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We must check floods before they check us

On Tuesday, the Ogun State government urged residents of wetlands areas in the state to relocate to safer grounds before the rainy season. This came off the back of a weather assessment by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA). Both agencies warned that the rainy season which started in March will not end until December. They also predicted that 16 out of the 20 Local Government Areas in Ogun state are at risk of flooding, which might ultimately lead to erosion. Flooding is not peculiar to Ogun State, it is a challenge across the length and breadth of flood-prone areas in Nigeria. But, Ogun state’s situation triggered memories in my head.

After moving around Lagos with my family as a young boy, I spent another decade of my life living in the border towns between Lagos and Ogun state. I saw and experienced first-hand the devastating effect of flooding and erosion. Home wrecked, properties destroyed, and source of livelihood wiped away by fast moving waterbody in a short time. For readers asking where I’m referring to, its areas covering Akute, Olambe, Matogun, Oke Aro, Ibaragun, Agbado, Ijoko, and environs largely under Ifo LGA.

Flooding is as devastating as any infectious disease but I still wonder why it’s not getting the attention it ought to receive in Nigeria, Africa and many third world countries. Countries that have managed to mitigate the adverse effects of erosion are those who have paid keen attention to the challenge. When I speak to people about migration, I always say, every country has its own challenge, it’s only a nation’s shock absorber/preparation for the problem that’s different. The same goes for erosion, it is everywhere, but some regions/nations have learned to prepare for it and tackle it better than others.

Flooding in Nigeria poses significant challenges, impacting millions of people and causing widespread devastation. Heavy rainfall, coupled with poor drainage systems and inadequate infrastructure, leads to overflowing rivers, flash floods, and inundated communities. Homes are destroyed, livelihoods disrupted, and essential services paralyzed, exacerbating poverty and food insecurity. Moreover, flooding increases the risk of waterborne diseases, displaces families, and puts strain on Nigeria’s fragile healthcare system.

Agriculture, a vital sector of the economy, suffers losses as crops are washed away and farmlands become waterlogged. Few weeks ago, Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation announced in Abuja that Ondo, Cross River, Osun, Oyo, Ogun, Taraba, and Delta states which are responsible for 94% of Nigeria’s production of cocoa are at risk of being flooded this year. In a similar context, the President of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, announced in February that Nigeria, which ranks as the fifth-largest cocoa producer worldwide, will see a reduction in its cocoa output for the 2023-24 season. From between 280,000 and 300,000 tons to 225,000 tons due to adverse weather impacting harvests. Expected flooding from April to November could exacerbate these challenges, deepening a global cocoa shortage that has already pushed futures to unprecedented highs.

Climate change, which I will discuss more about in one of the subsequent paragraphs, also exacerbates the frequency and intensity of flood events, amplifying the socio-economic impacts on vulnerable communities. The effect of flooding transcends physical things, it also affects the intangibles. When flood affects crop yield and other sources of national revenue, it directly affects the economy. For instance, aside the current difficulty the naira is facing, a recent Reuters poll has predicted that sporadic flooding in Nigeria will set inflation further high in 2025.

Climate change plays a pivotal role in exacerbating flooding in Nigeria. Since 2000, flood-related disasters across the globe have risen by 134 per cent compared with the two previous decades. Rising global temperatures contribute to more frequent and intense rainfall events, leading to increased runoff and flooding. Not to mention changing weather patterns that disrupt traditional seasonal cycles, making it difficult for communities to predict and prepare for flood risks. Deforestation, urbanization, and poor land management practices further compound the problem, exacerbating soil erosion and reducing natural flood buffers such as wetlands and forests.

To effectively mitigate flooding in Nigeria, a multi-faceted approach is required, addressing both immediate and long-term challenges. The first thing I’ll recommend is raising awareness and building resilience. Community engagement and awareness-raising are vital components of flood risk management. Educating the public about flood hazards, early warning systems, and evacuation procedures empowers individuals to take proactive measures to protect themselves and their communities. There is a huge gap in this kind of public education in Nigeria. I also think that instead of finding a cure, we can prevent the disaster in the first place through public education. If most people who buy lands in flood prone areas have the right education on flooding, they can recognise flood-prone areas and avoid situating their houses there.

Similarly, fostering community resilience through capacity-building initiatives, emergency preparedness training, and the establishment of community-based disaster response teams strengthens the collective response to flooding events. Residents don’t need to be experts, but simple education on what to do when flooding happens could go a long way in saving lives.

Another primary strategy for mitigating flooding is the enhancement of drainage infrastructure. Many urban areas, let alone rural areas, in Nigeria lack adequate drainage systems, leading to waterlogging and inundation during heavy rainfall. Investing in the construction and maintenance of stormwater drains, canals, and culverts can help facilitate the efficient flow of water, reducing the risk of flooding in urban and peri-urban areas. Additionally, dredging, and desilting existing water channels can prevent blockages and ensure uninterrupted water flow.

Worth mentioning is the establishment of an effective floodplain management to minimize the impact of flooding on communities. Mapping flood-prone areas and restricting development in these zones can help reduce exposure to flood risk. Furthermore, preserving natural floodplains, wetlands, and buffer zones can absorb excess water during periods of heavy rainfall, acting as natural flood defenses. Integrating land-use planning with flood risk management ensures that development is undertaken in a manner that minimizes vulnerability to flooding.

Urban planners are not left out in tackling floods. Since urbanization exacerbates the risk of flooding by replacing natural land cover with impermeable surfaces such as concrete and asphalt. Adopting sustainable urban planning practices, such as green infrastructure and low-impact development techniques, can help mitigate flooding in urban areas. Incorporating features like green roofs, permeable pavements, and rain gardens promotes infiltration and reduces surface runoff, thereby decreasing the volume of water entering drainage systems during storms.

The role of international cooperation cannot be undermined because it plays a crucial role in mitigating flooding. Countries can share expertise, resources, and best practices to tackle their specific flood situation. By collaborating on flood risk management strategies, nations can enhance early warning systems, implement effective infrastructure projects, and build resilience to extreme weather events, ultimately safeguarding vulnerable communities worldwide.

There is sufficient evidence that climate change exacerbates the frequency and severity of flooding in Nigeria, making climate resilience a critical priority. Hence, investing in climate-resilient infrastructure, such as flood-resistant housing, elevated roads, and resilient water supply systems, can enhance Nigeria’s ability to withstand extreme weather events. Furthermore, integrating climate change adaptation measures into national and local policies ensures that flood risk management efforts are aligned with long-term climate projections.

Finally, addressing flooding in Nigeria requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders, encompassing government action, community engagement, and international cooperation. By adopting a proactive approach to flood mitigation and climate change adaptation, Nigeria can build resilience, protect vulnerable communities, and pave the way for a more sustainable and prosperous future. Together, we must prioritize investment in resilient infrastructure, sustainable land management, and community empowerment to minimize the impacts of flooding and build a more resilient and climate-resilient nation.

Olamide is a communications professional currently based in London, United Kingdom. He can be reached across social media platforms @olamidefrancis and via


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