Averting impending flood disaster this rainy season
A GOOD number of Africans experience heavy downpours, which often result to flooding. The floods in turn bring about death, destruction of property and crops and outbreak of diseases, among other extreme issues.
ALREADY, about 400 people have lost their lives after floods and landslides in the Kalehe territory of South Kivu Province, DR Congo. As at last Saturday, UN OCHA reported that around 1,200 houses were completely destroyed and a further 1,800 damaged, leaving 3,000 households homeless in the DRC flood. According to a statement by local officials on Sunday, the death toll had increased to 394.
UNITED Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said the affected communities are in dire need of assistance. “Immediate needs include supplies to ensure dignified and safe burials, medical care for those affected and injured, food assistance for all affected, and shelter for people who have lost their homes and are living in public places. Ongoing assessments by humanitarian actors will help determine medium and long-term needs,” UN OCHA said. A day of national mourning was observed on Monday, as announced by the Government of DR Congo.
A good number of other African and non-African countries are equally battling with floods, including New Zealand, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and there is no doubt that it will eventually get down to Nigeria as the peak of rainy season approaches.
RECENTLY, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) alerted the nation to brace up for high-risk flooding in the coming months. NEMA foresaw flash and urban floods over many cities and towns, stating that the reality is that this year may witness floods similar to what occurred last year if not more.
ACCORDING to NEMA, last year’s floods resulted in 665 deaths and injuries to 3,181 persons nationwide. A total of 4,476,867 persons were affected; 2,437,411 persons were displaced; about 944,989 farmlands were damaged and 355,986 houses were partially damaged or destroyed by flood.
ANAMBRA State Governor, Professor ChukwumaSoludo, last month, launched the Anambra Drainage Desilting Campaign and Operation. The initiative’s goal is makingAnambra the cleanest state in Nigeria, and checking flooding in the state.
THE campaign kicked off at the Ochanja Market in Onitsha South Local Council of the state. The exercise was followed by similar campaigns in other urban cities across the state such as Awka, the state capital, Nnewi, the automotive capital of South-East, and Ekwulobia, among others. The governor observed that previous plans of addressing flooding issues were ineffective. He said that the rainy season has arrived, and everything must be done to mitigate flooding in the state.
Meanwhile Anambra State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), led by the Executive Secretary, Paul Odenigbo and a team from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA),led by South East Coordinator, MrsEcheazu, alongside Local Emergency Management Committee (LEMC) and others held a sensitisation program on Thursday, in Ogbaru Local Government Area to inform the people that the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NISHA) and Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) had announced that some states across the country, including Anambra State, could experience flood incidents this year .
ALSO, Anambra State Commisioner for Information, Paul Nwosu, in several videos circulating in various social media platforms, urged communities in flood prone areas like in Ogbaru, Anambra East , Anambra West, Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Ayamelum, Oyi, Awka North and Ihiala Local Councils to begin early enough to guard against being taken by surprise such as through moving their properties upland. Nwosu also assured that the various internally displaced persons camps (IDP camps) used by the state last year are still there for the IDPs accommodations, even as he urged the citizenry to desist from dumping refuse in drainage channels.
THERE is a need for improved urban planning and monitoring of the drainage systems as most communities in Anambra lack proper planning even when they are characterised by poor drains that exacerbate flooding. There is need to invest in developing and implementing effective urban planning policies and infrastructure to prevent flooding.
IN ADDITION, the government should invest in the construction of flood-resistant infrastructure. Roads, bridges, and buildings should be built with materials that can withstand heavy rainfall and flooding, while codes of conduct should be enforced in the building sector to prevent the construction of buildings in flood-prone areas.
ALSO, there is need for increased and sustained enlightenment on flood prevention as many ndiAnambra are not aware of the causes and consequences of flooding and how to prevent them.
Since Anambra State Government has made holding camps available for the impending flood, we are encouraging those living near or within the water bodies and farmers to harvest their farm produce once it’s ready for harvesting and keep their properties, vital effects and credentials safe as they move to the holding camps made available once it’s time.
IT IS crucial for citizens to properly dispose of wastes and avoid throwing trash in gutters, canals, and other waterways.
It is also important that citizens should avoid erecting any form of structure on drainage; the dangers are too obvious in the future, and citizens should adhere to best practices in waste management and supporting government efforts to prevent flooding.
THE government and individuals should prioritise the clearing of drainage channels and ensure that they are regularly maintained.
NATIONAL Light urges the state government to establish Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs) in all local government areas.
NATIONAL Light maintains that preventing flooding in Anambra requires a collective effort from the government and citizens. By taking proactive measures, we can avert any devastating effects of flooding and make our communities safer and more resilient.