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​FLOODS: Swelling population may make matters worse

Heavy rains, combined with poor drainage systems and blocked waterways, cause rainwater to flow through commercial and residential dwellings.
Town planning expert Aliyu Salisu Barau told the BBC that Nigerian authorities and ordinary citizens are ill-prepared for such disasters.
“Tackling persistent flooding requires long-term planning,” he said.
“In most cases the authorities do not make provision to clear drainage systems until it is already rainy season,” Mr Barau added.
Nigeria’s swelling population could make matters worse.
Its currently home to 180 million people, and a recent UN report estimates that Nigeria will become the third most populous nation in the world by 2050, overtaking the United States.
This could put pressure on land as the need for more housing rises. But it is the lack of proper town planning and the authorities’ inability to accommodate these changes which causes most alarm.
Some residents dump rubbish and waste in the streets, putting extra strain on the few existing urban drainage systems and preventing the steady flow of rainwater.
What about dams?
Nigeria’s many dams are also seen to be part of the problem.
Used for irrigation and fish-farming activities, some are located close to towns and villages. But observers say these useful water reservoirs are poorly maintained and during the rainy season they can sometimes burst, releasing torrents of water into nearby communities.
The Lagdo dam in neighbouring Cameroon, which is on the Benue river that runs through Nigeria, also poses a danger of heavy flooding in Nigeria when the Cameroonian authorities decide to release the dam’s excess water.
To add to the problem, the Nigerian authorities have very few arrangements for evacuating endangered communities – even in the face of imminent flood risks. And when warnings are issued they are rarely heeded by the least well off locals.
What should Nigeria do?
Analysts say something concrete must be done to prevent the high death tolls seen in recent years.
Destruction to property can be reduced by introducing effective town planning, respecting construction rules and regulations, and routing out corruption in the building certification process.
The number of fatalities and the impact on communities could be reduced if the authorities prepared themselves to forcibly evacuate those who are at imminent risk.
Raising public awareness and encouraging people to become more aware of their urban environment are also key.
Unless these practical measures are taken, experts say, floods will continue to destroy lives and property.

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