Nigeria had a though environmental year in 2012, with severe weather events experienced across the country. It affected people, places and properties causing losses of varying magnitude. Government, volunteers and organizations led response for victims, providing relief materials, shelters and care. The severity of the weather events in recent years has been on the high side, but hit new levels in 2012, in Nigeria.
Nigeria is known to have two major weather seasons, dry and wet. The former introduces the year, ending in February and continues in October, with the latter running in-between. Harmattan – a dry, dusty wind that blows late in the year from the Sahara desert, starts off the year, and was particularly high last year – across the country – with temperatures around 25oC – and high humidity.
Rainfall started slightly in February, before the wet season fully kicked off in March. A memorable example of rainfall was the first in Lagos – on February 13th – that made headlines coming with a storm of high magnitude. After that rainstorm, Nigeria had an inkling of what to expect from rainfall and weather in 2012.
The wet season started, and flooding was reported around the country, especially in the Southwestern part. There was also erosion around the Southeastern part, while the Northern areas experienced heavy sunlight, fewer rainfall and drought. That cycle continued until around July, when there was break from rainfall – for Lagos, while there was serious cold, amidst repair of third mainland bridge.
The wet season was winding down and fewer rainfalls around the country, when there was flooding around the Northwest, Southeast and South-Southern parts. The flooding was traced to the Lagdo Dam, opened in neighbouring Cameroon. The flooding extended to more states, more communities, caused losses to lives, properties, halted journeys and drew national attention.
The magnitude of the flood was so much; it reached the roof of certain bungalows, and rose above lintels of the ground floors of several buildings. The government had committees at state and federal levels, to assist victims and communities affected. Donation from highly placed individuals, organizations and corporates ran into billions of naira.
Nigeria capped 2012 with new knowledge and experience of what weather could be, with many alluding global warming for the change. Climate Change as a result of global warming – caused by increase in emissions that trap heat to the earth’s atmosphere – is experienced around the world, with 2012 being the hottest year on record in the US, and several other severe events globally.
What will 2013 look like, another 2012 or a modest one? We will have to see, but 2012 can be a model to prepare for 2013, if losses to lives and properties will be averted – in the scale of 2012 – this year. Climate change mitigation and adaptation is seen as a global solution, but first for Nigeria is adaptation, where emergency response, safety tips, addition to structures, maintenance and research will be necessary to ease fears, in hearts of many for weather in 2013.
Like in other parts of the world, climate change is not a priority issue for the Nigerian government. The economy, security and trade are higher priorities but as a developing nation, climate change will be an opportunity for new standards and procedure towards development – and to save the country and people from devastation, when these severe events call.