BY: Yua Miriam
Dooshima… I heard that all your properties were swept away by flood in your compound is it true?? She sighs, drops her arms in resignation and replies. ‘Chinedu my dear, I thank God for my life oo, what you heard is true, the rain that fell in Makurdi of late destroyed most of my properties not excluding my credentials ‘oh my God! Not again my dear friend. Her friend exclaims in surprise.The above scenario sums up the yearly agony of the residents of Makurdi, the capital city of Benue owing to flooding every rainy season.
Benue State is located in the North Central geopolitical zone of Nigeria, it is known as the food basket of the nation occupying a land mass of 32,518sqkm, it lies within the Lower Benue River Basin in the middle belt region of Nigeria. It has a tropical sub humid climate, with two distinct seasons which are wet season and dry season, the wet season last for Seven months between April to October, while the dry season last from November to March. The seven months of rain is usually the most devastating and destructive season to the inhabitants of Benue State as most parts of the local government areas especially Makurdi are habitually flooded as a result of torrential down pour.
Benue State which heavily relies on its agricultural sector suffers flooding every year, caused by several reasons including heavy and intense rainfall leading to the river spilling over its banks, poor and inadequate drainage channels which could have helped the situation, poor maintenance of the few drainage that are available which are often filled with refuse and rubbish, disruption of the original City plan, weak political will on the part of Government to mitigate the situation, poor level of public awareness campaign on flood hazards, sometimes absence of vegetal cover in the environment also causes flood and many more.
In view of the fact that majority of the people classify flooding in the area as severe; the environmental effects are also severe. The environmental effects include destruction of houses and displacement of people in the affected areas often running into billions, disruption of livelihood of the people in the flood prone areas, obstruction of movement and flow of people and goods, as well as pollution of domestic water supply causing health problems to the people in the area and in some cases, loss of human life. Flooding also alters aquatic life and causes the death of many aquatic animals. Flooding has also often times carries away crops and destroys the months and weeks of human labor of hardworking farmers in a couple of hours.
In light of all the above, citizens and government bodies must take responsibility for the environment, by putting in place a proper waste disposal, building plan and construction of houses and other structures to reduce the effect of flooding and altogether prevent flooding where possible. Policies should also be put in place to regulate where individuals, organizations and government bodies put up their structures to avoid drainage path blockages. These policies should also provide punishment for those who turn drainages into waste dumps as deterrents to other members of the society.
In conclusion, reducing and ultimately preventing flooding is the responsibility of every member of the society. When citizens take care of the environment, by maintaining proper hygiene amongst other activities, flooding will be reduced.
As the thunder in the sky claps for another round of rain, Dooshima and Chinedu look at each other in utter surprise. ‘Rain!’ they both exclaim at the same time. They scamper in different directions each running to their house to salvage their properties or what has remained of it.