Abuja – The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) has warned that floods will likely occur in eight major rivers and their tributaries in the course of 2016.
The Director-General of the agency, Dr Moses Beckley, gave the warning at the presentation of the 2016 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) in Abuja on Monday.
Beckley listed the rivers as Niger, Benue, Sokoto-Rima, Anambra-Imo, Cross River, Niger Delta, Komadougu-Yobe, Ogun-Osun and several other sub-basins of the country.
According to him, the 2016 AFO is the fourth edition in the series, and is to provide information for decision and policy makers and stakeholders to promote adequate preparedness, mitigation and early warning.
The director-general explained that AFO was aimed at providing response measures for reducing flood risks and also to improve socio-economic activities and national development.
Beckley said that risks areas in the country had been classified into: High Risk, Medium Risk and Low Risk Flood areas.
While evaluating the previous flood situations in the country, the official said the 2013, which was the maiden edition of the AFO, recorded about 70 per cent manifestation in the confidence limit tests.
He said that about 63 per cent manifestation was recorded for the 2014 edition, while about 55 per cent manifestation was recorded in 2015.
“The fall in the degree of manifestation from 2013 to 2015 is seen as success story attributed to positive response from the government, stakeholders and citizens.
“This is due to the forecasts and putting in place mitigation measures for reduction in the probability of flooding occurrence and its impacts on the nation’s economy,’’ he said.
Beckey, however, noted that issues of hydrological hazards (floods and drought) had increasingly been major concerns all over the world mainly due to human activities, climate change and rising sea levels.
He said that in Nigeria, drought and desertification had been encroaching on arable lands in the northern parts of the country while gully erosion and landslide were noted in the south east.
The director said communities in the coastal and riverine areas were under the threat of recurrent coastal flooding and salt water intrusion.
He also said that flooding in urban areas had become noticeable in most cities in the country.
“Nigeria is blessed with numerous rivers and streams, the largest of which are the trans-boundary Rivers Niger and Benue.
“The influence of these trans-boundary rivers contribute to flood that is being experienced in some parts of the country. “
Earlier, Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, commended the agency on its efforts in curbing the menace of flood in Nigeria.
Adamu attributed the success in reducing flooding in Nigeria to the previous forecasts by the agency.
“The outcome of these forecasts had been the progressive reduction in the incidents of flood damage.
“This is not necessarily as a result of reduced flooding, but as a consequence of the timely heeding of the warning contained therein, by communities, agencies and government at various levels, “ he said.
According to the Minister, the dissemination of information on the forecasts to all corners of the
country in a timely manner has been most helpful.
“As we all aware, floods and other vagaries are inevitable and this may be exacerbated by the actions of man as can be observed by the climate change phenomenon being experienced globally presently.
“We may not be in the position to stop their occurrences, however, it behooves us to manage these extreme in such a manner that their effects are mitigated and become less devastating, “ he said.
In her keynote address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Hajia Rabi Jimeta, expressed satisfaction over the cooperation of other stakeholders in the water sector and NIHSA to control flood in Nigeria.
Jimeta noted that the AFO organised by NIHSA was to sensitise the nation including farmers, decision and policy makers, to ensure timely and adequate preparedness toward any probably flood scenario.
She said this was to prevent and mitigate its impact on nation’s economy.
She, however, regretted the late arrival of the 2016 AFO, saying it would still be a useful platform to alert the nation on likely flooding incidents and preventive measures.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of this year AFO is: “Managing Flood in a Changing Environment for Socio-economic Development. “