood may endure trauma, loss, or displacement. Helping people deal with the emotional and psychological fallout of this situation requires activating mental health assistance and counselling services.

It is essential for effective disaster response to encourage collaboration among many stakeholders, such as government agencies, NGOs, and local people. It will be possible to respond more effectively as a whole if people work together and share resources.

It is crucial that the Nigerian federal government and state governments, especially those along the River Benue, prioritize the safety and welfare of the affected population, collaborate with relevant stakeholders, and allocate resources effectively to manage the situation and prevent further damage by incorporating climate change projections into long-term flood management strategies for riverine areas.

If the government is willing to take the additional steps listed below, these goals are within reach.

The government should evaluate the risk of climate change and flooding in riverine areas. Population density, land use patterns, infrastructure, and social and economic conditions are all relevant to this evaluation.

The government should include in climate change scenarios, such as the predicted rise in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather occurrences, into its flood risk assessments. The likelihood of future flooding in riverine areas might then be assessed with this information.

Land-use laws in flood-prone areas should be strictly enforced, as the government should know best. Limiting development in floodplains is one strategy, as is encouraging sustainable land-use practices that lessen people’s exposure and vulnerability to flooding.

Building climate-resilient infrastructure in riverine areas should also be a top priority. Nature-based solutions, such as restoring wetlands and establishing floodplains, can also be implemented with the construction of flood-resistant roads, bridges, and buildings.

In addition to the aforementioned, the government should work with citizens to increase understanding of the threats posed by climate change and flooding. For example, communities can be educated on flood preparedness, early warning systems, and evacuation strategies through the organization of workshops, training programs, and public campaigns.

To sum up, the government of Nigeria should work with foreign organizations and partners to gain access to technical expertise, finance, and knowledge-sharing platforms. Working together, we can create and implement efficient flood management measures in light of future climate change predictions.

He said that the Nigerian government may improve preparedness for future floods and reduce damage to communities and infrastructure by factoring in climate change estimates into long-term flood management programs.

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