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date: 18 February 2019

Natural Hazards Governance in Nigeria

Summary and Keywords

Nigeria, like many other countries in sub–Saharan Africa, is exposed to natural hazards and disaster events, the most prominent being soil and coastal erosion, flooding, desertification, drought, air pollution as a result of gas flaring, heatwaves, deforestation, and soil degradation due to oil spillage. These events have caused serious disasters across the country. In the southeast region, flooding and gully erosion have led to the displacement of communities. In the Niger Delta region, oil exploration has destroyed the mangrove forests as well as the natural habitat for fishes and other aquatic species and flora. In northern Nigeria, desert encroachment, deforestation, and drought have adversely affected agricultural production, thereby threatening national food security.

The federal government, through its agencies, has produced and adopted policies and enacted laws and regulations geared towards containing the disastrous effects of natural hazards on the environment. The federal government collaborates with international organizations, such as the World Bank, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations High Commission for Refugees UNHCR, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to address disaster-related problems induced by natural hazards.

However, government efforts have not yielded the desired results due to inter-agency conflicts, corruption, low political will, and lack of manpower capacity for disaster management.

There is a need for a good governance system for natural hazards prevention and reduction in the country. This will require inter-agency synergy, increased funding of agencies, capacity building, and public awareness/participation.

Keywords: natural hazards, disaster, erosion, flooding, desertification, heatwave, climate change, governance

The Geographical Background of Nigeria

Nigeria is located in West Africa between 4°N and 14°N of the equator on the Gulf of Guinea, with a total land area of 923.768 square kilometers. It has a coastline of 853 km, which stretches from the Republic of Benin in the west to Cameroon in the east. Inland, it shares boarders with Niger and Chad to the north. The River Niger flows south from the northwestern part of Nigeria through the Oil Delta region towards the sea. The country has a rich biodiversity including swamps, rainforests, woodlands, mountains, and marginal savannah in the north, and two seasons: the dry season from November to March, and the wet season from April to October. The southern coastal region has an equatorial climate, with little temperature variation and two peaks of heavy rain during the wet season, with an average annual rainfall of 1,500–2,000 millimeters per year. The central region of Nigeria has a year-round average temperature above 18.5°C. The capital city, Abuja, is located at the center of the country and experiences a temperature range of 18.5–36°C with an annual rainfall of 500–1,500 mm. The northern region, the most arid, experiences a short wet season, producing an average rainfall of about 500 mm with temperatures as high as 45°C.

Another weather event that affects Nigeria is the harmathan, which is characterized by dry and dusty northeasterly trade winds that flow from the Sahara Desert over the coast of West Africa into the Gulf of Guinea. Its effect is felt between December and February, producing cold and dry weather in most places. It brings desert-like weather conditions, decreasing humidity, dissipating cloud cover, preventing rainfall formation due to its effects on clouds, and sometimes creating big clouds of dust that can result in dust storms or sand storms. Its effect on air transport can be hazardous, and it has led to the cancellation of flights due to poor visibility.

According to the 20th Nigeria Economic Report 2013, the country is richly endowed with natural resources such as oil and gas (Oxford Business Group—The Report Nigeria 2013), solid minerals such as coal, iron ore, zinc, tin, limestone, lead, colobite, and niobium, as well as rich agricultural soil. In addition to these natural resources, however, it also has its fair share of natural hazards.

Natural Hazards Profile of Nigeria

A natural hazard is defined as a geological, hydrological, or geomorphological phenomenon that poses a threat to humans and their activities (Wahaab, Atebije, & Yunusa, 2013). A hazard is also a potentially damaging physical event or disaster that can cause harm or risk, such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, storms, fires, lightning, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, avalanches, surges, tropical cyclones, and blizzards. The events caused by these phenomena can vary in magnitude, intensity, frequency, duration, area of extent, spatial dispersion, and temporal spacing. Their occurrence can wipe out years of urban development, destroying a city’s critical infrastructure, weakening urban support systems and service institutions, and causing loss of lives, as recently experienced in Houston, Texas and Puerto Rico as a result of the effects of Hurricane Maria in the United States.

