This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Nigeria Country Manager Peter Hansen
Over the last handful of years in Nigeria, floods have been devastating multiple regions in the country. Throughout 2020, flooding directly affected more than 2 million people in Nigeria, including 69 deaths. In 2019, there was 158 deaths with over 200,000 people affected. This flooding has paralyzed economic activity at an estimated cost of over $4 billion per year (CNN). Severe flooding continued into 2021 as Nigeria has seen some of its worst flooding to date in the states of Niger, Jigawa, Bauchi, and Adamawa. Sadly, the worst is yet to come as experts predict the worst floods to come during rainy season in the end of September.
One specific flood has created multiple problems and is also a warning sign for what is to come. Lagos experienced drastic flooding in mid-July, which is much earlier than expected. According to Nigeria’s hydrology agency, NIHSA, there will be “…more catastrophic flooding in September, usually the peak of the rainy season” (CNN). Lagos, the most populous city in Africa, is home to around 24 million people and is a low-lying city on the coast of Nigeria. Experts predict that the city will become uninhabitable by the end of the century due to climate change. A main reason for these floods has been the deteriorating coastline caused by sand mining and building out the island city dubbed Eko Atlantic City. This man-made city has taken sand from the coastline and distributed it elsewhere to build the city, but as a result has left the rest of the coastline vulnerable.
In addition to the blatant mishandling of the coastline, Lagos was not, and likely will not be, prepared for floods. According to the Institute of Development Studies, the floods were exacerbated by “…inadequate and poorly maintained drainage systems and uncontrolled urban growth” (CNN). Since Lagos is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, they have not been able to build adequate infrastructure for its inhabitants. There are also no public policies in place to handle floods. According to some of the city’s inhabitants, they have asked the government for help have been told to move away. It does not look like the situation will be getting any better any time soon.
Moving forward, Lagos should reconsider the idea of building out Eko Atlantic City and focus the time and money for protecting the actual city of Lagos. Eko is supposed to be Nigeria’s first green city, but at what expense? The government has also tweeted multiple times their interest in tackling climate change but followed up with no real action. President Buhari has noted that he is willing to work with its allies, including the US, to help tackle this issue. However, no real progress has been made on this front. Nigeria must start taking climate change seriously, especially its floods, and work to improve the infrastructure in its cities to handle what is to come.
Current ability of the country to adapt to extreme weather conditions it faced in 2021:
Rating: * Completely Unprepared
Four Stars (****): Outstanding
Three stars (***): Good
Two stars (**): Fair
One star (*): Unprepared
Use this link to contact Nigeria’s Hydrology Agency, NIHSA