Following the impending flood to be witnessed in many parts of the country, as declared recently by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET), as indicated in the 2016 Annual Flood Outlook of the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA) and as corroborated by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), it is with a deep sense of responsibility that the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) wishes to intimate fellow Nigerians on the course of action to take to reduce the impact of the imminent disaster.
True to the regulatory agencies’ declaration that flood will affect all the states of the federation except Ekiti, Kaduna, Oyo and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), some communities in Benue, Gombe, Kano, Nasarawa, Plateau, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara have already been overwhelmed by flood. The declaration also has it that the havoc wreaked will be of the same proportion as what was witnessed in the country in 2012 in which 363 persons were killed, 2.1 million people displaced and losses recorded put at N2.6 trillion.
Thus, NCF wants to urge Nigerians to ensure they engage in various short and long-term sustainable measures that can mitigate the effects of climate change that are now with us, rather than live in fear of the flood.
In the immediate, we urge Nigerians to as a matter of urgency embark on decongesting and clearing drainages in and around their surrounding and engage in proper waste management by disposing of their wastes in designated dump sites only.
The Climate Change Agreement signed to law in New York on April 22, 2016, also prescribes measures that will forestall or at least minimise the fury of nature and protect the planet earth as well as enhance prosperity and alleviate poverty.
To this end, we implore all, particularly business organisations, to consider cutting down on fossil fuel usage and promoting energy use efficiency in their business operations towards the attainment of a green economy. Also, other activities that will keep the atmospheric temperature below 2 degrees Celsius should be made a priority, in line with the Climate Change Agreement.
All these have already been incorporated into Nigeria’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the global efforts at urging action aimed at stemming further environmental degradation and unsustainable environmental practices.
The time to act is now as the reality of the impact of Climate Change is clearly manifesting in our daily life.
NCF acknowledges the tree planting effort of some state governments and wants to encourage other states that are yet to commence such initiative to do so in order for such to act as natural flood barriers. The reactivation of existing community early warning system that can assist vulnerable communities to plan and mitigate the impact of flooding as it affects livelihood, farmlands, and survival is also a very strong step that should be taken as priority by state governments at this time.
NCF, therefore, seeks to encourage people living in flood-prone areas to embark on decongesting and clearing of drainages in and around their surroundings and engage in proper waste management by disposing of their waste in designated dump sites.
Business organisations should also reduce fossil fuel usage, promote energy use efficiency in their operations and prioritise keeping the atmospheric temperature below 2°C so as to minimise the threat of the looming natural disaster.
Coastal states such as Lagos, Bayelsa, Delta and others must take necessary actions in curtailing the activities of illegal sand miners as this will also help prevent coastal erosion in the communities. Regulatory bodies involved should be fully prepared to handle the consequent emergency situation in manners that will prevent or minimise losses. Environmental education campaign should be intensified in the flood-prone areas and in other parts of the country while relief materials and palliative measures should be put in place to help the vulnerable.
NCF is hopeful that if necessary actions stated above are duly considered, losses of life, livelihood and property, such as experienced in the years past, could be prevented.
***Karunwi, is the Director General of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation