As memories of the devastating flooding that ravaged towns in Lagos Island, Niger, Akwa Ibom states and other parts of the country in July 2017 are yet to leave the victims, governments at all levels have been tasked on the need to engage the expertise of licensed land surveyors for sustainable flood risk management in the country
Surveyors’ engagement in flood control and management, built environment experts said, should be done in collaboration with other professionals such as engineers, town planners, sociologists, economists, environmentalists, hydrologists, flood managers, geologists and lawyers among others.
It was noted that surveyors, who are the custodians of geospatial data, were always pushed to the background when providing solutions during flood control and management.
The new push, according to water experts, has become imperative due to many lives and properties that were lost to this year’s deluge coupled with the 2012 flood in Nigeria.
Both the Chairman, Lagos House Committee on Land Matters, Mr. Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo and Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Ornament Engineering Limited, Mr Sunday Egbiki, advised that land surveyors should be given priority in flood risk management, noting that they served as the bedrock upon which other professionals work.
Egbiki, who was the Guest Speaker during the Annual General Meeting and Luncheon of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS), Lagos branch, said that professionals should be equipped with the right tools and soft-applications to enable them produce the necessary data and base maps on flood risk maps, flood zone and flood evacuation needed for sustainable flood risk management.
He also called on government and professionals to wake up and put a preventive and strategic planning in place to mitigate the effects of flooding in Nigeria.
“Two heads they say are better than one. Nigerian professionals should put their heads together without working in isolation to fight a common goal, the menace of flood in Nigeria,” he said.
He pointed out that the structural measures the nation had been adopting could not solve the problem of flooding, adding that neither the non-structural measures alone could help.
He called for the adoption of an integrated approach that factors in the combination of both measures coupled with multi-disciplinary approach to reduce the effect to the barest minimum.
Causes of flooding
The stakeholders noted that flooding was not only becoming more frequent in Nigeria especially in the cities, but has also become more severe and devastating over the decades.
Egbiki said the increased frequency and severity of flooding could not be attributed to only increase in rainfalls as people popularly believed.
Rather, he said it was in response to climate change, sea level rise, people’s lack-lustre attitudes, increasing rate of urbanisation along the floodplains, population growth, inadequate maintenance of flood control infrastructures, absence of well-articulated and comprehensive physical planning and control within the floodplains and the watershed, and absence of legal law enforcement.
The guest speaker pointed out that flood hazards produce the most severe impacts on the economy and people’s safety and “that is what people know without remembering the benefits of floodplains.”
He stated that the degree of vulnerability to such natural disasters had been highest in developing countries like Nigeria, where the poor suffer the most as sheer necessity forced them to occupy the most vulnerable areas.
He said there was a clear evidence that economic losses caused by flooding were increasing at the global level, adding that Nigeria was not exempted.
For the record
It would be recalled that in 2001, rain caused flooding in Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom states, while 5000 people were affected. The same year, 12,300 people were displaced in Zamfara State by flood. In 2005, 2008 and 2012 flood disasters, Taraba, Imo, Edo, Benue and Plateau states were badly affected, displacing 65, 250 people, while 570 houses were submerged, leaving 43 people dead.
To reduce flooding in cities, the water engineer expert called for a paradigm shift from flood control to integrated flood management.
He described this measure as a process of promoting an integrated approach to flood management aimed at maximising the net benefits of flood plains and minimising the loss of life from flooding in a river basin within the framework of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
Aside from land surveyors , who he said were the first professionals in the concept of IFM, Egbiki called on government at all levels to ensure proper and effective use of ecological fund, adding that they should encourage the integration of environmental flood insurance schemes to protect people’s lives and properties when disasters strike.
He said: “National disaster and emergency policies should be strengthened to facilitate effective disaster preparedness and response. This approach will not only save lives and livelihoods, but it will equally reduce vulnerability to flood menace.
“Adequate and long-term environmental and natural resource management practices can help to reduce the risk and vulnerability of people in disaster prone areas. There should be collaborations among ocal communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), voluntary groups, local and international donor. Also, organizations towards managing floods should be established.”
Within the realm of professional practice, Egbiki urged that good land use planning and water resources management professionals should undergo training and retraining programmes in related fields to avoid corrupt planning practices that could jeopardize lives and properties of the people.
Dangerous political interventions in land use planning and water resources management should grossly be avoided in order to protect the occurrence of avoidable flooding menace.
Published on December 17, 2017 by TheNewTelegraphOnline.com