Nigeria’s record floods are poisoning rural communities and exacerbating urban sprawl

As floods continue to ravage Nigeria, information shared at a meeting earlier this week showed that only 33 of the country’s 260 local governments have asked for urgent assistance from the Federal Government, with little help coming from the federal government for years, The Guardian reports. At the meeting in the capital city of Abuja, which was convened to discuss Nigeria’s five-year development plan, speakers repeatedly stressed the two-way disaster, which begins on urban developments and leads to flooding in river basins that then threaten the agricultural regions of remote villages.

“Nigeria needs to treat this problem as one from which we can break the grip of poverty,” said former Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose presentation said that the country needs to undertake an “urgent macroeconomic policy intervention” to ensure that conflict over water diversion and transportation rights diminishes.

Nigeria’s territorial displacement has already begun in earnest in states like Kogi, with settlers flooding surrounding communities and displacing residents and reversing decades of natural erosion. Specifically, the destruction of Lagos, a large city in West Africa’s largest economy, is known to be causing these movements. Erosion in southern states like Ondo, Rivers, and Edo has been deemed “severe,” while further west, in present-day Abia and Enugu states, he said, “natural erosion is severe and irreversible.”

“What really worries me are the growing threats from chronic urbanization and population expansion,” said Nigeria’s coordinator of the National Disaster Management Agency (NEMA), Adesina Oke. According to Fanny Salako, a community leader in rural Igbobi, the situation has been aggravated by flooding during last year’s rainy season, leading to urban neighborhoods being flooded several times per week.

While most regions have been affected, Kaduna has been particularly vulnerable to sustained flooding, and signs of the damage have begun to show in recent weeks. Next week, locals at the village of Ajrsaki, in Kaduna state, will sit down to figure out how to repair a centuries-old guesthouse destroyed during the January flood. The director of the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency said that 180 houses had also been affected, and 97,000 families could be at risk of losing their homes to water.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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