In Nigeria, the prominent natural hazards are hydro-meteorological, and occasionally geological as a result of landslides and biological due to insect plagues and pandemics. Hydro-meteorological hazards such as erosion, flood, thunderstorm, drought, deforestation, oil spillage, and bush fire have caused serious disasters across the country over the years.

Hydro-Meteorological Hazards

Hydro-meteorological hazards can be regarded as natural atmospheric, hydrological, or oceanographic phenomena that may lead to loss of life, property, social and economic disruption, or even environmental degradation of unimaginable proportions. Hydro-meteorological hazards include floods, storm surges, thunderstorms, cyclones, hailstorms, coastal storms, rain and wind storms, drought, desertification, wildfires, sand storms, and extreme temperatures (heatwaves).


Soil Erosion

Soil erosion is the process by which soil and rock particles are removed from the earth’s surface by natural processes such as wind, storms, water flow, and run-off. These particulates are transported and deposited in another location. This process in turn leads to loss of rich nutrients present in the upper soil layer, thereby making it difficult for plants to survive in such an area. Wind storms occur due to the overcultivation of the soil. When a particular parcel of land is subjected to repeated farming over a long period of time, the land becomes infertile due to loss of nutrients, becomes degraded, and is blown away by wind or displaced by run-off. This often results in gully erosion.

Gully Erosion

Gully erosion has become a serious concern in many parts of Nigeria, especially in the southeastern part of the country. This phenomenon has led to the loss of lives and property worth millions of naira. According to Asiabaka and Boers (1988), there are well over 1,970 gully erosion sites in Imo and Abia states in Nigeria.

Of the five states in the region (zone), Anambra has the highest concentration of gully sites, followed by Enugu State, while Imo and Abia have recorded stressed areas. This region, with an average rainfall of 1,952 mm from March to November, is prone to erosion as a result of the impact of raindrops on the topographic surface. Human activities such as sand excavation, which very often are carried out on existing roadsides, exacerbate gully erosion. Examples of these activities of sand excavation by individuals are seen in Agu Awka in Anambra State, Awomama in Oru East Local Government Area (LGA), Njaba LGA, and Nekede in Owerri West LGA of Imo State. Other areas where human activities have exacerbated gully erosion include the Ajah water scheme at Owa, the Enugu–Onitsha highway, the Umuchu-Umunze Road, and the Agulu-Nanka gullies. In addition, urbanization has led to massive road construction, and building developments contribute immensely to gully site development in the region due to heavy run-off. It must also be stated that the nature of the soil in the states of this region contributes to gully erosion, because the soil in this area is not consolidated and is therefore easily detached once impacted by flood water.

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Figure 1. Erosion Site at Nanka Anambra State. A typical example of the effect of gully erosion at Nanka Anambra State.

Source: Onu (2017).

Coastal Erosion

Coastal erosion (Figure 1) is the physical process by which the shoreline in the coastal areas of Nigeria shifts and changes due to ocean surges, tidal waves, and storm surges. In a case recorded in October 2017 (NTA News, October 24), the Agge Community in Bayelsa State is said to have lost or to be losing its coastal shoreline due to ocean surge, thereby displacing people from their homes, with a loss of property worth millions of naira in the process. This is not an isolated case, as the entire coastal shoreline of Nigeria is exposed to this type of hazard, which has led to disasters of unimaginable proportion, especially with the near loss of Bar beach in Lagos, which was later filled with sand to make way for the establishment of the Eko City project.

Other Factors

Other factors that influence the incidence of erosion include agricultural practices that have led to the loss of vegetative cover that is cleared annually, exposing the topsoil to erosion. Moreover, the nature of settlement patterns, and urban and infrastructural development in the region, has contributed in no small measure to soil erosion. Because settlements are not planned, housing construction is sporadic (and indiscriminate), often undertaken without consideration for natural drainage courses, and infrastructure such as roads are constructed without appropriate drainage channels, and often without engineering designs and construction methods appropriate to this area. This practice has resulted in the development of gullies.


