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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Nimet Warning Signal

PREDICTION of weather and climate has become a general phenomenon and standard practice in all parts of the world including Nigeria. However, the 2021 prediction by the Nigerian Metrological Agency (NiMet), Nigerian Hydrological Service Agency (NHSA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is worrisome and frightening.
THEY warned about the likely occurrence of floods and hazards associated with extreme weather events in Nigeria this year. This has become a source of concern to many Nigerians as well The Hope. This is particularly important because response to crisis or emergencies in the country has always been slow or not available at all and the fact that many Nigerians because of poverty resort to prayer and fasting to solve them instead of action.In a society like ours that is struggling to develop, scientific predictions as presented by these agencies should be taken seriously.
THE 2021 seasonal climate prediction revealed that there would be flash flood in July and high intensity rainfall by September 2021. It warned that above-normal rainfall could lead to the erosion of roads and bridges which would hinder the movement of people, goods, and services across Nigeria. Also, NHISA 2021 flood outlook indicate that 121 local Government Areas in 27 states and the Federal capital Territory will expect a high probability of flood risk while 302 local Government Areas will experience moderates’ risk of floods. The remaining 351 Local Government Areas will fall within the low probable flood risk areas. Flash flood, urban flood and communities along rivers Niger and Benue are expected to experience flooding.
THEYalso raised caution in the aviation sector because squall lines, thunderstorm, wind shear, microburst, flash floods can affect runways thereby disrupting landing and takeoff of aircraft, causing delays in flights, affecting sensors along runways and can lead to plane crashes in some cases. In addition, NEMA early warning alerts indicate likely flood in several Local Government Areas in the country. The summary of the weather and climate predictions by these agencies for 2021 was that parts of Nigeria will experience flooding incident this year. This calls for caution and actions by all residents of the country.
GOING by the past destruction and devastation accompanying vagaries of weather and climate in Nigeria, there is urgent need for immediate action. According to NEMA for instance, in 2012, flooding affected 32 states killing more than 360 people and displacing almost two million others. In 2015, more than 100,000 were displaced with 53 deaths recorded. In 2016, 92,000 people were displaced and 38 died. In 2017, it affected 250,000 people in eastern- central region.
THE extreme weather events anticipated this year though will result from natural phenomenon; they are usually aggravated and made more severe or devastating by human activities which include building of houses on water courses, lowland areas, and river banks. Indiscriminate dumping of refuse on drainage channels can block free flow of water resulting in flooding.
INADEQUATE planning and lack of adherence to Town planning regulations that preclude development on fragile and ecologically sensitive land is an important factor contributing to environmental problems resulting in climate weather conditions.
THE above and the frightening 2021 predictions on occurrence of extreme weather events suggest the need for concerted efforts to forestall their occurrence and to develop the capacities to counter and mitigate its consequences when they occur. The need to effectively and efficiently prevent, manage all extreme weather events including disasters and associated hazards to save lives and livelihoods in Nigeria becomes essential.
NiMet and agencies responsible for emergencies and disaster management should be more alert to their responsibilities of warning the citizenry to desist from actions that may increase the incidence and magnitude of weather instigated disasters. They should further identify flashpoints and local communities vulnerable to negative consequences of extreme weather events as predicted.
THEY should not limit their actions to just warning. In addition, emergency response plans should be introduced and activated by all levels of government at local, state, and federal levels. Further Town and Building approval process should be strengthened to ensure people don’t build and reside in areas prone to disasters associated with weather and climate.
THEREFORE, agencies involved in land, housing and environmental management should be alive to their responsibilities to ensure compliance to planning regulations as well as protect ecologically sensitive or fragile areas.
EFFORTS to address the consequences of climate vagaries should include education and mobilization of the citizenry to be aware of the likely occurrences of extreme weather conditions such as flooding. People should not disregard NiMet’s warning signals because of religious beliefs but to take actions. There should be proper and constant clearing of drainage channels. Indiscriminate dumping of refuse into waterways should be stopped.
IN addition, farmers around wetlands and river banks prone to flooding should be aware and harvest their farm products before the periods identified for flooding. People that build and are living in ecologically sensitive areas such as coastal environment should be relocated from such places. In a similar way, motorists and pedestrians should avoid high volume storm water during the period.

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