Nigeria: Preparing for the Rains

14 February 2020
editorial

All stakeholders should take advantage of Nimet's forecast

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has given a broad outline of the quantity of rain to expect across the country this year. The authorities in the 36 states therefore have enough time to prepare adequately against the elements to avert another tragedy. The forecast projected that the coastal states will experience rain from February 24, while Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno States are likely to begin to experience rainfall from June 2. There are simple measures we must all take to minimise our individual and collective vulnerability. Blocked drains, especially in areas where flood waters easily accumulate and generate a strong force, should be cleared and subsequently kept free.

Meanwhile, NiMet should be applauded for preparing the report as it will serve as a guide for the various sectors of the country. One particular aspect of the report which farmers will find welcoming is the prediction of a longer than normal length of growing season across the country. Farmers are by the report urged to adopt moisture conservation techniques to mitigate crop losses during the wet season. Another important takeaway in the report is the advisory on flash floods.

Given the projection for high intensity of rainfall, particularly in the peak of the season, there is possibility of isolated flash floods in areas that are prone to flooding. Farmers can feel the brunt of devastating consequences of flash flood which can result in environmental degradation and in effect impact on the economy. Bearing this in mind, we advise all stakeholders to take this alert seriously because farms, roads, bridges and homes can be submerged by rains that provide significant flooding.

It is noteworthy that floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss and they have caused untold damage in the last couple of years, especially with prolonged rainfall over several days. Therefore, we implore all the relevant authorities to prepare for the rains with great diligence. Individuals and groups living on flood plains should be evacuated, or made to stay away from the potential dangers of their places of abode. The focus should be on prevention and pre-emptive intervention, because little is gained when resources that should be put into developmental initiatives are dissipated in dealing with avoidable emergencies and calamities.

We must also come to terms that the perennial bloodshed between farmers and herdsmen is embedded in the struggle for pasture which is scarce during the dry season in northern parts of the country. It is this scarcity that informs the seasonal migration of herders for fodders and water for the survival of their livestock, a development that occasionally makes clashes with other land users inevitable.

Because of the primacy of farmers and herders in the economic chain of our country, what is expected of government is to put in place measures that will sustain the harmonious relationship between these two groups and avoid needless bloodshed. Another challenge which stakeholders should reflect upon concerns reducing the alarming post-harvest losses in the agricultural sector. These losses that traditionally occur during the peak of the rainy season are detrimental to the country's economy.

It is one thing to have bumper harvest during the rainy season, but it is another thing to have the capacity to preserve the harvest for the dry season when the demand is high. This is therefore the time to begin the preparations. Before the rainy season comes!

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