As many as 100 people have died in flooding in Nigeria over the past two weeks, according to disaster management authorities. Thousands are thought to have been displaced, particularly in communities along the country’s major rivers.
Over the past few weeks many areas have experience localized flash flooding due to storms bringing high intensity rainfall, including in Jigawa, Niger, Kano and Nasarawa states.
However, wide areas of the country now face flooding from the country’s major rivers after long-term rainfall in Nigeria and river catchments in neighbouring countries caused the Niger and Benue rivers to rise to danger levels. Earlier this week Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) declared a state of emergency for flooding in the four states of Niger, Kogi, Anambra and Delta.
Other affected States have been placed under close watch, including the states of Kebbi, Kwara, Edo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa.
NEMA has set up 5 Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) to facilitate prompt search and rescue operations as well as humanitarian supports in the states worst affected by flooding. According to NEMA, the Emergency Response Centres will be responsible for planning, organizing, directing and supervising deployment of resources with the affected state governments and local authorities and communities. “The primary objective is to localize the responses and expedite intervention to save lives and facilitate quick recovery,” NEMA Director General Mustapha Maihaja said.
In late August Nigeria’s Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) warned communities in Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Anambra, Delta and Bayelsa states that increasingly high river levels could cause major flooding. Major dams had already begun releasing water as high flow from the upper catchment of the Niger basin moved downstream to Nigeria.
As of 30 August, the Niger river at Lokoja stood at 8.84 metres, above the 8 metre warning level and rising towards 10 metre red alert. Lokoja is the capital of Kogi State and lies at the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers and downstream of the Kainji and Jebba dams.
As of 07 September the Niger river at Lokoja stood at 10.01 metres and by 18 September had reached 11.06 metres. NIHSA says that rivers are at similar levels to those seen in the lead up to the devastating floods of 2012. On 29 September 2012 the Niger river at Lokoja reached a record high of 12.84 metres.
The River Benue is also rising, though it is not yet at levels similar to those of 2012. NIHSA says that water releases from the Shiroro, Kainji and Jebba Dams is contributing to the rise in river levels. The Lagdo Dam in Cameroon however is not releasing water, according to NIHSA.
According to forecasts from NiMet, further heavy rain can be expected over the next 3 weeks, particularly in northern areas of the country.
NIHSA said that flash flooding is also likely to continue in some areas and communities should prepare.
“Localized urban flooding incidents being witnessed in some cities and communities in the country are expected to continue due to high rainfall intensity of shorter duration, rainstorms, blockage of drainage system and poor urban planning, as well as coastal flooding resulting from sea rise and storm surges. States and Local Governments should endeavour to remove structures built within the floodplains, clear blocked drainages, culverts and other waterways,” NIHSA added.