At least 603 people have been killed by flooding in Nigeria, and all but three of the 36 states in the West African nation have been impacted. The floods have been caused by unusually strong rainfall.
Citing the Nigerian humanitarian affairs ministry, media reports said on Sunday:
The Nigerian national government also announced that more than 1.3 million people have been displaced due to the rising waters and a minimum of 340,000 hectares (840,158 acres) of land also have been affected.
The flooding has also triggered fears of food scarcity in the heavily agricultural nation. Nigeria’s population of 218 million is the largest in Africa.
“We are very sad over these flood incidences in the country. It is a national disaster,” Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said on Thursday at an improvised displacement camp in an elementary school.
“Nigeria, which gets heavy tropical rains from May to September, usually suffers from seasonal flash floods but almost never on this scale,” Reuters reported last week.
The problem was exacerbated by a release of water from the Lagdo Dam in neighboring Cameroon, which was necessitated by the rain waters causing the dam to overflow.
Among those displaced by the floods are thousands of Nigerians who were already in camps — which the flooding destroyed — for internally displaced people, due to the regional conflict. At least 15,000 Nigerians “are in immediate need of shelter and food due to floods which destroyed their camps,” according to the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration (IOM). “Heavy rainfall and strong winds have caused serious damage to shelters and infrastructure in camps and other sites for IDPs since the onset of Nigeria’s rainy season in June,” an information officer for the U.N.’s IOM said.
The organization said that funding remains short and the threats of worse impacts and prolonged famine loom.
“It is saddening,” Chiamaka Ibeanu, a nurse in Nigeria’s Anambra state, told the Washington Post on Sunday. “All of a sudden, people are left with no homes and turned to beggars in weeks. No matter how rich they were, the displacement has reduced them so much.”
Last week, 76 people died in Anambra when a boat they were using to escape roof-high flood waters capsized.
Nigeria is already struggling with decreased food production due to armed conflict in the country’s northwest and central regions. In East Africa, drought is threatening millions with food insecurity as well.
On Saturday, Australia experienced widespread flash flooding on its east coast as a result of heavy rains. Storm waters inundated homes and cars in three states and some areas were evacuated.
“It was frightening,” 61-year-old Antoinette Besalino told the AFP. “I have been here for the other floods but I have never seen anything like that.”
Including flooding this spring in southeast Australia, which also caused $3.3 billion in damage, 20 people have died from floods in the country this year.
A Reuters report said:
Authorities in Thailand issued flash flood warnings for eight southern provinces on Monday ahead of more rain expected this week, with areas in nearly 40% of the country’s provinces still inundated and dealing with flood waters.
Heavy rain and tropical storms since last month have caused flooding in 59 of Thailand’s 77 provinces, impacting 450,000 homes, according to the interior ministry.
In neighboring Malaysia, authorities issued rain warnings for Sabah, Sarawak Labuan on Borneo island owing to the Nesat tropical storm.
Another earlier report said:
Laddawan, who lives in the Bang Ban district of Ayutthaya province, told Reuters she had been inundated by floods for over a month, and she and her family had been “suffering” for years.
Bang Ban is located near a river basin, and is prone to flooding every year following seasonal monsoon rains.
According to the Thailand Interior Ministry, 27 provinces in the north, northeast and central parts of Thailand have faced intermittent flooding after Typhoon Noru swept through the Southeast Asian nation last month, impacting 224,687 households and killing four.
While this year’s seasonal floods are deemed less severe than the ones that also affected Ayutthaya in 2011, the government has prepared 23 billion baht ($607 million) for assistance and rehabilitation.
Another Reuters report said:
Canada’s British Columbia province on Thursday warned residents to prepare for flooding when rains eventually return after a prolonged drought exacerbated by climate change that has raised concerns about long-term damage to ecosystems ranging from glaciers to salmon rivers.
The usually rainy western province has experienced weeks of record-breaking warm fall temperatures and minimal precipitation in central and southern regions.
Vancouver, the largest city in British Columbia, received less than a sixth of its average rainfall in August and September and has received only 0.2 millimeters so far in October, according to Environment Canada. Across the province more than 150 maximum daytime temperature records were broken in September alone.
The drought is the latest sign of a changing climate in British Columbia, which last fall was lashed by atmospheric rivers that unleashed catastrophic rainfall, leading to flooding and landslides.
With forecasts showing rain could return by the end of next week, the provincial government said it would monitor river conditions closely in coming weeks.
“Dry soils can increase runoff and river flows,” Emergency Management BC said in a news release.
The exceptionally long dry spell in Canada’s most biodiverse province has sparked concerns about how different species will respond. Biologists are particularly concerned about salmon, which are critical to ecosystem health and culturally significant to indigenous First Nations.
Salmon migrate from the ocean to rivers to spawn at this time of year, but this month social media pictures showed thousands of dead salmon in a dried-up stream in central British Columbia.
Jason Hwang, vice president at the Pacific Salmon Foundation, said many salmon populations were delaying their journey upstream. But warmer water increases the risk of them becoming diseased and there were questions over the knock-on effects of spawning later than usual, such as when salmon eggs hatch.
“The scale of the effects of this weather pattern and climate change effects is something that we have not seen before. This is way beyond normal,” Hwang said. “It affects their whole fresh water life history.”
In the alpine, glaciers that would usually be accumulating snow at this time of year are still melting. While the dry fall is less damaging than the heat dome that engulfed British Columbia last summer, it is still not good for glaciers’ long-term health, said Brian Menounos, a professor of geography at the University of Northern British Columbia.
“You have to think about these glaciers like a bank balance,” Menounos said. “Anytime it’s negative, it’s bad because you accumulate these losses through time.”
The drought is also impacting British Columbia’s vast forests, which are under increasing pressure from the impact of a warming climate, said Ken Lertzman, professor of forest ecology and management at Simon Fraser University.
He said species like the western red cedar, which is important to both First Nations and the forestry industry, are in decline as a result.
“In general one stressful year will not have a long-term impact,” Lertzman said. “Unfortunately right now it’s a stressful fall coming on top of other stressors, largely climate change related.”
More extreme rainfall patterns are a consequence of climate crisis, making both droughts and floods more common. Countries around the world have experienced both this year. The droughts that parched North America, Europe and China this summer were made 20 times more likely because of climate change, according to a recent study by World Weather Attribution, an international collaboration among scientists.
Devastating floods in Pakistan have recently submerged one-third of the country, killed more than 1,300 and displaced 32 million people from their homes. In one week in late July and early August, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri all experienced so heavy that it is only supposed to occur once in every 1,000 years.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has recently called for increased aid from developed countries, which have contributed more than 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, to help developing countries adapt to climate change and to reimburse them for some of the losses caused by it.
“The people of Pakistan are the victims of a grim calculus of climate injustice,” Guterres said at the UN General Assembly earlier this month. He added that richer nations should increase the generosity of their climate change aid at the next U.N. climate change conference, also known as COP27, in Sharm-el Sheikh, Egypt next month.
Lack Of Sufficient Warning System
The UN issued a report last week finding that much of the world lacks sufficient emergency warning systems for extreme weather.
The UN Secretary-General called on nations to work together to implement a five-year action plan to deploy early warning systems worldwide, which he will unveil at COP27.
“Entire populations are being blindsided by cascading climate disasters, without any means of prior alert,” Guterres said. “People need adequate warning to prepare for extreme weather events.”