How flooding impact learning among Nigerian children By JOHN ONAH

A flooded school compound

In this article, JOHN ONAH takes a look at how Nigeria Government has failed to put a halt to flood, the yearly occurrences that impact negatively on Nigerian’s children.

Nigeria has experienced flooding in recent years which has negatively impacted families and disrupting Children’s learning.

While many parents returned to flood prone areas because they have no where to go after the crisis, being that those places are their ancestral homes with children mostly affected.

Rather than own up to maybe a failure from the Nigeria Government’s own end, Suleiman Adamu, Nigeria’s minister of water resources, in a bid to defend his ministry’s 2023 budget before the Senate committee on water resources in Abuja, has said that rainfall is responsible for the flooding ravaging various communities across 30 states in Nigeria, not excess water from Cameroon.

Adamawa, a northeastern state hit by recent floods, has within it a dam that has been in construction for 40 years. A dam is a barrier constructed to hold back water and raise its level, forming a reservoir used to generate electricity or as a water supply.

Some years ago, Cameroon and Nigeria touched on the chances of possible flooding as a result of water overflow from the Cameroonian dam (Lagdo Dam). To cushion the effect of possible flooding, the Nigerian government agreed to build its own dam (the Dasin Hausa Dam) in Adamawa to contain excess water from Cameroon, thereby preventing flooding.

Hence, the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, which often contributes to flooding in Nigeria, was supposed to be contained by the Dasin Hausa Dam in Adamawa.

Aside from that, it was supposed to be two and a half the size of the Lagdo dam; the dam project sited at the Dasin Village of Fufore Local Government Area of Adamawa State was supposed to generate 300 megawatts of electricity and irrigate about 150,000 hectares of land in Adamawa, Taraba, and Benue states. It was supposed to be a shock absorber to prevent shocks like the one experienced in 2012, and the one being experienced in 2022.

At the time, the Cameroonian government built its Lagdo Dam in five years (between 1977 and 1982). It has been 40 years since 1982, and the Dasin Hausa Dam is yet to be finished.

“I consider it irresponsible that a government is okay with another government informing them to prepare for the consequences of activities in their own country, instead of building and completing a dam that they started since 1981,” said Evaristus Nicolas, an environmentalist in Egbema, Imo State.

On September 13, 2022, Eneo Cameroon (the Cameroonian electricity company) released a statement to inform residents of Garoua (a port city and the capital of the North Region of Cameroon, lying on the Benue River) and its environs that the dam will release between September and October 2022, urging them to steer clear of hazardous and flood-prone zones within the period. Had the government of Nigeria done likewise, the flood impacts could have been buffered.

The Nigerian 2022 flood experience, currently the worst on record, according to news reports, directly competes with that of 2012, one that took a deadly toll.

In 2012, for instance, the nation recorded its scariest flood experience where 2 million Nigerians were displaced, and 363 individuals died. The event cost the country an estimated $16.9 billion in total losses.

Both floods have been somehow attributed to the release of excess water from the Lagdo dam in Northern Cameroon as released water from it cascades down into Nigeria through River Benue and its tributaries, overwhelming communities that are already vulnerable due to heavy rainfall.

“Completing the Dasin Hausa Dam in the 80s would have prevented floods, increased power generation capacity, and aided irrigation. But the characteristic corruption-fuelled negligence wouldn’t allow it,” Oluseun Ade, a researcher, said.

Igazeuma Okoroba, a pan-African sustainability strategy leader, said: “Where are the farms, jobs created, infrastructure, and investments from which to eradicate poverty? They are submerged in floods.

“N1 billion ($2.3 million) has been pledged by a state governor for flood relief. I wonder if this will recover school days lost, remove the trauma and risk of cholera, restore businesses and other impacts the floods have dealt on families in the IDP camps. I wonder also if this will be a lesson for preparedness ahead of the next one”.

Analysts are of the opinion that the government should develop the political will to invest appropriately in areas that help prevent negative impact on Nigerian Children.

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