THE Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, reported its first flood incident in June 2023, following a heavy downpour that exacerbated into a flood submerging several houses in an estate.
Last year, flooding displaced 1.4 million people across various parts of the country from their homes and killed over 500 people. The federal government attributed the incident to unusual rainfall as a result of climate change and the excess water released from the opening of the Lagdo dam in Cameroon that flowed into the Nigerian River and its tributaries.
In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency said that the flood affected about 24,713 inhabitants in three of the six area councils of the FCT. This development forced the government to demolish houses on waterways as part of an effort to mitigate the flood.
However, experts told The ICIR that the government may need to develop a sustainable drainage system to channel water within communities, especially rural areas.
The ICIR captured the ordeal of residents who were impacted by the flood in 2022.
Mapping out flood zone areas
At the beginning of this year, Abuja was listed as part of the state at risk of heavy flooding in 2023. Weather25 forecasted that FCT would have 74 days of rain in 2023 with the highest rainfall impact from May and September.
However, the recent incident in the Tradmore estate showed that the emergency response of relevant authorities to flooding has been poor, Taiwo Ogunwumi, a flood risk consultant, told The ICIR.
“Yes, the authorities in charge of flood risk identification and predictions are doing their best. However, there is more to be done. An example is the provision of highly detailed flood risk maps indicating the major natural and anthropogenic features (quantification and providing information on the economic cost loss that may arise from the future flood) that might be affected by floods,” Ogunwumi said.
Meanwhile, The ICIR analysed several media reports of flood occurrence in Abuja in the last four years and learnt that 20 communities within the six local councils have reported at least one incident of flooding.
These communities include Lugbe, Lokogoma, Garki, Wuse, Damagaza, Gwagwa, Nyanya, Galadimawa, Gaduwa, Mpape, Kubwa, Dutse Makaranta, Giri, Yangoji and Kwaita.
Some other areas are located in Karmo, Apo, Apo-Dutse, Abbattoir, Angwan-Dodo, and some communities around Kuje local council.
Findings showed that the Abuja Municipal Area Council has the highest number of communities that have been impacted by floods. This, however, may not be unconnected to several water settlements (lake, river and creeks) found within the council.
(The map [zoomable] above shows water settlement across the FCT)
As a result of these settlements, communities around these riverbanks are eventually impacted when the water level rises due to heavy rainfall. For instance, a report captured how one person died in the Galadimawa axis of Abuja after heavy rainfall increased the water settlement in the area.
Climate expert Daniel Oladoja also told The ICIR that in the last century, human activities have disrupted the natural order of things climatically, which resulted in the excess precipitation that brought about flooding.
He said, “Excess rainfall places a strain on natural ecological systems and, in the absence of structural buffers, could lead to destructive flooding. Plainly speaking, excess rainfall could significantly swell the volume of water in the river systems and when those reach their carrying capacity, they will spill over on residential and agricultural lands.”
Mitigating the flood
Speaking at The ICIR Twitter Space the NEMA Assistant Chief Information Officer, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, said the agency has begun to sensitise people on flood mitigations and set up emergency structures across all state levels.
He said, “Presently, NEMA has already released climate disaster-related preparedness and migration strategy, which it is trying to downstream to the local government level.
“The major challenge we have in this is that most of the state emergency management agencies are not as functional as they should be. According to the Act which set up the National Emergency Management Agency, we have to work with the state and local disaster management agencies, which of course is virtually not available in most of the local governments.”
Ogunwumi, while projecting more flooding this year, said there is a need to improve the details of the early warning report, that is, the quantity of the possible impacts of the flood e.g. population, farmland, and market stall that can be affected by this flood.