Flood events are the most common and catastrophic disasters in Nigeria (Etuonovbe, 2011). The two primary factors responsible for flooding in Nigeria are climate change, which is a global phenomenon resulting in extreme weather events such as rainfall factor, and rapid urban growth coupled with poor urban planning. This is because unplanned physical development has outpaced the capacity and ability of responsible governments to provide critical infrastructure ahead of the sporadic development witnessed in the country. Increased urbanization and industrialization has also increased the number of roads and buildings in the country, thereby increasing the proportion of impermeable surfaces in urban areas where water cannot be absorbed into the ground. This has led to rapid run-off, which then causes flooding during storms. Flooding in recent times has caused a number of disasters and extensive damage in Nigeria as a result of intensive seasonal rainfalls and the release of water from dams. The 2012 flood disaster that affected 256 LGAs in 33 of the country’s 36 states was the worst recorded event so far. That event was linked to the release of water from dams at Lagado in Cameroon, as well as Jebba, Kanji, and Shiroro dams in Niger State. The 2012 event led to the loss of 363 lives, the displacement of over 2,100,000 families, 18,200 injuries, damage to 61,800 houses in 3,870 communities, and economic losses estimated at 2.5 trillion naira.

In 2016, around 11 states in the northern part of the country were affected by floods that submerged buildings and cars, resulting in a huge economic loss, and in 2017 experienced a serious disaster. Places such as Lekki, Ikoyi, and Victoria Island were the worst affected, as many vehicles were abandoned on the road for days while property worth millions of naira was lost in flooded homes. Lagos recorded four to six inches of rain in the period from July 2 to July 8, 2017. Faulty drainage systems were said to have contributed to the flooding. The disaster arising from this led to the loss of electricity in the affected areas. In Suleja, a sprawling town in Niger State, more than 500 people were reported missing and at least 90 houses collapsed as a result of the flooding. In Benue State, at least six local governments, including Makurdi, Bukuru, Guna, Tarka, Logo and Agatu, were affected by flooding. Makurdi, the state capital, was the worst hit, as many houses were submerged in water. The same was experienced in Owerri, Imo State, where many houses were also submerged, as shown in Figure 2.

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Figure 2. Flood in Owerri, Imo State (2017).

Source: Onu (2017).

The flood, which was caused by torrential rain, was reported to have displaced more than 200,000 people in Benue State. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) were later relocated to a not-yet-occupied local modern market where they were exposed to very poor environmental conditions, with the IDPs complaining of a lack of food (The Nigeria Voice, September 2, 2017). The most flood prone areas of Nigeria are located in the deltas of the rivers Benue, Hadeja, and Niger as well as the coastal parts of the country, with Bayelsa, Cross River, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Lagos, Ondo, and Oyo being the most affected. Flooding usually occurs between July and October every year.

Desertification and Drought

Desertification is the process of converting a grassland or already arid land into a desert through indiscriminate human activities magnified by droughts. Such actions include overgrazing, bush burning, and deforestation. The northern part of Nigeria is currently witnessing consistent droughts and gradual encroachment of the desert (Ogboi, 2013). It has also been recorded that the rainy season has been reduced from an average of 150 days to 120 days, with the desert advancing southwards, resulting in the loss of vegetation and displacement of persons (Ogboi, 2012). Nigeria loses around 350,000 hectares of available land yearly due to desert encroachment. This event affects villages in the 11 states referred to as front line states in Nigeria. The consequences of this are a severe threat to surface and underground water sources as well as a reduction in agricultural yield, indicating danger to food security in the country. Desertification in Nigeria is believed to be one of the most threatening environmental hazards, a phenomenon reinforced by social factors such as deforestation.

Geological Hazards

Geological hazards are another type of natural hazard phenomenon with the potential to cause loss of lives and property. Events such as avalanches, earthquakes, tsunamis, geomagnetic storms, mudflows, pyroclastic flows, and ice jams are not experienced in Nigeria. However, the country does experience events leading to deforestation; landslides, which occur with the lateral displacement of the earth’s surface on a slope or hillside; rock falls, especially in mountainous regions of the country; flash floods as a result of torrential rain, especially in urban areas due to inadequate drainage systems; and sand dune migration. Geological hazards are discussed below.


Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses (Bradford, 2015). Deforestation, which leads to exposure of the soil to harsh weather events, contributes significantly to environmental degradation, including soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, loss of wildlife, and increased desertification. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Report 2005, Nigeria has the highest deforestation rate in the world.

