By Sheila Offiong
Abuja – The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) on Tuesday presented its 2019 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) in Abuja.
The AFO was presented at a workshop for key stakeholders to share knowledge, experiences and international best practices for the benefit of the country.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, said the AFO was the 7th in the series with the theme “The Role of Efficient Hydrological Services in National Development” by the agency.
Adamu said the AFO would serve as an early warning to people and communities located in and near flood plains and other vulnerable areas.
He added that it would also put in place actions necessary to ameliorate adverse effects of flood to lives and property.
The minister said the Federal Government has taken fundamental initiatives to manage river flows within the country.
“This has been achieved through construction of dams, reservoirs, artificial lakes, barriers and other structural measures and controls as well as non-structural measures such as flood plain mapping and sensitisation.
“We have also been working in partnership with the riparian countries of River Niger and Benue, as well as the Lake Chad Basin to control the release from dams in a way it does not cause havoc in Nigeria.
“We have regional bodies such as Niger Basin Authority (NBA), Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), Nigerian–Cameroon Joint Commission as well as Nigerian–Benin Joint Commission facilitating the pursuance of shared vision and effective management of shared water resources,“ he said.
Adamu said with adequate funding and establishment of more hydrological monitoring stations, timely forecast and established flood alarm systems at high risk areas associated with flood can be provided.
According to the Director General, NIHSA, Mr Clement Nze, the agency has predicted that 74 local government areas are highly probable to experience flooding, 400 LGAs are probable to experience flooding while 600 LGAs are under threat of flood in 2019.
“The issues here have been well articulated, no person should build structures within the flood plains, and people should clean their drainages.
“2018 was mainly river flooding and pockets of urban flooding.
“Urban flooding is caused by sudden rainfall of heavy amount for very short duration, the ground is unable to take in all of the torrential rain and begins to finds an escape.
“When the flood looks for a way to move and does not find any, it begins to pull down buildings and bridges.
“It is not easy to predict urban flooding, it occurs suddenly mostly, but river flooding can be predicted to a high level of accuracy because of equipment along the river channels in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Prof. Sani Mashi, Director General of Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), represented by Mr Mailadi Misau, Director Applied Meteorological Services, said the AFO had become an early warning tool in minimising flood catastrophies.
Mashi said the AFO and the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) that is issued annually by NiMet, would enhance national development in key sectors.
“I therefore call on all policy and decision makers in the three tiers of government to take these predictions seriously and prepare adequately against any eventualities.
“Let me advise that with the manner climate change events are unfolding globally whereby a number of predictions are upturned, it will not be enough to present the AFO and then sit back and watch events unfold.
“Since the outlook is only a prediction, it becomes necessary for NIHSA to institute a mechanism whereby all stakeholders are engaged and tasked to continuously monitor and report on deviation,’’ he said. (NAN)