The Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has predicted that several states in the country could be submerged this year as a result of heavy rainfall and flooding if adequate precautions are not taken. Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger and Kwara states in the north are areas with the highest probability of bearing a larger weight of the negative flooding impact in the country this year, according to the director-general of NIMET, Mr Anthony Anuforom, at the public presentation of the 2013 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) and Nigeria Climate Review Bulletin in Abuja.
"However, for some areas in the north-western parts of the country, which also fall within the catchment area of River Niger, the total rainfall predicted for 2013 may exceed that of 2012. Rainfall for 2013 is predicted to be normal over large areas of the country," he said. "The expected changes in the annual rainfall are well below normal in Abeokuta and above normal over Ibadan and Yelwa areas. The predicted rainfall for the north-west areas of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara and environs is likely to be above normal in comparison to 2012."
He stated that the volume of rainfall for the year would range from 420 cubic metres spread over 120 days in the extreme north-east to 2,980 cubic metres over a period of 290 days. For good measure, he advised the relevant authorities to use NIMET's updates issued regularly to control possible adverse impacts, explaining that the forecast was not automatic and could change due to climate change.
Usually generated by a variety of scientific techniques, forecasts are statements of probability and are based on the available scientific knowledge and data. In more developed milieu, similar forecasts are taken seriously and usually guide proactive policy and intervention strategies of governments and relevant agencies. Late last year, the country faced unprecedented flood disaster resulting in considerable loss of lives and property running into billions of naira.
In several states, many were chased away from their homes. 2012, therefore, recorded the worst flooding Nigeria had ever experienced in at least half a century. This led to the displacement of over one million people as well as the associated destruction of several farmlands that came with it. At the peak of the flood disaster, houses, bridges and roads were washed away.
Our infamous culture of reactive as opposed to proactive policy formulation and deployment provides a weighty cause for worry, especially in the face of managing the fortunately predictable vagaries of mother nature. This must change. We must learn from the past and take advantage of the intervening period for proper dam management and construction of buffer dams.
There is also need for the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and other related agencies to sensitize communities and settlements living on flood plains on the possibilities of flooding. It is also imperative that community-based early warning systems required for effective grassroots participation in the management of flood be provided and installed.
NIMET has done its part. Our policy designers and implementers and intervention agencies must do theirs. They have the time to work now.