EVENTS of flooding in Lagos State are no longer new. They have become reoccurring situations virtually on an annual basis with severe implications.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC), in its 2016 report Financial Management of Flood Risk, put the annual loss to flooding at over $40 billion, affecting about 250 million people.
But it gets more worrisome when the most vulnerable – children end up being the high target.
Every year!!!! Same same in Lagos!!
Nothing is ever done about flooding but to tell citizens to move…..
Pls keep your saloon cars at home o.
Even SUVs dey swim 🏊♂️ pic.twitter.com/bN31UuLOzK
— Kate Henshaw (@HenshawKate) July 16, 2021
The case of a four-year-old girl who went missing after a heavy downpour mid-last year in Lagos is still fresh in mind.
Still, the 2022 Seasonal Climate Predictions (SCP) released by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) in the first quarter of the year revealed a similar pattern of the downpour as witnessed in the preceding year.
It predicted “a normal to above normal rainfall patterns” in the country. Again, there might be a late cessation of the rainfall.
With over 117,481 people, Ibeju – Lekki has always been in the news for its growing economic opportunities or environmental reasons, mainly during the rainy season.
Regardless, once there is a heavy downpour, it cripples businesses, causing heavy traffic gridlock, and permeates people’s homes. But, not much of its effects have been told on elementary schools.
Data obtained from the Geohazard Risk Mapping Initiative (GRMI) on Thursday, April 28, revealed at least 32,685 primary school pupils across 164 schools in the Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos are at the risk of this year’s flooding.
According to the document, the risk level ranged from ‘High Risk’ to ‘Very High Risk,’ with only five schools in the high-risk category.
The group is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that deploys geographic information systems and satellite imagery analysis to create susceptibility and emergency mapping of actual or expected natural, biological and technological hazards experienced in the country and other African nations due to climate change.
The exercise is carried out with inputs from external resources such as the annual seasonal rainfall pattern report from the NIMET and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Speaking on the data and its environmental implication to real-life issues in the affected LGAs, Executive Director of the NGO Taiwo Ogunwumi said the initiative is aimed at using geospatial technology to create maps of communities most vulnerable to floods and flood impacts.
“We strived to adopt the power of geospatial technology to create flood susceptibility maps at the community level; we understand the loss and damages caused by the previous yearly flood in Nigeria, most especially to farmers and traders who are already vulnerable,” he said.
“Over the year, most of the predictive flood maps provided by the National Emergency Institution only show the state in Nigeria at flood risk, without detailing local governments at various risk levels (which is the gap we use our maps to fill).”
He referenced the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) programme among data sources for the flood prediction assessment.
“We prepared the flood risk analysis and overlayed the flooded area with the dataset of all the schools located within the region mapped for flood susceptibility.”
“The dataset for schools (primary and secondary) was sourced from the GRID3,” Ogunwumi added.
Analysing GRID3 data
Based on the information provided on its official website, GRID3 is part of a global initiative working towards improving access to data for decision making in all member countries.
Initiated in March 2018, the GRID3 project works across the nation to collect accurate, complete and geospatially referenced data relevant to various sectors.
The ICIR observed the platform has about 1247 available datasets in 37 states and 12 sectors. Some include energy, education, commerce, population, and agriculture, to mention but a few.
Meanwhile, identified schools in the high-risk category are Fazil Omar Ahmadiyyah Primary School, Community Primary School, Iba Oloja, Snow White Primary School, and Lekki International School.
The remaining 159 schools were listed as ‘very high’ in flood susceptibility.
They include Barach Academy, RCM Primary School, Local Government Primary School, Akodo, Fel Eben Montessori School, Great Topeb Academy, and Corona School, to mention but a few.
A similar local government with a potential flood incident is Amuwo Odofin. The data captured at least 1,187 pupils in about 416 primary schools.
Some other locations identified as prone to flood are Ilorin East and Ilorin West LGAs in Kwara State, Logo LGA in Benue State, Maiduguri LGA in Borno State, Birnin-Kebbi LGA in Kebbi State, Ngala LGA in Borno and Fufore LGA in Adamawa state.
Lagos Commissioner keeps mum on mitigation plans for pupils
The Lagos State Commissioner for Information Gbenga Omotosho was contacted to verify the level of preparation against flood in the local government, especially in the primary schools identified, but he did not respond to calls put to his line.
He was yet to respond to a text message sent to him as of filing this report — also a text message sent through the WhatsApp messaging platform.
But, in April 2021, the state government issued a flash flood alert warning of a maximum precipitation prediction of 1,747mm across about 261 days. It asked residents to adopt safety measures and desist from littering canals with refuse dumps to avoid loss of life.
As usual, a similar warning alert was issued on April 1. This time with a relatively higher downpour. It disclosed its existing partnership with the Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority, and the likes would come in handy in flood management. Still, no specific plans were announced to protect the vulnerable school pupils.