Environmental experts have called for a collaborative relationship between governments at all levels and the public, to control flood the hazards recently plaguing some parts of the country.
They have also urged Nigerians to be fully aware of the dangers of flooding and how to mitigate its effects.
Mr Abdullahi Aremu, Director-General, Advocacy for Environmental and Sanitation Integrity, an NGO, made the call in Abuja.
He said that floods were a natural phenomenon which was difficult to prevent, adding that floods could only be managed in order to reduce their physical, social and economic impacts on the people.
“In recent times, flood disaster management, like any other disaster, has shifted from relief, rescue, rehabilitation and recovery to a new paradigm that focuses on prevention, mitigation, preparedness and emergency response,’’ he said.
The director-general underscored the need for the government at all levels to invest more in preventive and mitigating actions in flood management.
“This includes investing in infrastructure for flood control and flood defence. It also involves building embankments along river banks and relocating communities from flood plains where necessary,” he said.
Aremu said that bad environmental practices typically caused the blockage of natural water channels and consequently induced floods and erosion.
“It is very difficult to fight water once its rage is unleashed on the environment.There is the need to clear the drains before the onset of rains to ameliorate the impact, rather than inviting disaster and waiting till the last minute or not doing anything at all. Where solid waste is indiscriminately dumped in poorly constructed and ill-maintained open drainage channels, a disaster looms in the event of a torrential downpour. In Nigeria for instance, floods kill and displace thousands of peoples; farmlands and property worth billions of naira are also destroyed by flood disasters in many local government areas across the country,’’ he said.
Aremu urged Nigeria to emulate countries like the U.S, Britain, Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh and the Philippines which had been able to effectively manage flood disasters at all levels.
He said that Nigeria should adopt the flood management procedures of those countries, adding that it would aid the country’s efforts to tackle flood hazards in a speedy and coordinated manner.
Similarly, An ecologist, Mr Habib Omotosho, urged government and other stakeholders to sensitise Nigerians on the dangers of flooding and how to mitigate its effects.
Omotosho, who is also the National Coordinator, Environmental Advancement Initiatives, an NGO, gave the advice in Abuja.
“Governments and their relevant agencies need to continue to sensitise the public on the dangers of flooding and how to ease its effects in the country. There is need to educate them against abuse of the environment as well as the importance of tree planting in efforts to reduce erosion and flooding,’’ he said.
The national coordinator said state and local governments should also embark on similar sensitisation campaigns on flooding, particularly at the grassroots.
He said those living in urban cities should refrain from constructing structures on drainages and waterways.
‘‘There is need for state and local governments to strictly enforce environmental laws and town planning guidelines so as to check uncontrolled physical development in their domains. Flash floods in the urban cities or semi-urban areas can be reduced with effective and adequate drainage systems. People must not use this facility as their refuse bins which will block and render the facility useless, with the probability of flooding heightening whenever it rains,’’ he said.
Omotosho urged people in the riverside communities not to erect residential structures on flood plains.
Nigerian cities like Lagos, Port-Harcourt, and Suleja have experienced heavy flooding in the last few weeks, with some fatalities recorded; goods and properties worth billions of Naira destroyed.