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Incompetence In Govt’s Flood Mitigation Warning Is Pushing Niger Delta Farmers Into A Starvation Prospect In 2024



The Oasis Reporters


December 2, 2023

 

 

Hurriedly harvested cassava crops on the backdrop of the government’s warning. Notice the very poor yield.

 

Cassava at full maturity. Incessant flooding is preventing this experience.




In late August, the relevant ministry of foreign affairs of the Federal government warned Nigerians about a likely Cameroon dam opening and urged citizens to evacuate so as to prevent deaths.






A news report on August 28, 2023 (Punch) said “Lagdo Dam, located 50 kilometers south of the city of Garoua on the Benue River, often releases huge volumes of water when overflowing..”



And the Federal government warned 8 States on flooding as Cameroon releases water from Lagdo dam (See List)



The skies are a mystery now.


Nigerians will not give up. For that would be perdition.


Most of the states took the warning very seriously because in 2022, flood waters came suddenly without warning and covered all the farms leading to unprecedented losses and hunger was to be the lot of farmers.




But the beleaguered Niger Delta people are a resilient lot. By November of 2022, they had started planting cassava since giving up is not an option. Cassava takes almost 10 to 12 months to mature.


The stories of climate-endangered people are heartbreaking. The climate crisis is intensifying their struggle for livelihood.


We called some stakeholders to see if there are any cassava varieties that mature in less than ten months after planting, and with good yield.

Are such readily available and where can they be procured?

We are looking forward to precise results on our query.


There may be maturity at nine months for cassava with more research availability in the coming years.

.

Scarred from that harrowing experience of 2022, another warning of possible flooding came again in August 2023 thus:


“There is a possibility of some states in Nigeria experiencing flooding due to the release of water from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has warned.


The NEMA Director-General in 2022 into 2023, Mustapha Habib Ahmed who issued the warning during an emergency meeting with stakeholders said already, the agency has been alerted to rising water levels in some communities and states that may be affected by the rapid release of waters from Lagdo Dam in the Republic of Cameroon.



The listed states to be affected are Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta and Bayelsa, with Adamawa already affected.


He therefore charged affected states to immediately activate emergency response plans while further updates are being expected.


“Situation reports from Adamawa State confirms the upsurge of floodwaters along the flood plains of River Benue. The situation is expected to be replicated in downstream states of Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa Kogi, Anambra, Edo. Delta and Bayelsa as the River Benue joins River Niger and flows to the Atlantic Ocean through the Niger Delta,” he said.


Ahmed warned that the water from Lagdo dam has already resulted in the displacement of residents in some communities in Adamawa State while farmlands and other infrastructure may also be washed away by the waters.



He revealed that already, information available to the agency indicated that this year’s flood scenario had affected 159,157 persons, resulted in the loss of 28 persons and the displacement of 48,168 individuals across 13 states in the country.


As a result of the unfolding situation, I want to use this opportunity to alert authorities of state and local governments along rivers Niger and Benue basin areas to immediately activate their emergency response plans to avert potential damage and losses that will arise due to inundation of communities by flood waters.”

 

Some members of a community pose with local officials. The Ase River (Ndokwa East, Delta State) in the background.





“Furthermore, we are expecting to receive updates from the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) NIMET, NEMA Operations Office in Yola Adamawa state and from State Emergency Agencies of the frontline states to keep on updating you on the situation as it unfolds,” the NEMA boss stated”.



Farmers especially in downstream Niger Delta States did the predictable thing. They all rushed to their farms and furiously harvested their Cassava and Yam crops in the hope of beating the floods. Most of the crops needed a few extra months to reach maturity. The immature crops thus weighed less, shortening yield meaning famine is likely to stare at the people again.


This is December 2023. Yet the floods did not come like they did last year. It exposes the guesswork inherent in the  government warnings.



The way out is for the Nigerian government to build the counterpart dams that are large enough to contain the Lagdo dam flood releases to save Nigerian farmers.


With rising climate change difficulties, this option should be taken as top priority. Construction of the dam should be seen as an emergency.


Greg Abolo with agency reports.


Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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