Mitigating flood risk in Nigeria, with Digital technologies

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By: Jamil Hassan Abdulkareem

email:abdulkarimhassan55@gmail.com

Beginning with worrisome statistics, according to Reuters-an International News Agency headquartered in London, “…more than 1.4 million people were displaced, and 2.5 million people affected by flood in 33 out of the 36 states of the federation including the FCT; with Bayelsa State alone recording around 700,000 of displacements from flood as at October, 2022.

Again, the floods, it was reported have triggered a cholera outbreak in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe respectively; with over 7,000 cases, while Borno State recorded over 5,000 cases-resulting in over 300 deaths, across these three states. No wonder, observers said, this year, Nigeria witnessed a very devastating flood case than experienced in the last 50 years.

However, comprehensive information on humanitarian needs of each state is still sketchy or unknown, as there has not been needs assessment made public yet, to the best knowledge of this writer.

While floods are natural events that cannot be prevented, it occurrences are linked to human activities, having varied consequences ranging from destruction of farmlands, destroy houses, displacements, loss of livelihoods and of lives.

It’s in light of this that Nigeria government needs to leverage on digital technology to combat the issue of climate change.

Technology and new digital tools have enabled fine hydraulic flood modelling. These tools make it possible to represent the usual bed of the watercourse, its banks, but also what is called the major bed, i.e. the zones on which water overflows in the event of a high flood. We can therefore model floods and see how the water flows, at what speed, through which streets it will pass, which obstacles it will encounter, which buildings will be impacted and thus carry out precise mapping of the flow mechanisms during the event. This approach can be taken in the case of flooding caused by overflow of a watercourse, but also in the case of incidents on existing structures such as the rupture of a dike.
The deployment of digital technology should go beyond just computer modeling and include use of mobile phone, social media such Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media device that obtainable at both federal, state and local government level as well as at grassroots level which may be involve in the dissemination of information on early warning sign of flood and possible measure to be taking to reduce catastrophic nature of the flood in rural communities.

To achieve these, strong synergy among relevant agencies like Ministry Environment, Water Resource, Nigeria Metrological Agency, Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management and Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy in collaboration with three tier of government namely Federal, State and Local Government in the area of information gathering, information sharing of early warning and sign of flood must be developed.
The ministry of environment and water resources should work closely in mapping out and identifying areas built on water ways, creation of dams that will contain the excess flows water and control flood, designing and creation more drainage system, design policy that will address flood issues in country and stringent measure be taking on defaulters.
However the Nigeria Metrological Agency(NIMET) and Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy should also synergized in area of information gathering and information sharing to government, communities, family and individuals on early warming and sign of flood, these can be achieve through involvement of tele communication company such MTN,GLO, Airtel etc. This development will definitely go a long way in educating people on flood matter thereby reducing flood cases.
Meanwhile Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management, effort should be in top gear in area of flood preparedness, response as well as mitigation and rescue of victim of flood, this may include budgetary allocation for ministry, purchase rescue equipment such helicopter , vehicle, boat, life jacket, training of her staff on international best practice in humanitarian and rescue mission and well as ensuring food stuff, water blanket and material are all at their disposal, in case of emergency and immediate need of the victim.

In conclusion digital technology should be adopted as one of the tools in addressing menace of flood in the country, government at all level, non-governmental organization, communities and individual should key into fight against such disaster with the view safeguard Nigeria from flood and it consequences.

JAMIL HASSAN ABDULKAREEM
Public Health and Environmental Management Analyst, is the
Registrar Galaxy College of Health Technology Bauchi