According to Floodlist.com on July 24th, 2020, 7 people died in central Nigeria due to heavy rainfall and flooding. There has been a steady increase in the record of annual deaths due to flooding across the globe. Data from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction shows that flooding has affected 2 billion people worldwide between 1995 and 2015 (see figure below).
On July 19th, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced that heavy rainfall from last June created a riverine in Somalia that has led to widespread flash flooding. OCHA said that 105,000 people have been affected by floods since late June in Hirshabelle, South West, and Jubaland States and in the Banadir region more than 40 villages flooded.
The increase of flooding globally is attributed to climate change and deforestation. According to the United Nations, In 2000 33% of Africa’s land was forest covered. Today that number has decreased to 23%. This drop off is a major contributor to the increase in flash floods.
When it rains, trees act as a sponge by using their deep root systems to absorb a significant amount of the water that collects on the ground. When trees are cut down the water cannot be absorbed by the earth quickly enough. When this is the cas on a hill or a mountain side this can cause the water to move down and can create riverines close to villages.
This has been a global issue for a very long time. According to an article published by Cambridge University in 2009 by Colin Clark titled Deforestation and Floods Colin writes “The importance of forests in reducing floods has been well known for centuries; in 1334 Gianbattista Vico del Cilento suggested that flooding in northern Central Italy could be reduced by afforestation of the upland areas. This was never done, and so the floods continued”.
There are two main ways of preventing floods, each with positives and negatives. Planting vegetation is effective, but hard to mobilize globally and often difficult to do in certain geographies. Building terraces is another solution due to their effectiveness restricting water flow. However, they are labor intensive and expensive; on average it costs between $100 to $250 per acre just for the materials. These prevention methods are difficult to apply in many parts of the world, including Africa due to cost.
There are also safety measures for areas that experience flooding. A simple flood warning can mean life of death. Additionally, architecture can be lifted or built higher up to protect individuals occupying those spaces. These safety precautions mitigate the death toll.
Currently, it is just the beginning of the flood season in Nigeria, we encourage anyone to come up with creative solutions and to create a flooding project on ShareYourself.