Floods: How Prepared Are We For Next Rainy Season?
Last year has left many Nigerians aware of the dangers of natural disasters and their impacts which are often unlimited. Ruth Tene Natsa in this piece, looks at what can be done to prevent a recurrence in the coming rainy season.
Mallam Inusa Zangina is an Irish potato farmer from Jos whose farms were washed off by the 2012 floods.
He is afraid of the coming rainy season but believes God that he may have the opportunity to rebuild again.
“Who can query the Almighty he asks? My farms were washed off by the floods. It was a most frightening experience because of the magnitude but we are thankful to God who spared our lives because so many died in the process. At least we are still alive to rebuild what we have lost and we can plant again.”
Calling for the support of government, he said, “Aside rebuilding collapsed structures; there is need for government to step in before a worse situation will force us all to our early graves. We live everyday with the reality of the Boko Haram and the fear of attacks. Our environment which used to be beautiful has become a ghost of its former self. What Boko Haram has not destroyed, mining has, and what mining has not destroyed, flood has. Who knows what is next?
Zangina is just one out of the many farmers who live their lives afraid of the unknown but when it comes to natural disasters, there is the consolation that to some extent, government and community members have a stake in doing the best they can to ensure that what can be done is done to mitigate and where possible avert the disastrous effect of natural disasters on the environment.
A 2011 United Nations Development Programme report says that, “ poor and disadvantaged people suffer most from environmental degradation.” It went further to say that absolute deprivations in the environment could also erode the capabilities of people. This implies that no matter how hard working people are, a bad environment can and will affect the peoples’ efforts.
There are many reasons why the environment may become exposed and unfit for agricultural activities if the environment is not properly prepared for the season. These effects may vary from place to place and may include those caused by natural disasters such as climate change which may lead to desertification, flooding caused by river over flow as well as destruction of the natural environment as a result of mining activities without reclamation, improper drainage systems and even unfit farming methodologies.
In preparing the environment for the coming seasons therefore, it is inherent that bridges are built to meet with world standards, standing the test of time and able to withstand harsh and heavy overflow of flood during the seasons, while other efforts are put in place to ensure that farmers are better equipped to conquer the challenges this may pose.
To this effect, the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe has said the federal government would construct more dams for irrigation and flood control in the country,
In a speech read on her behalf by the Managing Director of the SokotoRima Basin Deveopment Authority in BirninTudu Village, Bakura Local Government Area of Zamfara State Alhaji Halidu Yusuf, during the roll-out of the dry season accelerated paddy rice production programme on Tuesday, she revealed that, “the Federal Ministry of Water Resources will continue to construct dams for irrigation and flood control, water treatment plants and boreholes for rural and urban water supply for the benefit of the people.”
She said that the Bakolori dam has made huge contributions to the production of various crops, poverty reduction, economic and social transformation among farmers in the area and assured that the Ministry of Water Resources will continue to collaborate with the Government of Zamfara State and other stakeholders who are concerned with the mandate of the ministry to transform the agriculture sector.
The coming of the rainy season always signals the preparations for planting and subsequently harvests. It determines the availability of agricultural produce, food and the market cost of products and also provides a line of revenue for the government, but how achievable this prospects are can only be determined by the availability of a prepared environment.
2012 revealed how unprepared the nation was for the unforeseeable when the Cameroun dams broke and flooded several states including Kogi, Plateau, the River Niger, Benue/Makurdi and Bayelsa among several other states. The flooding did not only destroy homes and properties, but wiped out huge farmlands leading to fears of food.
It was a wonder that Nigeria came out of the crises not worse off and barely suffering food scarcity as many feared, but the fact remains that the nation may not be able to survive a reccurrence of such magnitude if it happens again. Thus the need for all concerned to begin to prepare for the coming season.
Recorded as the worst floods in five decades to have affected many areas of the country – especially near the River Niger, it was a frightening experience for most communities living near the riverside areas as some homes were flooded with crocodiles, snakes and animals which found succour in homes after their natural habitats were disturbed by the flood.
The flood alleged to have been caused by improper drainage systems was said to have displaced over two million people while claiming over 300 lives. The water receded and the rains stopped in 2012, but it is another year and the rains have since begun. How prepared the nation is to tackle the unforeseen, remains to be seen.
The rainy season typically runs from March to September and is always a farmer’s delight, but the 2012 rains left many in dire need and destroyed the possibility of giving help and support to some victims as roads and bridges were destroyed, blocking the way for emergency services that could render aid. Even as everyone prays for a fruitful year, it is also time for those in authority to sit up and ensure all steps are taken to avert further future occurrence.