Clement Nze, Director-General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHISA), has called on stakeholders to start preparing for the 2020 flooding season in order to avoid the ‘Fire Brigade Approach’.
Nze, who gave the charge on Tuesday in Abuja during NHISA’s 2020 maiden news conference, noted that when flood mitigating practices were put in place, the effects of flooding would be minimised.
“We are here to use this medium to inform Nigerians, stakeholders, the state governments in particular and individuals that this is the right time you can prepare for flooding.
“The state government and local government areas should avoid what we call generally the ‘Fire Brigade Approach’ when the rain is already here.
“So various governments of Nigeria should begin to prepare for possible flooding for 2020, open up the drainages, or create drainage paths where there are none.
“Remove the structures that are within the flood plains, and let there be adequate drainage paths,” he said.
Nze recalled that on Jan. 21, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) released its 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP), to tell Nigerians when the rains will start, the earliest onset and the cessation date.
He said: “In their prediction, they said the onset of the rainy season in the southern part of Nigeria will be starting from Feb. 24, and in the North, like Sokoto and Katsina, the earliest will be June 22.
“And then for the rainfall to begin to seize, because it starts seizing from the North, according to their prediction, from September 26, it will start seizing from the North downwards to the south, by Dec 28.
“This year the rainfall, from their prediction, will start early and end within the normal time, it means we are going to have a longer period of rainfall if the prediction goes through or things go on as predicted, there will be a longer spell of rainfall but we are monitoring it.”
The DG noted that so many factors enhance flooding, the rainfall being the major input and other factors being the geology and topography of an area.
According to him, flooding can also occur even when the rainy season in Nigeria has stopped.
He said: “Sometimes they can be flooding in Nigeria when the rains have stopped, for instance, last year when the rains had seized in Nigeria in early November, Cameroon opened the Laos Dam on the 10th of October.
“I kept calling the Cameroon authorities, asking did you release water, they said no, meanwhile their Laos Dam was open from October 10 to October 31, complete three weeks.
“Adamawa was submerged, a greater part of it, Taraba, Benue and eventually Kogi State, in the dry spell in Nigeria, when rainfall has seized, so when they open their dam and there is no rainfall in their own territory, flooding will occur.”
NHISA is responsible for monitoring all the major rivers in Nigeria, including the Transboundary Rivers Niger and Benue.
Its mandate, among others, is the provision of information and services required for efficient and sustainable management of the nation’s vast surface and groundwater resources including the security of life, property and water-related hazards such as floods and droughts.