It has been reported that Nigeria plunders more than 30 million tons of fire wood annually from its forests as a result of pressure on the urban poor, who resort to this cheapest means of cooking (Abubakar & Yamusa, 2013). Social problems such as poverty have driven many farmers who cannot afford basic necessities due to low farm production to look for alternative sources of income. Many of them resort to cutting down trees to sell as firewood. Nigeria’s forested area decreased from 131,370 km2 in 2000 to 182,218 km2 in 2012 due to deforestation. Many people in Nigeria today resort to the use of firewood because of the high cost of kerosene and cooking gas.


In order to contain this deforestation phenomenon, Nigeria embarked on an afforestation program in 1984 with the launching of a tree planting campaign. In 2007, the African Union (AU) endorsed the Great Green Wall Program for the Sahara and Sahel originally conceived by Nigeria. The objective was to tackle the social, economic, and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification on the region. The Great Green Wall project is not only an afforestation program but a reforestation program initiative or an established Green wall of trees from Senegal to Djibouti, but a framework of action for rural development. A specific goal of the initiative, among others, is to address land degradation and desertification in the Sahel and Sahara region, to enhance food security, and to support communities in adapting to climate change.

Currently 11 countries are involved in the program, including Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, and Chad.


Drought is one of the most destructive types of natural disasters in Nigeria, as it has a serious impact on food production and security. During the drought of 1972–1973, more than 300,000 heads of livestocks were reported lost in northeastern Nigeria. Agricultural yield also dropped drastically. In the drought of 1987, crop yields ranged between 56% with massive economic losses and destruction of ecological resources. Figure 3 illustrates the effect of drought in Nigeria.

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Figure 3. Evidence of Drought in Northern Nigeria.

Source: Onu (2017).

Sand Storms and Sand Dunes

Sand storms are a weather phenomenon represented by the influence of dust particles carried by turbulent and strong winds to high altitude, severely diminishing horizontal visibility. The resultant effect of sand storms is the crumbling of makeshift structures usually employed by petty traders to display their wares, and poor visibility.

In 2004, thick smog and sand storms were reported to have blanketed the city of Maiduguri, reducing visibility, wreaking havoc on structures, and disrupting economic and social activities, including educational institutions and health facilities. Air quality in the city was impaired, thereby aggravating medical conditions. The city of Maiduguri is known to have suffered environmental challenges due to the effect of sand storms in the city. Sandstorms have led to the destruction of trees and houses, and even health challenges as they aggravate asthma, affects the eyes, and because breathing problems. Drought, deforestation, and desertification are leading causes of sandstorms, which occur regularly in the northeastern state of Borno due to its proximity to the Sahara desert, which is quickly encroaching on Nigeria.

Sand dune encroachment in northern Nigeria is taking over villages, resulting in massive migration out of the region, especially by Fulani herdsmen who seek new grazing lands. This search for new grazing land by the Fulani has led to communal clashes between arable farmers and the Fulani pastoral herdsmen. These occur when there is a long period of dry weather, especially when there is not enough rainfall in the area for the successful growth of plants. The 11 states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Kastina, Kano, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe, Borno, Bauch, Gombe, and Adamawa are those most affected by this type of event.

Bush Burning

Bush burning is a common practice that has contributed greatly to deforestation in Nigeria. It is known practice that hunter often use fire through bush burning to hunt animals as grass cutter. Some local farmers use the practice as a means of clearing their land in readiness for the next cropping season as well. Bush burning results in the destruction of biodiversity and a reduction in soil nutrient content, the soil’s ability to absorb water, and the microbial content of the soil.


Overgrazing of vegetation as a result of continuous activities of cattle rearers who rely on vegetation to feed their herds results in for deforestation leading to desertification. Overgrazing leads to a reduction of shrubs and grasses as well as exposure of the soil to extreme temperatures, leading to the loss or reduction of groundwater in the affected area.


