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"Official Negligence": Floods in Nigeria Threaten Millions, Quarter of Country's GDP

For Omomowo Olamibode, all hell broke loose on July 8, 2022.

After three days of rain in Lagos, Nigeria, the second-largest city in Africa, floods invaded streets in the suburb of Sabo, Yaba. Water poured into homes, wreaking havoc everywhere. After trying and failing to retrieve certain possessions, the 34-year-old businessman and his family were stranded since there was too much water and had to resort to saving themselves.

“My family's home was first impacted; the water level was up to the window level, and we had to pack everything inside the house, some of which we forgot. Since I was too busy running around… I completely forgot that I had a shop to take care of, which caused many things in the shop to spoil.”

“The incident was traumatic, as a storm tore off our roof. After a month, we were finally able to cover the roof again, but not before it had completely wrecked everything.”

Thousands of homes within Sabo, Yaba have always been affected by flooding in the past decade as property and life losses continue to mount, according to Olamibode and other witnesses. According to the Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the recent flooding killed seven people. Aside from those killed, other residents lamented losing property worth millions of naira to the disaster, while some were displaced. This is said to be attributed to urban flooding caused by intense or prolonged rainfall, combined with an appetite for developments or construction projects which Lagos has of late been characterized with.

Lagos is a coastal city bound to experience coastal flooding both by a higher-than-expected rise in sea levels induced by climate change in the long run, and short-term storm surges from the sea overflowing into the land. The metropolis of 15.4 million residents was first built on Lagos Island and spread onto the Mainland as its population exploded. It is grappling with an eroding coastline that makes the city vulnerable to flooding. Making matters worse, the unchecked destruction of wetlands and weak flood control infrastructure are making the state more vulnerable to intense rainfall and water overflow.

Early Warning by Lagos Government Not Enough to Mitigate Flooding

The Lagos government earlier warned that the state will experience about 250 to 300 days of rainfall across its 20 local governments in 2022, amounting to a 2,700 mm (106-inch) rain pattern of high intensity and frequency similar to what was experienced in 2021.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET), at the beginning of every year, usually forecasts the expected rainfall and temperature patterns spanning the entire country while the results were published as the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP).

The government emphasized that the construction of the Lagos State network of weather stations has commenced and will soon reach the completion stage, noting that the stations would assist in monitoring the weather in the state and increase the preparedness for weather-related issues.