By Mohammed Kandi
Climate change and its devastating impact is no longer new to Nigerian communities as most part of the country was at one time or the other overwhelmed by the disaster via climate change.
Like other countries around the world, Nigeria has experienced adverse climate conditions with negative consequences on the lives of millions of people, the 2012 floods in Nigeria, being the most devastating in the series of flood disasters in the country’s history.
Climate change refers to an increase in average global temperatures due to natural events and human activities. This is caused primarily by increases in greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
An increase in average global temperatures had resulted in droughts, flooding, off season rains and dry spells. It has also caused lakes drying up and a reduction in river flow in the arid and semi-arid region. The result is fewer water supplies for use in agriculture, hydro power generation and other users. Similarly, scientific studies show snows are disappearing rapidly. Climate Change has been confirmed following release of the 4th IPCC Assessment report, which stated that “Africa will be worst hit by the effects of Climate Change which Nigeria is part of it.”Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change. This situation is further worsened by its poor state of economic development and low adaptive capacity. As the impact of global change in climatic conditions continue to resonate in the form of rising temperatures and sea levels, leaving in its trail disasters in the form of floods, desertification and other environmental degradation, Nigerians are becoming more aware of the realities but in most cases lack the capacity to stem the tragedies. They certainly need government assistance as is the case in ‘developed societies’.
No continent is absolutely free of calamities resulting from the climate change but the level of planning, preparedness, mitigating strategies varies with nations depending on their determination and commitment to addressing the issues.
Europe continues to battle a deep freeze that has killed hundreds of people, with transport and navigation services badly hit across the continent cutting off tens of thousands of people. The 2, 860km-river, which flows through nine countries and is vital for transport, power, irrigation, industry and fishing, was wholly or partially blocked from Austria to its mouth on the Black sea. Also, Britain experiences constant heavy snow, up to eight centimetres, while flooding in Greece has left dozens of homes under water. Meanwhile, Italy braced for continuous wave of freezing weather which resulted in several deaths.
Furthermore, scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gasses produced by human activities. In view of this forecast, there is need for countries to step-up measures for mitigation, preparedness and response to impacts of climate change.
In line with the global best practices in combating the scourge of climate change, Nigeria’s reputable disaster manager, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has once again summoned relevant agencies to a dialogue which aimed at curtailing its impact in the country. The Director-General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani Sidi said: “As part of our collective responsibilities as servants of the people, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) need to always come together with the view to re-strategising plan of action towards safeguarding and protecting our citizens.”
The Director-General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani Sidi, was passionate about addressing the incidents of disasters that are associated with the climate change. He lauded his agency’s collaboration with the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) on the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) and a flood outlook.
While speaking at a forum tagged: “A National Consultative Workshop on Climate Risk, Mitigation, Preparedness and Response in 2014”, Sani Sidi admitted that the documents had assisted NEMA in understanding the early warning mechanism saying “The document provides information on disaster management implication on agriculture, water resources, infrastructure and health with actionable recommendations to anticipated effects.”
“This workshop which convened experts to contribute meaningful ideas on ways of addressing climate related disasters in the country is expected to assist in reducing our people’s vulnerability and enhance their resilience.”
The Director-General of NIMET, represented by the Director, Weather Forecasting Services, Mr. Ifeanyi Nnodu, applauded NEMA for organising the event saying “this event will provide more information that would help members of the public to better understand likely disasters.”
In his remarks, the Director-General of NIHSA represented by Mr. Backley Moses, called for a more pragmatic approach by disaster managers towards unprecedented climatic conditions across the country.
According to him, “climate change and variability poses huge challenge to humans and these documents are there to help mitigate hydrological hazards in the country.”
The forum was intended to further create awareness about the climate change and its devastating impacts on the people and the environment—to assist them in understanding the signs of potential disaster, as well as desist from acts that are capable of further depleting the atmospheric fabrics in the country.