By Gabriel Olawale
Experts and scholars championing environmental sustainability in Nigeria have called on governments and Nigerians to be more proactive and conscious of the danger associated with climate change, even as they noted that the recurrent flooding in Lekki and Victoria Island areas of Lagos is due to effects of climate change.
Speaking at the maiden edition of Sustainability Summit 001 tagged: Hot Cities- Adaptation to a hotter world, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos, Dr. Wale Alade, said that as human beings strive to urbanise and industrialise by way of burning fossil fuel, gas flaring and agriculture, so also it comes with challenges which if not handled properly, may cause more havoc than expected.
Alade explained that the displacement of over 14 million people in Nembe, Eket and other coastal settlements in Bayelsa, Delta, Cross River, Rivers, and Lagos States of Nigeria, are some of the realities of climate change.
According to him: “The impact of this global warming includes extreme heat and cold, sea level rise, increase and decrease in rainfall, wild fire. The Sahara desert is observed to be expanding annually at 1-10km2 while drying up of surface water like Chad has shrunk by 95 per cent since the 1960s.
“On a daily basis, we hear about loss of agric land from desert encroachment, flooding and erosion. Food insecurity and poverty increase the risk of hunger by additional 80 million people by 2080 in Africa and Southern Asia. Water scarcity makes people prone to water-borne diseases while wind and rainstorm killed 199 people and destroyed property worth 85.03 billion in Nigeria between 1992 and 2007.”
Corroborating Alade’s view, Head of Department, Urban and Regional Planning, Lagos State Polytechnic, Mr. Peter Fosudo, called for clean and environment-friendly technologies saying: “We need to stop gas flaring, promote non-motorised transport, and introduce energy efficiency in buildings.
“We need to promote and encourage renewable energy, reverse deforestation, establishment of better-equipped weather stations, recharge river basins and lakes among other measures.”
Speaking during panel discussion, Chief Researcher, Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Dr. Nubi Olubunmi, said that although the Atlantic City was conceived to prevent flooding in Lekki and Victoria Island, but as long as those areas are below the sea level, such palliative effort won’t have lasting impact.
Olubunmi said: “Governments have rules and regulations people are supposed to follow in building construction, but majority of people go through back doors to build their houses and that compromises the master plan. Majority of the houses do not have water channel.
“Many residents that live in Lekki have abandoned the down floor and moved to first floor because of flood. Another thing is that some people engage in indiscriminate sand dredging which also worsens the situation.”
Summit organiser and Sustainable Development Advocate, Mr. Kunle Oludapo said that the motivation behind the summit was to create a platform where experts can offer solution on the need to rethink the way town planners plan, design and build.
“Let’s look at the materials that can help us minimise the effect of climate change and extreme heat in particular. State governments across the federation need to create more awareness in a simple terminology that local people will understand. Government should team up with other stakeholders on state issues. They should interact with all the stakeholders and make them buy into their policies,” Oludapo noted.