Local and foreign stakeholders, Wednesday, met in Abuja to map out an integrated approach to managing floods in major towns and cities in the country.
The one-day workshop on the Blue-Green Initiative for Urban Flood Resilience in Nigeria programme was organised by the University of Nottingham in collaboration with the Agriculture Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN).
Speaking at the event, the ARCN Executive-Secretary, Prof. Garba Sharubutu, said the federal government would collaborate with credible organisations to solve the problems like flooding.
“The evidence of climate change is all around us. Three people died in Trademore Estate Lugbe, along Airport Road, here in Abuja due to the flood incident last week, precisely Sunday night on September 12/13.
“It is long overdue that we expedite solutions that are sustainable and make our cities and towns resilient to these kinds of costly environmental problems. Here we have the research consortium at the University of Nottingham in collaboration with other organisations developed a new initiative: the Blue-Green Cities Initiative which we can leverage on to sustainability manage our environment.
“I would like to say that our expectation from this workshop is to create partnerships and collaborations among stakeholders, establishing strong networks and possibly creating thematic teams that will explore possibilities of developing and adopting MoUs to guide collaborative projects development and execution,” he stated.
Blue-Green City concept is aimed at creating a naturally-oriented water cycle while contributing to the amenity of the city by bringing water management and green (trees and other greenery) infrastructure together.
Blue-Green Cities generate a multitude of environmental, ecological, socio-cultural and economic benefits.
Professor of Geography and Environment Management at the University of Abuja, Ibrahim Yari Mallo, in his paper titled: Incidences and Causes of Flood in Abuja, listed causes of flooding in the nation’s capital and some other cities across the country to include Nigeria’s vast endowment of streams, the poorly informed choice of building settlements near rivers and flood plains.
He also identified the building of slums, indiscriminate dumping of refuse, abuse of plans by desperate builders and overall poor management of water infrastructure, indiscriminate dumping of linear low density polythene, hard density polyethylene and lack of greenbelts to allow water infiltrate naturally into the ground as major causes of flooding.
He said: “The major factor in the generation of runoff or overland flow is the occurrence of rainfall. However, where runoff is professionally controlled through well built underground drains or well constructed wide and deep surface drains flood will not take place.
“So poor planning and not necessary the amount of rainfall received is one of the causes of flood occurrences in Nigerian cities.
“Nigeria is a country that is dissected by many rivers, streams and rivulet. The economic allurements of streams and rivers for fishing, irrigation, domestic water supply, recreation exercises like boating and so on attracts Nigerians to encroach and settle near streams or rivers.
“People settle on the flood plains which are vulnerable to flood forgetting that such areas are liable to inundation. In many of such settlements flooding may not take place for many years but in very wet years, people’s houses get flood loading to severe damages to lives and property.”
He said, “Currently, weather patterns have changed featuring heavy downpours of rain unprecedented in the past. Coastal areas are getting more flooded primarily due to rising sea levels.”
On his part, Professor Colin Throne from the University of Nottingham, UK, called on the federal government to be deliberate and prompt in its efforts as the country appears blink.
Thorne, who spoke virtually, encouraged government to enhance planning policy, sustain urban growth and development, improve public health and well-being, and widen stakeholder engagement in cities.