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Lagdo Dam: NEMA Set For Immediate Evacuation Of Nigerians From Various Communities To Safer Destinations

As part of the efforts by all stakeholders to prepare for and mitigate possible flood disasters this year, the National Emergency Management Agency has called for the immediate evacuation of Nigerians from various communities to safer destinations.

The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Engr. Mustapha Habib Ahmed made the call during his opening remarks at the National Emergency Coordination Forum meeting held on 30 August 2023 at BON Hotel Elvis, Abuja.

He said that the modulated release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon on the Benue River at the rate of 200 cubic meters per second which is about 18 million cubic meters of water per day, may result in all front-line states experiencing flooding in subsequent days and weeks, it is of great importance to also note that the Dam might commence full discharge of excess water from the Dam in the event that the region experiences heavy amount of rainfall.

He further said that for effective coordination and implementation of various policies therefore, that is the reason for inviting critical stakeholders to the Forum so as to deliberate on how to respond and mitigate the impending flood the country is currently being faced with.

The DG called for nationwide sensitization especially in states and communities which may likely be affected by the impending flood, de-escalation of the Early Warning messages to States; TV and radio appearances; TV and radio jingles and issuing press releases, clearing of drainages, readiness to embark on a rescue mission, among others.

“While it is imperative for everyone to remain calm, NEMA will continue to work with other government partners to provide succour including food and non-food items to affected people in the IDP camps and the host communities while building their resilience through livelihood supports, especially with the distribution of agricultural inputs and other livelihood items, Engr. Mustapha Habib Ahmed said.

In his welcome address, the Director, Planning Research and Forecasting, Dr Onimode Abdullahi Bandele, said that the meeting is convened to update and discuss with stakeholders from various sectors, issues surrounding the release of water from the Lagdo dam as well as the present flood situation in the country.

“As vital stakeholders in Disaster Management, you will all agree with me that this meeting is timely in order to prepare, mitigate and respond to humanitarian issues that the released water may cause along the River Benue basin, Dr Onimode Bandele, said.

He solicited the stakeholder’s meaningful contribution in order to chart the way forward to address possible challenges.

UPDATE ON WATER RELEASES FROM THE CAMEROONIAN LAGDO DAM AND PRESENT SITUATION OF FLOODING IN THE COUNTRY BY ENGR. CLEMENT NZE, FVSE, DIRECTOR GENERAL/CEO, NIGERIA HYDROLOGICAL SERVICES AGENCY AT THE EMERGENCY COORDINATION FORUM MEETING CONVENED BY NATIONAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (NEMA) ON WEDNESDAY, 30TH AUGUST, 2023.

The Lagdo dam is located on the Benue River In the Niger Basin. The Cameroonian authorities commenced release of water from Lagdo Dam by 10.10am on 14% of August 2023. This was communicated to the Director General of Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) on 23rd August, 2023 by the Cameroonian Hydrologist in-charge of the Dam. The release of water from the Dam commenced at the rate of 200 cubic metres per second (200m?/s) which is about 18 million cubic metres of water per day (18Mm3/day). According to the official, this exercise will continue for the next 7 days seeing that the reservoir level currently stands at 213.46m and the maximum permissible level of the reservoir is 214.02m. The said official also added: “We will continue to observe the situation. If there Is no major inflow, we will close the spillway in the coming days. The situation is under control”. By 25th August 2023, the water releases from the reservoir has reduced to 50m/s. However, by 5.16pm on the 28th August, 2023, the Hydrolog st in-charge of the Dam notified the Director General of NIHSA that they stopped spill ng water by 11.00am that same yesterday.

2.0 Flow situation on the River Niger and Benue system

As at today, 30th August, 2023:

1). The water level at our monitoring station in Makurdi, Benue State was 8.99m as against 9.75m that was recorded on the same date in 2022. This indicated a reduction in the observed flow of last week and normal flow In the flow of the River Benue system.

ii). The flow level on the River Niger system Is considerably stable as well. The level of River Niger at Niamey (Niger Republic), upstream Nigeria, is normal with a flow level of 4.35m. Situation reports from the inland dams (Kainji and Jebba) on River Niger and Shiroro on River Kaduna Indicated @ normal flow regme The present reservoir level at Kainji dam is 134. 64m (maximum reservoir level is 141 83m). This shows that there Is room to impound waters into the reservoir from the upstream as the inflow increases on the River Niger system.

iii). The flow level at our monitoring station downstream of the Confluence of the two transboundary rivers (Niger and Benue) in Lokoja, Kogi State, was 8.66m as against 8.36m that was recorded on the same date in 2022. Though still within the normal range, the increase in flow level is due to the internal runoff that was generated from the inland rivers due to their increased fiow levels occasioned by their catchment rainfall patterns.

3.0 Notations:

Nigeria is downstream of the 9-member countries of the Niger River Basin, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria, the situation calls for more watchfulness on the part of Nigeria. The months of July, August, September, and October of every year signify periods of heavy rainfall, flooding, and flood disasters in most parts of the country. The floods are often aggravated by the transboundary inflows of rivers Niger and Benue from outside the country. However, it is important to note that:

i). Dam water releases are a significant part of reservoir operations to protect the integrity of the dam and dams failure and to, even, reduce/regulate flooding of the adjacent communities. Therefore, water releases from the Lagdo dam are normal reservoir operations and the quantum of water that was released is negligible to cause any flooding in Nigeria.

ii). The existing MoU between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the Republic of Cameroon does not explicitly provide for communication of timing (or lag time) for seasonal releases of water from Lagdo dam. So far, information that the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency has been receiving was based on professional interpersonal and organizational relationships as the National Hydrological Services of both countries under the umbrella of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

iii). It is highly imperative to deploy a high level of preparedness on the part of Federal and State governments (particularly, the Niger Delta reg including Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kebbi, Niger, Edo, De ta, Anambra, Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Cross-Rivers, Rivers), citizens including all agencies and stakeholders that are charged with disaster response and reduction to step up action and put in place measures to mitigate and avert any eventual flood disaster.

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