Lagos seeks partnership with Israel to combat flooding

Eniola Ajayi, Lagos

In a bid to combat the perennial flooding in Nigeria’s commercial capital City of Lagos, the State government is set to partner with the State of Israel, especially in harnessing modern technology available in the Middle East nation.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who made this known at a Water Technology and Environmental Control Sensitisation Workshop, said there was no better time to consider environmental issues than now.

Governor Ambode said this against the backdrop of the recent flash floods witnessed in some parts of Lagos, noting that the situation had called for a re-engineering of the drainage systems.

“We have witnessed torrential rains which are quite unprecedented, we have witnessed our most prime estates flooded with water, we have seen our roads taken over by floods, and we have painfully watched how many homesteads have literally become pools.”

“These are trying times for any government, especially our own administration which has determinedly pursued massive infrastructural development to improve standards of living of our citizenry; however, if we have learnt anything in the on-going flooding of some parts of the State, it is that there is an immediate, even urgent need for us to embark on a review and reengineering of our canals and drainage systems, this must be pursued hand-in-hand with a clear and crystal re-envisioning of our water management system,” he added.

The Israel solution

The Governor affirmed that Lagos decided to look towards Israel because of the latter’s successes in overcoming its water challenges, saying that the forthcoming annual WATEC Conference in Israel would provide a good opportunity for Lagos to synergise with prospective investors.

“Here then lies the import of today’s gathering; Israel, which Lagos State has decided to partner with in developing water technology and environmental control, is one of the first countries to successfully overcome its limitations in water resources.”

“WATEC is a regular conference hosted by Israel and it is our hope that as a State, we will be present at the forthcoming WATEC conference in Israel later in the year to take advantage of state-of-the-art technologies in the industry,” he stressed.

Global challenges

Governor Ambode maintained that environmental issues such as flooding were not peculiar to Nigeria or Africa alone.

According to him, the United Kingdom and Japan have had their own experiences of flooding at one time or the other.

“The incidence of flooding is not circumscribed to our country alone, nor is it a peculiarity of the Third World, we may wish to recall that the United Kingdom was heavily flooded this year and, indeed, witnessed some of its worst flooding since records started in 1901; Japan, a country that is equally technologically savvy has also not been spared heavy flooding this year.”

“No matter how well a society may be prepared, we can never rule out the element of the natural or if you like, the supernatural, this is why Lagos State, and indeed Nigeria fully subscribes to the tenets of climate change solutions by the United Nations,” he reiterated.

Water-saving Israel

The Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Guy Feldman in a presentation, described the State of Israel with an 8.6 million population and 60 percent desert land, as a water-saving society.

In the words of Mr Feldman, “despite the fact that Israel has a 45 percent water shortage annually, the country now boasts of the largest desalination plant in the world.”

86 percent of Israel’s water is reused while 80 percent of its agriculture depends on irrigation.

Fastest growing city

Special Adviser to the Lagos State Government on Overseas Affairs and Investment, Professor Ademola Abass, while addressing participants, explained that Lagos being one of the fastest growing cities in the world, would no doubt contend with pressure on its infrastructure due to high influx of people.

“Lagos witnesses an influx of 86 persons per hour on a daily basis, many of them are not going out of the State, so as a result, there is much pressure on available infrastructure due to human activities, coupled with the fact that Lagos is surrounded by water,” Professor said.