Monday 19 October 2015

Climate Change And Lagos Rain Alert

Lagos Rain
by: Tayo Ogunbiyi

According to the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organisation, which monitors global weather, the first quarter of 2014 have witnessed an abnormal number of extremes of heat, cold and rain across the world at the same time causing enormous disruptions to transport, power systems and food production. Indeed, from the current climate trend across the globe, it is apparent that the world is experiencing a slight change in weather condition. 

There have been heat waves in Slovenia and Australia, snow in Vietnam and the return of the polar vortex to North America. Britain has also had its wettest winter in 250 years while temperatures in parts of Russia and the Arctic have been 10C above normal. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere has had the warmest start to a year ever recorded, with millions of people sweltering in Brazilian and southern African cities. Both equatorial and polar regions have experienced extreme weather conditions this year. In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia, Argentina and Brazil have experienced extended heat waves. Similarly, the unusually cold weather in the eastern US coincided with severe storms in Europe.

In Nigeria, we have already witnessed an unusual intense rainfall across the country with grievous consequences on socio-economic activities. In Lagos, for instance, we have been experiencing rainfall since the beginning of the year. According to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, Lagos is expected to record 1960mm as total amount of rainfall. 

The strong winds, lighting and thunderstorms which were regular phenomena during the onset and cessation of rainfall were also predicted to occur in stronger magnitude during this year rainy period. It is with a view to ensuring that Lagos residents are not caught unawares by this modification in global climate trend and its attending consequences that the Lagos State Government recently alerted residents in the state that 2014 would possibly witness heavier rainfall than the previous years.

Being a coastal state, Lagos has a peculiar flooding challenge. A vital aspect of the state’s landscape is that it is basically made up of low-lying terrain up to 0.4 per cent below the sea level. Obviously, this constitutes serious drainage challenge for the state thereby making it vulnerable to flooding. Presently, the ocean worldwide has risen. 

In Lagos, the water from the Lagoon goes into the Atlantic Ocean. Once the Atlantic Ocean is full, the water from the Lagos Lagoon cannot get into it. Consequently, the excess water from the Lagos Lagoon would naturally lead to flooding. This is why it is vital that Lagosians desist from all human activities that could further aggravate the flooding situation in the state. Therefore, actions such as indiscriminate dumping of refuse in unauthorised places like drains and canals, trading on drainage channels, illegal building of structures on drainage alignments, road setbacks and verges among others should be shun by the people. 

Lagosians must, at all times, embrace positive attitude towards the environment. Lagos presently has a population of 18 million people and it is still increasing. The implication of that on our environment is increased tons of waste generation. If this trend of environmental abuse, especially indiscriminate waste disposal, persists, it may spell more doom than what we are experiencing now in terms of flooding.

In order to forestall avoidable danger to human lives and property, residents who reside along flood plain areas and the lagoon should relocate as soon as the need arises. In an effort aimed at addressing issues bordering on safety in all its ramifications, the state government will notify such residents at the appropriate time about several measures being put in place for their safety. But in the meantime, residents who live in flood prone areas of Ikorodu, Owode, Iwaya, Makoko and Ijora Badia should be extra conscious of happenings in their environment, especially as they relate to the change in weather condition.

The danger of flooding is so grievous that everyone, especially those living in susceptible locations, must take necessary precautions before it is too late. According to experts, flooding can cause a range of health impacts and risks, including death and injury, unhygienic drinking water, harmful material spills, increased populations of disease-carrying insects and rodents, moldy houses, and community disruption and displacement. As rains become heavier, streams, rivers, and lakes can overflow, increasing the risk of water-borne pathogens. 

Consequently, Lagosians should ensure that they stop all practices that could put a clog in the wheel of government’s efforts aimed at tackling flooding. Lagos residents must be ready to cooperate with the state government by embracing positive attitude in their response to the environment. These include proper waste disposal, compliance with building regulations, embracing alternative energy use, paying necessary attention to sanitation issues, not building structures on drainage channels, flood plains and on water pathways. in general, they must desist from all activities that could compromise the huge investment the state government has committed to environmental regeneration .

On its part, government has continued the expansion of existing drainage channels in order to contain more storm water. This is in addition to the lining of many earth channels, strengthening of Resident Engineers/Drainage Maintenance Officers to oversee drainage matters in all our Local Governments/LCDAs. Other activities of the state government geared towards deflooding are improved waste water disposal as well as dredging and maintenance of primary and secondary channels across the state. The state government has also put in place enforcement and compliance machinery coupled with the provision of additional transfer loading stations in order to avert and combat flooding. Improved waste management and collection system, annual tree planting programmes, sustained sanitation and advocacy programmes and strengthening of school advocacy programme are other integral parts of the state government’s efforts to protect the environment.

Being a natural phenomenon, man has yet to discover scientific mechanism that is capable of stopping rain. However, it is still within the capacity of man to mitigate some of the adverse effects of rainfall. It is in view of this that relevant stakeholders and, indeed, all residents in the state need to collaborate with government in order to ensure that this beautiful gift of nature does not become a curse to us. Together, we can mitigate the effects of flooding in the state.

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