This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news.
In the past week, many parts of Lagos State have been affected by the rainy season. On 8th September 2018, Ibeju Lekki residents lamented the loss of valuables worth millions to flood from the heavy rain downpour.
“We can neither go to the office nor stay at home comfortably now, as many of our valuables have already been destroyed by the flood. I never believed we could be sacked by flood because we live in a predominantly sandy environment, due to our proximity to the ocean” - Balogun, a resident of Ibeju Lekki
Kajole, Majek first gate, Lakowe, Eleko, Oribanwa and Awoyaya areas have all recently been submerged in water as a result of the lack of proper flood management.
How does the flooding occur?
Residents are convinced the constant flooding within that axis is because there are no working drainage channels, and for the most part, they are correct. The city’s drainage system is poorly planned, and in some places, non-existent as flooding has become an annual experience.
The state government has repeatedly blamed the flooding on the poor waste disposal habits of Lagosians. After all, most of the city’s streets are littered with waste which often end up with blocked and overflowing gutters. When the low-lying position of Lagos next to the Atlantic ocean is taken into consideration, it's clear to see how vulnerable it is to severe climate change floods.
Not just a Lagos problem
Continuous flooding during the rainy season is not just a Lagos problem. Earlier this year, heavy rainfall destroyed hundreds of property in Abeokuta, Ogun State, leaving 5 people dead. And in 2017 alone, floods hit virtually every state in the country with places like Benue recording up to 100,000 displaced persons.
Although the reasons for the flood and degree of seriousness differ, it remains a recurring issue in most parts of the country.
A Collective Responsibility
Between 2007 and 2015, Nigeria spent ₦431 billion on the Ecological Fund. The fund was created to solve serious ecological problems like erosion and flooding. However, at least 8 of the projects under the fund were wasteful, with ₦2.2 billion paid to contractors for incomplete jobs.
It is clear that Nigeria needs to take more effective measures to cope with flooding. Predictably, stakeholders have suggested proper drainage systems and urban planning - all of which requires the type of political will we don’t have yet. A good waste management system can also prevent drains from being blocked and consequently reduce the spate of flooding in the country.
But while we will inevitably blame the government, there is a role to play for citizens by becoming more responsible for their immediate environment.