Spotlight Activity: The Social Cost of Climate Change in Nigeria
Vulnerability to climate change is multi dimensional, complex, and dynamic which calls for the need to assess exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of more vulnerable groups as a requirement for structuring effective and efficient strategies to conserve them.
Cross River is a coastal state in South Eastern Nigeria, named after Cross river, which passes through the state. Located in the Niger Delta, Cross River State occupies 20,156 square kilometers. It shares boundaries with Benue State to the north, Enugu and Abia States to the west, to the east by Cameroon Republic and to the south by Akwa-Ibom and the Atlantic Ocean.
The climate within Ikot Offiong community of Odukpani Local government area and Esierebom – Henshaw town community in Calabar South local government area of Cross River State — is tropical humid with wet and dry seasons annual rainfall between 1300-3000mm. Precisely, these areas are characterized by high temperature, rainfall and humidity. Higher rainfall combined with increasing temperature may offset evaporation, so that both factors tend to increase surface water available for breeding of vectors. This climatic pattern has serious effects on the abundance and seasonal distribution of climate change impact. Fish are becoming scarce, some species are almost extinct, affecting their trading in seafood. Landslides are becoming a norm in the area; buildings are collapsing often consequently and cost of living is rising.
Ikot Offiong community is a settlement situated just before the Calabar Itu Bridge over the Calabar River a federal highway linking to the eastern part of Nigeria. It has a population of over 4,000 people. Yearly, when the tides are high, people are displaced yet most of them refuse to migrate. Esierebom, located at the coastal region of Henshaw Town, Calabar, in the southern part of Cross River with a population of over 5,000 people, experiences the same plight. They are both Efik speaking groups of the state. The yearly heavy flooding in these regions have not had any local, state, or federal government interventions but the people of these regions are usually left to fate.
Kogi is a state in the central region (Middle-Belt) of Nigeria, surrounded by River Niger and River Benue. Agriculture is the main part of the state economy with fishing in the riverine area. The state also has coal, petroleum, steel and other mineral industries. It suffers from severe flooding and erosion, which has greatly affected agricultural livelihoods. There has not been any intervention attempt in this area by government and none is anticipated. (Fieldwork 2016)
Lastly is the Ibusa community in Oshimili North local government area in Delta state. It is one of the Igbospeaking communities located west of the Niger Basin. It is naturally surrounded by a number of rivers: Oboshi, Atakpo, Odiuche, Ogbu Iyi, Ngene, Iyi-Ojii, Asiama and Obida with tributaries of some which empties into the River Niger. It is the fastest growing Anioma communities in Delta state.
Deforestation, environmental degradation, and resource depletion have greatly affected the farming culture of the people in Umuekea, causing increased hunger, poverty and diseases like diarrhea and malaria that disproportionately impact children. About 90% of malaria and diarrhea deaths are among young children. It has also affected transportation of farm produce to market, as the streets have become accident traps. The only steps taken to lessen their plight is done by individuals who only either take care of themselves or provide free borehole water. (Ibusa.net)
Status: Standing Still
The government is doing little to alleviate the impact of climate change in rural areas such as those described above. Unusual climate change induced heavy rains help cause waterlogged soils, which often lead to delayed harvest, severed transport problems due to flooded roads and damaged infrastructure, crop failure, food insecurity and poverty. These conditions have been going on for years now. With no management plan on the ground, this pattern will gradually lead to alarming and difficult to manage situations and possible extinction of indigenous people.
Write to Dr. Yerimah Peter Tarfa and Engr. Clement Onyeaso Nze
We suggest implementing social and environmental programs to educate and improve human development needs by working hand in hand with families, groups, and communities, especially the poor and vulnerable communities with low lying vegetation areas to help reduce the force of moving flood water and curb erosion. As there are more of such groups aside the ones listed above, it is not enough to send out flood warnings by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NISHA). You should also raise awareness on climate change and help people adapt daily restoration practices for mitigation, resilience, sustainability, and regenerative cultures so they can rebuild and protect their environment. The government should also put in place provisions for flood emergency response, management, and control in this regard increasing spending on flood defences, tackling climate change, building houses above flood levels, building man made channels to divert flood water to water storage areas, strategic tree planting and wetland protection must be encouraged.
Send Action Alert Message to:
Department of Climate Change;
Ministry of Environment,
The Director General,
Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA)
Mr. Ibrahim Adamu,
Plot 222, Foundation Plaza,
Shettma Ali Monguno Cresent,
Utako, Abuja, Nigeria