Heatwaves are prolonged periods of excessively heat weather combined with high humidity. This is experienced across Nigeria but is more prevalent in the northern part of Nigeria and in urban areas. The phenomenon is associated with ailments that make life miserable for people, especially in urban areas with irregular power supply, such as dehydration, heat rashes, and respiratory ailments, among others, with stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality induced by high temperatures. A prolonged drought brought about by hot weather can have a serious economic impact on a community, as it can lead to increased demand for water and electricity with resultant shortages of resources. Food shortages can also occur as a result of poor agricultural production or loss of crops and livestock. With a high heat index, individuals may experience heat cramps, which are muscular spasms due to heavy exertion. It may also lead to heat exhaustion, which occurs when people work in a hot and humid environment. Prolonged exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition that has been recorded in some northern states of the country, resulting in health problems such as meningitis. Heat stroke raises the body temperature so high that brain damage and death may occur if the body is not cooled quickly. All of these effects have been experienced in Nigeria. In March 2016, Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, was hit by one of the most intense heatwaves in Nigerian history. According to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), the temperature reached an all-time high of 36°C in Lagos.

Food Security Threats

The efforts of the government to address the desertification problem in some parts of the country and food security have been stalled by the activities of terrorist insurgencies, particularly Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria. Three of the front-line states, Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, have suffered greatly from the activities of terrorist groups which have prevented people from going to their farms. Livestock farming is facing serious challenges because of the level of insecurity in the northeast of Nigeria.


Landslides occur in areas with relatively steep slopes and unstable soil formation. Landslides cause severe damage to structures and municipal systems. This can lead to blockage of natural drainage courses, loss of area of crop production, and flooding when combined with heavy rainfall. This has been evident in Njaba LGA of Imo State and Lokoja in Kogi State.

Climate Change

Climate change which is driven by human activities globally has lead to the destruction of the ecosystem and increased pollution (air, water, and soil). The emission of greenhouse gases, if allowed to continue unchecked, will accelerate the rate of climate change with attendant impacts on water, air, ecosystem, food security, coastal zones, and human health.

Biological Hazards

Akujobi (2013) defines biological hazards as those of organic origin or conveyed by biological vectors. These hazards are usually influenced by exposure to pathogenic micro-organisms, toxins, or bioactive substances, which may result in loss of life, property damage, or social and economic disruption. Biological hazards could be the result of outbreaks of epidemic diseases, insect plagues, or extensive infection. They include microorganisms, viruses, and toxins that can affect human health. Biological hazards also include bacteria, insects, pests, locusts, crop-eating birds, herds, animals, and humans. These hazards can lead to a number of health effects ranging from skin irritation and allergies to infections, as well as to crops. There are several common biological hazards in Nigeria.

Invasion by Birds

The northern part of Nigeria suffers from periodic invasions of grain-eating birds, quela birds, that exacerbated food shortages across the country. As far back of 2005, and earlier in the north, farmers lost precious grain harvests due to the invasion of birds from Niger Republic that stripped the fields. In the reported cases about 8000 hectares of crops in Zamfara State were decimated as reported by the state permanent Secretary, Tukur Maru (Ministry of Agriculture Zamfara in 2005).

According to the report, tiny quela birds in their thousands invaded farmlands from neighboring Niger Republic where they could not find food due to drought and the locust infestation the previous year. In the affected areas of Maradun, Mafara, and Bukura in northern Zamfara, about 42,000 farmers lost their crops to the invading quela birds. In 2016, the federal government of Nigeria warned Nigerians, especially the governments of Zamfara, Jigawa, Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states in Nigeria’s northeast, to move swiftly to prevent birds, locusts, and insects from moving into Nigeria.

Invasion by Locusts

Locusts and grasshoppers are known to have caused serious damage to crops in the northern states of Nigeria in the past. In response, the governments of the affected states have made preparations to ward off any attack on the farms in their states.


Avian flu has severally affected birds and livestock in some parts of the country, causing serious concern about food security. Some small animals and insects are known to cause serious health problems in Nigeria. Mosquitos are a vector for the transmission of malaria, a deadly disease. It is reported that the malaria parasite is responsible for the death of over one million people a year. In an attempt to combat malaria, since 2011 Nigeria has been distributing anti-mosquito treated nets to households in order to reduce people’s exposure to mosquito bites.

Another disease-carrying agent is the fruit bat, which is responsible for transmitting the Ebola virus. Nigeria has recorded a few cases of Ebola, but has suffered only a few casualties thanks to health authorities’ quick response in containing the outbreak. Cases of Lassa fever contracted through the feces or urine of infected rats, have occasionally been reported, mostly in the northern parts of the country. This disease is known to have caused the deaths of about 5,000 people annually. House flies also transmit pathogens of easily communicable diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, and tuberculosis, which have also taken over 2,000,000 lives.

