Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is Lagos prepared for the coming deluge?

Allwell Okpi in …Though flooding is not new in Lagos, the experience this year is about the worst in the history of the state. It has been blamed on relatively high amount of rainfall this year, the opening of Oyan Dam and more significantly, the rising level of the Atlantic Ocean. According to a study carried out in 2008 by some scientists, some parts of Lagos, especially the parts closer to the ocean will be under water in the next 50 years, considering the rate at which the Atlantic Ocean is rising.

While speaking at the launch of a Nigerian documentary on climate change, Stefan Cramer, Nigeria director for Germany's Heinrich Boll Foundation think-tank and an adviser to the Nigerian government on climate change, reportedly said the most scientists predict sea levels would rise by one meter over the next 50 years or so. Considering that most parts of the state are less than two metres below sea level this poses danger for the megacity. "In 50 years with a one-meter sea level rise, two million or three million people would be homeless. By the end of the century we would have two meters and by that stage Lagos is gone as we know it," Mr Cramer told Reuters.

… All the circumstances surrounding the flooding in Lagos point to the gradual rise on the Atlantic Ocean. The management of Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority, the operators of the Oyan Dam on Thursday said the flood was caused by sea level rise and not the release of water from the dam. Rasak Jimoh, Managing director of the agency said the affected area is a flood plain which is directly under the influence of back flow from the Lagos Lagoon, so as the Atlantic Ocean is rising, it is causing the Lagos Lagoon to overflow on its flood plain.

….According to Stephen Olaleye, a hydrogeologist, the problem is that these affected communities were built on floodplains against general environment regulations. "Generally, it is not proper to build residences on plains. It's a natural thing. Flood plains are regularly flooded when there is increase in the volume of water in ocean or river or in this case the Lagoon. But another problem is that buildings in such areas are at risk of collapse because the likelihood is that their foundation will be below the water table and that is danger in a long run," he said….

A market in Lagos, shot by Zouzou Wizman, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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