Multi-faceted approach to flood control in Lagos

Peter Adeyeye, Lagos Community Manager
Lagos, 16 December 2015

Flooding has become a perennial challenge in Lagos, leading to loss of lives and properties and negatively impacting the environment. The cause of the problem is multi-faceted. First, as a city situated along the coast, so many areas are below sea level; occasional rise in water level exposes these territories to floods. Also, the city experiences high and persistent rainfall throughout the year. This frequent rainfall becomes challenging when mixed with human activities that block free-flowing water passages through poor channelization of waterways and waste disposal over urban drains, This dangerous combination has led to the surge of incidences of floods in the city. Efforts at addressing this threat are two fold: first, appraising the state effort on urban planning and water channelization followed by exploring the collaborative roles of various stakeholders in the state in raising public consciousness on emergency preparedness and sound environmental management practices.

The Lagos state government under the Road Network Efficiency Improvement (RNEI) has been investing massively in the maintaining, upgrading, and rehabilitating of strategic road networks in the city. The project is being commissioned by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and awarded to various contractors. There are four types of road maintenance and interventions involved under the RNEI; routine, recurrent, periodic, and rehabilitation. Two of these maintenances are directly linked to flood control: the routine maintenance involves drainage clearing to reduce flooding and haulage of disposable materials, while the rehabilitation includes the reconstruction of drainage systems across the city. An example of a rehabilitation work done by the state government is the construction of drainage channels with a total length of 1,800 meters.

The Lagos State Ministry of Environment (MOE) is the government agency in charge of environmental concerns. Its vision is for "a flood-free, hygienic and beautiful Lagos." Its mandate includes “mitigation, formulation, execution and monitoring of all issues relating to climate change towards mitigating the negative impact of climate change” as well as preparation of a master plan for a drainage system in Lagos State. The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) advises the government on all environmental management policies and also carries out public enlightenment on sound methods of environmental sanitation and management. The Nigeria Metrological Agency (NiMet) produces a monthly Drought and Flood Monitoring Bulletin for each states in the country using standard indices. Their forecast serves as a guide for actors in Lagos in raising public consciousness about safety practices. The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) is the country’s agency responsible for enforcing all environmental laws and policies. The Agency has been responsible for developing environmental awareness programs across the country. In September, following the forecast by NiMet that Lagos may experience flooding, NESREA began a public sensitization on clearing of drains to prevent flooding in the city.

Though the Lagos government developed a flood control master plan under the broad "Lagos State Development Plan; 2012-2025," which aims to reduce incidence of flooding in Lagos from 40 per cent to 20 per cent by 2015 and eliminate all by 2025, as of now the plan only exist in paper. While residents of the city anticipate the implementation of the master plan, it is advisable that NGOs and other concerned stakeholders intensify their advocacy and public enlightenment on environmental sound practices to prevent future occurrence of floods.

Photo: Peter Adeyeye

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