Hazards in the Nigerian Oil Industry

Oil exploration and exploitation in the oil-producing states of the Niger Delta have negatively impacted on the environment and the ecosystem. The destruction of the mangrove forests as a result of oil spillage, illegal oil bunkering, artisanal refining, and gas flaring has resulted in air, land, and water (surface and groundwater) pollution, creating severe environmental hazards in the region. Communities that depend on mangrove forests are suffering because the polluted rivers and fish habitat can no longer sustain their fishing activities. Pollution has led to the loss of nutrient sources in the estuaries for fish, prawns, crabs, and others. Oil exploitation has also led to the contamination of both surface and groundwater as well as air through the combined effects of benzene, hydrogen sulfide, xylem, toluene, and PHA (volatile organic compounds). The contamination of the soil due to oil spillage and leaks has also increased deforestation and economic loss. Coastal shoreline and riverbank erosion has been reported in this region due to the combined effects of oil exploration and exploitation.

Gas Flaring

Gas flaring by oil companies has contributed in no small measure to environmental pollution and degradation in the region. This activity contributes to climate change through the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. According to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the buildup of CO2 and methane in the atmosphere is responsible for 80% of the global warming to date. Ajugwo (2013) reports that gas flaring and its attendant impact on the ecosystem has improvised communities in the region has posed environmental, economic, and health challenges.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (2017) report shows that gas flaring, which is a serious environmental hazard, has been reduced by 26% in the last 10 years from 36% to 10% between 2007 and 2017. The effort has pushed Nigeria down from the highest gas flaring nation in 2006 to the seventh position. Nigeria in 2006 was flaring 2.5 billion cubic feet (SCF) of gas while consuming only 300 mscf of gas per day. It was also reported that the reduction in gas flaring was achieved through aggressive gas commercialization anchored on the national gas master plan.

Oil Spillage

Oil spillage in Nigeria is generally caused by sabotage due to oil bunkering and vandalization of pipelines, which has had a disastrous impact on human and environmental health in Nigeria. To combat this, the federal government in 2013 created the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA). Part of its responsibility is to play a leading role in ensuring a timely, effective, and appropriate response to oil spills.

In Ogoniland, farms, drinking water sources, homes, and other resources on which the inhabitants of the area depend have been severely affected by hydrocarbons arising from oil spill and production activities. The level and impact of environmental hazard in Ogoniland led the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to set up an investigative committee, at the request of the federal government, to evaluate the extent of contamination in the area. This was in response to protests by the Ogoni people to the United Nations about the environmental degradation and disasters arising from the activities of oil companies, especially Shell (SPDC), in the area. The investigation ( 2011) showed that the Ogoni people live with pollution every day. Hydrocarbons contamination in the soil in some areas covered a depth of at least five inches (12.7 centimeters), exceeding Nigeria National Standards as set out in the Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industries in Nigeria (EGASPIN).

In the Nisisioken Ogale community, drinking water is sourced from wells that are reportedly contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen, at levels at least 900 times above the World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Hydrocarbon contamination in seven wells sampled out of 28 in the 11 communities adjacent to contaminated sites are at least 1,000 times higher than the Nigerian drinking water standard of 3 ug/l. Benzene was detected in all air samples at concentrations ranging from 0.155 to 48.2 up/m5. This is higher than the concentrations reported by WHO and the U.S. EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) as corresponding to a one in 1,000 cancer risk. Figure 4 provides evidence of oil spillage in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria which has polluted the water source in the region.

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Figure 4. Oil Spillage in Ogoniland Area of Nigeria.

Source: Onu (2017).

Acid Rain

The combined effects of gaseous substances or particulate matter and moisture in the atmosphere lead to acid rain. Acid rain has been responsible for the corrosion of corrugated roofs of buildings and accelerating the decay of buildings in the Niger Delta region. The primary cause of acid rain is the emission of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx), which combine with atmospheric mixture to form sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Acid rain acidifies rivers, lakes, and streams and damages vegetation. The resultant contaminants acidify the soil, thereby depleting the soil nutrients. In vegetation, it leads to stunted growth and scotching of plants, premature fruiting, and leaf drop. Hazardous air pollutants emitted into the atmosphere as a result of incomplete combustion due to gas flaring have had disastrous effects on humankind (Orimoogunje, Ayanlade, Akinkuolie, & Odiong, 2010). These pollutants are associated with adverse health impacts such as cancer, neurological problems, reproductive and developmental effects such as deformities in children, and damage to lungs.

