In a shocking turn of events, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has announced that Nigerians should not blame the cause of the 2022 floods on the Lagdo Dam alone. The agency said that most of the water that caused the flooding that ravaged many parts of the country was not from the Cameroonian dam. During a Twitter space titled “Flooding: Analyzing Nigerian Government Preparedness,” a NEMA spokesman, Mr. Manzo Ezekiel, disclosed that water release from that incident only contributed to floodings in some parts of Nigeria where the water from the river passed.
Ezekiel further revealed that there was serious flooding in places where the Lagdo water did not flow through. Consequently, the flood did not happen only along the River Benue belt. The major blame was put on the heavy rainfall during the year. “We have a flood that happened somewhere in Jigawa,” he said. In the past, the Lagdo Dam authority has been releasing excess water yearly and it is in Nigeria’s interest to do that, else the effects will be much worse and devastating.
The flooding was a tale of two dams between two border countries.
Lagdo Reservoir is a reservoir located in the Northern Province of Cameroon, Nigeria’s neighboring border country to the East. It is located on the Benue River in the Niger basin. The lake on which the dam is built covers an area of 586 kilometre square. Built between 1977 and 1982 at 308m long, 40m high and 9m thick, the reservoir has a potential of 7.7 billion cubic meters, which has reduced over time to 1.6 billion cubic meters as of 2021. Undoubtedly, the river holds a large amount of water, which should create concerns for Nigeria and its citizens.
Experts have said repeatedly that the absence of structures to contain the water released from Lagdo is a major cause for flooding in the country. This issue has been ongoing for decades. It was agreed to, as far back as 1980 that the Federal Government of Nigeria would commit to building a dam along the course of the Benue River. Obviously, this is to contain the gushing of water released upstream from Lagdo Dam. Since then, nothing have been built.
Dasin Hausa Dam could have cushioned the effects of released water.
Records indicate that Cameroon and Nigeria were supposed to build two Dams during the time of agreement. The Nigerian dam was supposed to be known as Dasin Hausa Dam. It was to be built in Adamawa State to contain the released water. It was also supposed to be two and a half times the size of the Lagdo Dam and is meant to supply electricity to the Northern region as well as aid in farmland irrigation.
It was estimated that it could have generated about 300 megawatts of electricity in addition to preventing flooding in key states that border the Cameroonian dam. However, since there are none built along the axis, the water freely moves to communities, eroding farmlands and roads and even submerging tall buildings. In 2022, the flooding affected about three million people. The government of Cameroon has strict protocols in notifying Nigeria’s government whenever the water in the reservoir rises and before releasing the water. Reports show that the Lagdo embankment may have burst if the water had not been released. If this ever happens, lives would be lost in their hundreds of thousands, a much worse effect compared to 2022 floodings.
NEMA working to mitigate risks based on this year’s predictions.
The spokesperson of NEMA has also revealed that the agency is working to prevent another case of floodings like the occurrence in 2022. This step is based on the predictions of the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA). Both agencies have predicted that there would be above average rainfall in some states. Ezekiel said that the amount of rainfall in coastal areas around Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Cross River will be as high as 2,700mm or above. For clarity, this is the total amount of rainfall that some parts of the country record in a three-year period.