By Ladi Ibrahim
Floods have become a recurring natural disaster in Nigeria, causing immense damage to infrastructure, the economy, and most importantly, the lives and well-being of its citizens.
Nigeria’s vulnerability to flooding has grown in recent decades due to many factors, including urbanisation, inadequate drainage systems, deforestation, and climate change. Rising global temperatures are causing extreme weather patterns, leading to more intense rainfall events and subsequent flooding.
Flooding often triggers a humanitarian crisis, displacing thousands of people and leaving them homeless, without access to clean water, food, and sanitation facilities. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are forced to rely on aid assistance, leading to severe strain on already limited resources.
Flooding wreaks havoc upon critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and power lines. This compromises public safety, disrupts essential services, and hinders economic growth and development. The cost of rebuilding and repairing damaged infrastructure poses significant challenges to the Nigerian government.
Flooding has far-reaching economic consequences, affecting agriculture, businesses, and livelihoods. Agricultural lands are submerged, leading to crop failures and livestock losses, negatively impacting food security and increasing reliance on imported goods. Small businesses and industries suffer significant financial losses, often leading to closures.
Floodwaters become breeding grounds for disease-causing organisms, heightening the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, and hepatitis. The lack of clean water, sanitation, and proper hygiene practices amid displacement adds to the vulnerability of Nigerian citizens, particularly children and the elderly. Inadequate healthcare infrastructure exacerbates the challenges in providing timely and effective treatment.
Flooding poses physical dangers and leaves long-lasting psychological scars on affected individuals. Displacement, loss of property, and the trauma associated with witnessing loved ones or community members suffer can lead to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The mental well-being of affected citizens requires attention and support during and after the flood crisis.
To mitigate the effects of flooding, Nigeria must invest in long-term solutions such as improved urban planning, the construction of drainage systems, reforestation efforts, and the establishment of early warning systems. Comprehensive disaster preparedness and response strategies should also be developed, involving government agencies, international organisations, and local communities.
Building resilience is crucial to enhance Nigeria’s ability to adapt and respond to the potential impacts of climate-related flooding. This includes raising public awareness, developing sustainable land use practices, promoting flood-resistant housing construction, and investing in flood insurance schemes.
The effects of flood disasters on Nigerian citizens are profound and wide-ranging. The ongoing challenges necessitate implementing comprehensive strategies to enhance resilience, minimise vulnerability, and protect the well-being of citizens. Addressing the complex issues associated with flooding requires concerted efforts from individuals, communities, governments, and international partners to ensure a safer and more secure future for all Nigerians.
Ladi Ibrahim wrote from the Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri.