By Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
Flooding though has human factors but it is a natural disaster that can happen anywhere in the world. America which has what could be described as standard environment policies has fallen victim with Hurricane Harvey as the latest said to be the worst in its history. Therefore the natural hazard cannot be wished away but its effect can be mitigated. It is known fact this extreme hydro-meterological event is exacerbated by climatic change.
Recently, The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) predicted that states in the North Central zone of the country may experience flood disaster and Kwara was listed. This prediction has come to pass in states like Benue, Kogi and Niger lately, claiming hundreds of lives and destroying properties. It is common knowledge that flooding usually occurs after heavy rainfall especially when it is in quick succession when the water table is high in the month of September. Therefore, in its preparation against backdrop of the flood prediction, the Kwara State government has begun campaign towards prevention of the environmental disaster. Part of activities for the awareness was a press conference held on Monday.
While speaking on efforts of the state government at making the state safe, the state Commissioner for Environment and Forestry, Otunba Taiwo Joseph disclosed that some residents of flood prone areas have turned deaf ears to pleas for them to relocate to safer havens. The identified areas are Tsaragi, Lafiagi, Shonga, Bacita, Patigi and Gbaradogi. Others are Fangan, Kpata all in Edu, Moro and Patigi Local Government areas
He alluded the situation to age-long cultural belief of the affected people. The reason though hilarious calls for concern. The residents of the area, according to him said their umbilical cords were buried in the communities hence they could not move out in spite of the danger lurking in a corner.
“Top government officials and I have visited the farmers in these areas several times, asking them to relocate because of the looming disaster. But they have bluntly refused to leave. They are claiming that their umbilical cords were buried in the place,” the commissioner said.
Surprisingly the affected people shunned alternatives like the resettlement camps in Pada and Patigi that have been provided for them, as they refused to leave their ancestral home even on temporary basis.
It beats one that in this age and time people are still wallowing in ignorance at the detriment of their existence. Why would people hold tenaciously to a belief even when death stares them in the face? It is only the living that can uphold culture and its practices, so why commit ‘suicide’? Of what use is the umbilical cord when they are dead and gone? More so, despite that these people are living in flood zone they are nor taking safety measures. And like the saying prevention is better than cure, they don’t have to wait till the worst happens and then cry over split milk.
Aside this, there are other ways that residents are indirectly committing suicide such as building houses on flood plains, water channels and along river banks, which block water ways and makes water to find alternative routes, which could lead to flooding and resultant loss of lives and destruction of property.
Another attitude of people which could lead to flood disaster and attendant consequence, is the indiscriminate dumping of refuse even in drainages thus blocking water ways during rainfall. There is no doubt that there is high population density in a place like the state capital leads to generation of more wastes. But the problem has always been improper disposal of refuse on part of residents.
However since the state government has again activated for advocacy campaign, people in the flood prone areas are advised not to defy the red alert. They must be vigilant and relocate to safer places to avoid disaster.
Wastes should be properly disposed and prevent the blockage of existing drainage channels. The citizenry need to change their attitudes which are culminating into environmental hazards. Sanitation rules must be observed. All hands must be on deck to make our environment a safe habitat.
The quantum economic loss from flood disaster is best imagine and as such, should be prevented at all costs.