The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has warned Nigerians to take precautions against violent winds that may occur during the dry season, due to the effects of climate change.
The director-general of NIMET, Dr Anthony Anuforom, gave the warning in Abuja yesterday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). He said that windy weather was expected during the dry season, following more heavy rains likely to lead to more floods between September and October.
He cautioned people not to stay under trees during the period. Anuforom said: “We are transiting now from rainy to dry season; the kind of things we may experience are violent winds. Therefore, we advise people to avoid staying under trees.
“The reason why we alert people is for them to know ahead of time and take necessary precautions. We have no ability to protect against natural disasters but the ability to observe what the weather is and inform the people early. Part of the mandate of the Ministry of Aviation is safety and we as an agency under it have keyed into it.’’
He noted that forecasts by the agency, if strictly adhered to, could help save the situation, adding that any emergency situation could only surprise people unexpectedly if there were no early warnings. “If adequate disaster risk measures are taken, the number of deaths will decrease because people must have known what to expect,’’ Anuforom said.
The NIMET chief said that the 2013 annual seasonal rainfall predictions bulletin on weather and climate would be released early to get people prepared and make use of it. NIMET had, on September 26, predicted more heavy rainstorms that may lead to serious flooding before October.
As part of its mandate to prevent and mitigate disaster in Nigeria, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has produced a disaster response manual to “proactively prepare for the disaster that may arise from the possible collapse” of Lake Nyos Dam in western Cameroun.
The manual, which was endorsed yesterday at a signing ceremony by stakeholders in Abuja, is meant to enable people to put necessary measures in place to mitigate flood waters from the lake that is affecting the people of Benue State.
The director-general of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Alhaji Muhammed Sani-Sidi, said Lake Nyos is adjacent to Nigeria and that a 2005 UNDP report had predicted that the continuing erosion of the wall in Lake Nyos would put the dam at a point of potential collapse.
Sani-Sidi, who was represented by NEMA’s director of administration and supply, Dr. Zanna Muhammed, said the report predicted that the walls of the dam might fall as a result of gradual erosion from rain, wind and lake water, or as a result of violent volcanic eruption, earthquake or tremor.
The DG explained that there is a possibility that the dam will break down within 10 years, adding that the eventual failure of the dam would result in the discharge of about 55 million cubic metres of water that would result in flooding downstream.
He estimated that, between Cameroun border and River Benue, 50 settlements, including Katsina-Ala, Kashimbilla, Waya, Manga, Gamovo, Andie, Terwegh, and over 15,000 hectares of land will be flooded and that over one million people and 20,000 heads of cattle and other livestock will be affected and could perish.
Sani-Sidi said that financial losses had been estimated to be in billions of naira, comprising crops, residential and commercial structures, utilities and infrastructure including roads and bridges.
The DG said that, as part of NEMA’s mandate to prevent and mitigate disaster in Nigeria, the agency, in collaboration with Benue State Emergency Management Agency(BSEMA), held a two-day workshop on early warning and threat from Lake Nyos in order to create awareness, to share experience and draw appropriate contingency plan to identify those at risk, and prepare for response and evacuation sites.
He said the manual was developed by the agency and forwarded to the stakeholders for their input and it has culminated in the final manual which was being endorsed. “The manual is therefore apt, considering the various flood disasters affecting the country, and the content could be applied in different flood scenarios.”
He said there is need for various ministries, departments and agencies to develop their standard operating procedures in this regard. He added, “It is important also to note that the manual is a living document and is subject to periodic review as the situation arises.”
Stakeholders present at the ceremony include the army, police, civil defence corps, the Red Cross, representatives of the federal ministries of the environment, water resources, science and technology, agriculture and transport as well as the FRSC.