The Federal Government of Nigeria has reported severe flooding in 21 local government areas across 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) due to recent torrential rainfall. The announcement was made by the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Engr Joseph Utsev, during a press briefing in Abuja, alongside Minister of State for Water Resources and Sanitation, Bello Goronyo, and the Director General of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA).

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Engr Utsev stated that the flooding, which began as early as April 2024 in some regions, is primarily caused by high-intensity, long-duration rainfall and inadequate drainage systems. The most affected areas include Anambra (Onitsha North), Edo (Benin), Benue (Makurdi), Kwara (Oke-Ero, Moro), Lagos (Agege, Alimosho, Ikorodu, Lagos Island, Ikeja, Eti-Osa), Ogun (Ijebu-Ode), Osun (Oriade), Nasarawa (Doma), Taraba (Takum, Sardauna), and several local government areas in the FCT such as AMAC, Kuje, Gwagwalada, Bwari, and Kwali.

The minister referenced the 2024 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) by NIHSA, which had predicted that 148 LGAs in 31 states were at high flood risk, 249 LGAs at moderate flood risk, and 377 LGAs at low flood risk. The high-risk states include Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross-River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara, and the FCT.

Engr Utsev emphasized the urgency of taking preventive measures as rainfall increases in frequency and intensity, particularly in the southern parts of the country. He warned that the rising water levels could exacerbate the ongoing cholera outbreak, which has already resulted in 63 deaths and 2,102 suspected cases as of July 3, 2024, according to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, the minister mentioned that both Kainji and Jebba Dams on the River Niger and Shiroro Dam on the River Kaduna are currently impounding water, with no releases yet. He also noted that river flooding is expected to begin in July 2024, affecting 19 states including Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Adamawa, Benue, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Jigawa, Kogi, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger, Nasarawa, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers, Taraba, and the FCT.

As Nigeria is situated within the River Niger Basin, which is shared by nine countries, flooding in upstream regions significantly impacts the country. The minister assured that the government is monitoring the situation closely, particularly developments at the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, which currently poses no immediate threat.

The government has called on states and local governments to mitigate the impact of the impending floods. Recommended measures include educating citizens on flood prevention, clearing blocked drainage systems and canals, relocating people living along waterways, and constructing flood barriers and other water-retaining structures. Engr Utsev stressed the importance of proactive measures to prevent the devastating effects of floods experienced in previous years.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has also identified 11 high-risk LGAs in Anambra State and urged collaborative efforts to mitigate the impact of the floods. NEMA Director General Zubaida Umar emphasized community participation in disaster risk management, while Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo, represented by Deputy Governor Dr. Gilbert Onyekachi Ibezim, called for the construction of more dams along major rivers to reduce flooding.

The Nigerian government’s warnings and recommendations highlights the critical need for preparedness and collective action to manage the flood risks and protect lives and property.