Floods: Experts raise alarm of looming food scarcity
Some experts, following the trend of flooding in Nigeria, have raised concerns about a possible food crisis in the weeks ahead, as a result of excessive rains and floods that have affected a good number of states within the federation. This ugly trend has, however, been linked to climate change and anthropogenic human factors, including the Lagdo dam in the neighbouring Republic of Cameroon which was said to have partially released its waters, No fewer than 300 lives have been lost and 500 persons reported to have sustained injuries as a result of the flooding n 2022 alone. This year's flood has been reported to be the worst in a decade too. Beyond the death toll, the flooding is believed to have affected about half a million people, displaced 100, 000 others and destroyed thousands of hectares of farmlands across 27 states of Nigeria including the (FCT). The latest statistics were gleaned from the Nextier SPD report, co-authored by Dr Chukwuma Okoli, an Associate Consultant at Nextier SPD and a Lecturer at the Department of Political Science, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State and Dr Ndu Nwokolo a Managing Partner and Chief Executive at Nextier SPD and an Honorary Research Fellow, School of Government and Society, University of Birmingham, UK. The experts noted that states in Northern Nigeria were more prone to flooding and have been the worst hit by floods. Specifically six northern states (Niger, Jigawa, Yobe, Kano, Katsina and Kebbi) accounted for 37 (35.9 per cent) of the total (103) floods recorded in Nigeria between 2011 and 2020. Both researchers equally asserted that "The agricultural losses recorded from recent flooding incidents will further worsen food scarcity. For instance, Olam Farm, one of Nigeria's largest contributors to the rice value chain, had its farmland of around 4,400 hectares in Nasarawa State completely submerged by excess water from the River Benue. This is a red flag for food scarcity. "There is a consensus among experts that flooding in Nigeria and elsewhere is caused by both climate change and anthropogenic human factors. Climate change engenders extreme weather conditions and excessive levels of precipitation which cause flooding, while human actions like poor dams operation, inefficient waste management, and building on natural waterways are key contributory factors to flooding. "For instance, the release of excess water from the Lagdo dam in the neighbouring Republic of Cameroon contributed significantly to the current flooding across Nigeria. There is also a governance failure on the part of Nigeria for failing to complete the building of the Dasin Hausa Dam in Adamawa state as agreed by the two countries years back. The Nigerian dam is supposed to act as a buffer for excess water from the Lagdo dam". Both researchers also argue that the frequency, intensity and impacts of flooding have worsened in Nigeria over the years, noting that between 2011 and 2020, Nigeria experienced 103 flood incidents across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with 9,501,777 persons affected, 1,187 lives lost, and properties worth $904,500 damaged. They, however, suggested that for Nigeria to get out of the current situation, the country must take proactive steps to build the capacity of its disaster management institutions to prevent and reduce disaster risks, including driving public and private investment in building disaster-resilient communities by building physical infrastructures which can withstand disasters. They also insist that Nigeria must prioritise building dams while ensuring the legislation and implementation of policies integrating flood prevention and reduction into land use and urban planning. The Nextier SPD researchers said Nigeria must strengthen its climate governance - actions to protect the climate through articulation and adoption of multi-sectoral regulatory instruments, while deepening diplomatic relations and collaboration with its neighbours, like the Republic of Cameroon, in disaster risk prevention and reduction. "The recent flooding across many states in Nigeria attests to the increased intensity and impacts of flooding in Nigeria. The floods also expose the realities and threats of climate change-related disasters in Nigeria and across Africa. "Despite efforts in disaster management, the floods experienced in 2022 reveal that weak capacity for disaster risk prevention and reduction remains a yawning institutional gap in Nigeria's disaster risk management. There is an urgent need to address the recurring flooding and other climate change-related disasters experienced in Nigeria by investing in disaster risk reduction and prevention and building disaster-resilient communities,"Both experts concurred.