In 2022, Nigeria witnessed a flood crisis many described as the country's worst natural disaster in a decade.
The flooding affected 27 out of 36 States in Nigeria, killed 603 people, displaced over 1.4 million, and injured more than 2,400 residents.
Of the 27 states, 13 along the Niger and Benue rivers were most affected, primarily because of the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in Northern Cameroon.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency or NEMA, the states are Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Cross River, Rivers, and Bayelsa.
Pre-1977, Nigeria and Cameroon agreed that each country should construct at least one dam. The idea was that when Cameroon released water from its dam, the Nigerian dam should swallow up the water coming from Cameroon to Nigeria to prevent flooding. The Cameroon dam aimed to serve the same purpose when Nigeria released its waters.
The primary purpose of the Cameroon dam, however, was to provide energy to its northern region and enable the irrigation of 15,000 hectares of crops.
Cameroon started the construction of the 27 kilometres earth Lagdo Dam in 1977, and it was ready by 1982. But Nigeria failed to construct the Dasin Hausa dam in Adamawa state.
In addition to containing floods from Cameroon, the 1.4km long and 40mm deep Dasin Hausa dam was supposed to irrigate 150,000 farmlands and play host to 20,000 tons of fish every year.
The implication is that every time Cameroon released water from its dam, several Nigerian states were flooded, including Kogi and Benue states that lie by the Benue Rivers. The Lagdo dam in Cameroon also lies along the Benue River.
Besides the release of water from the Cameroon Dam that brought about devasting floods in Nigeria in 2022, there was enough evidence to conclude that climate change contributed to extreme rain patterns that contributed significantly to the 2022 flooding as intensified rainfall caused rivers to overrun their banks.
In all, experts concluded that large river overflows, coastal storms, dam failure, disregard for warnings from the Nigerian meteorological service, a delay in evaluating flood victims and settling in flood-prone locations - including riverine and coastal districts - were the leading causes of the flooding in Nigeria.
Why was Jigawa the worst hit?
Beginning in August 2022, several spots of rain fell in different local areas of Jigawa State, totalling 100mm per day. Within a month, the state witnessed heavy rainfall, leading to floods that washed away properties, drowned children, and displaced many.
According to Sadiya Farouq, minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management, and social development, the state was the most impacted by the flood disaster. NEMA also confirmed that the state recorded the highest flood losses in 2022.
Jigawa is part of northern Nigerian states where the rain only falls within a short period from June to September, within the range of 500mm to 750mm every year. But 2022 was different; the intensity and time length of rainfall increased.
The River Hadejia in the state is known for overflowing every rainy season. In 2018, 30 people died due to flooding within the river, destroying over 68,000 hectares of farmlands. About 421 communities across Jahun, Miga, Auyo, Kafin Hausa, Guri, and Hadejia LGAs were severely affected.
Before the flood crisis in 2022, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) published a forecast analysis warning of extreme floods in Jigawa. The tragedies across the state could have been minimized if the residents and government had heeded the warning.
In the state, over 134 people were killed by floods, approximately N1.5 trillion worth of property was destroyed, and 76,887 more people were displaced.
What is the state government doing?
After the 2022 flooding, the Jigawa State government built two amphibious excavators for use in the Hadejia River's ongoing dredging project to reduce statewide flooding.
Amphibious excavator enables river dredging while floating over soft grounds, swamps, wetlands, and shallow water.
Community organizations were also given powers to perform waste management operations, unclog sewers, and open up blocked waterways throughout the state, while its 27 local councils embarked on drainage clearance exercises.
But there have been reports that political maladministration also contributes to flooding disasters and should be tackled.
"Floods persist in some parts of the Northern state like Jigawa because of insufficient drainage. I have come across several complaints online via some civic platform that tracks governmental projects," said Isaac Ibitoye, a Lagos-based environmental management expert.
"For example, the government would budget for the construction of roads with drainage, but when the work is done, the drainage won't be constructed."
But residents must play their part in protecting the environment.
"Most of those rural residents also cause floods sometimes by dropping refuse to block ways that water could pass freely. So I would suggest that people should work in support of the government to curb floods so that if more drainages are built, they can serve the purposes," Ibitoye concluded.
The 2023 showers of rain have started coming in some parts of Nigeria and will make their way to Jigawa from the second quarter. It is yet to be seen if the Jigawa state government's efforts would help reduce the impact should heavy rains result in severe flooding as the preceding year.
There are no forecasts yet suggesting a doomed year, but there had been heavy flooding in years no alarms were blown, hence the need for preparation.