Pipeline Explosion: Corrosion and Vandalism

Related to oil spillage are pipeline explosions arising from corrosion and vandalism. These lead to spillage of oil into the environment as well as the emission of gaseous substances into the atmosphere. Figure 5 illustrates a pipeline explosion as the result of vandalism.

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Figure 5. Pipeline Explosion in a Community in Bayelsa State.

Source: Onu (2017).

Governance Structure and Efforts to Contain Natural Hazards in Nigeria

Governance involves establishing policies and strategies to protect and manage a nation’s resources. It is about the exercise of authority to ensure professionalism, accountability, and openness in the way a government agency conducts its activities. Nigeria has witnessed a considerable increase in natural hazards in recent years and has taken steps nationally and through international collaboration to tackle the hazards and related risks. The governance structure for hazards and disaster management is discussed below.

Policy and Legal Instruments

The governments, in its effort to prevent, mitigate, and manage the outcome of natural hazards to prevent environmental disaster, have designed policies to address these issues. Most of these policies cut across the activities of several ministries, with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ministry of Water Resources, and Federal Ministry of Environment playing crucial roles. The policies have led to the enactment of the following regulations and legal instruments.

  1. 1. The 1928 Lagos Town Ordinance (pre-independence)

  2. 2. The Town and Country Planning Ordinance (pre-independence)

  3. 3. The Land Use Act, 1978

  4. 4. The River Basin Development Authority Act, 1979

  5. 5. The Factories Act, 1987

  6. 6. The Urban and Regional Planning Law, 1992

  7. 7. The Zoning Act, 1992

  8. 8. The Environmental Impact Assessment Act, 1992

  9. 9. The Harmful Waste (special criminal provision) Act, 1988

  10. 10. The Water Resource Act, 1993

  11. 11. The National Building Code, 2006

  12. 12. The NESREA Act, 2007

  13. 13. The National Housing Policy, 2012

  14. 14. The National Urban Development Policy, 2012

  15. 15. The National Agricultural Policy, 2012

  16. 16. International conventions and treaties signed by the Nigerian government.

Institutional Enactments

The national awareness of environmental hazards in Nigeria was heightened in the wake of the dumping of nuclear waste in the Port of Koko in 1988 by an Italian syndicate. This led to the enactment of the Federal Environmental Protection Act (FEPA) Act of 1988, the Harmful Waste (special criminal provision) Act of 1988 and the National Environmental Policy (NEP) in 1991. The National Environmental Standards Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) is the umbrella environmental regulator in Nigeria, which plays a significant role in managing and preventing disasters. This agency was established by the NESREA Act in 2007, which repealed the FEPA Act Cap No F10 LFN of 2004.

Hazards Governance in the Agriculture Sector

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture is the operating and implementing ministry and the activities of the National Agricultural Policy (NAP) are in harmony with the 2005 National Action Plan to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in Nigeria. To this effect, the federal government signed the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and other initiatives with the establishment of the National Coordinating Committee on Desertification Control (NCCDC), which is the national body for the implementation of the convention in Nigeria. The National Agricultural Policy for combating drought and desertification focused on the following:

  1. 1. Protection of agricultural land from drought, desertification, soil erosion, and flood;

  2. 2. Protection and conservation of forests;

  3. 3. Promotion of alternative sources of energy;

  4. 4. Integrated water resource management;

  5. 5. Promotion of appropriate farming systems.

In 1977, the federal government also set up the Arid Zone Afforestation Project (AZAP) to examine the problems of desertification in the country and limit desert encroachment.

The River Basin Development Authority was established in 1986 to complement the activities of other agencies in addressing environmental issues. In the states, tree planting campaigns were launched and forestry projects were embarked upon to check deforestation. Another program involving shelter belts was established along the northern borders of the country with the distribution to the states of assorted seedlings for planting. To strengthen the program, dams were developed for electricity generation and River Basin Authorities were created to aid irrigation, all in an effort to promote food production. The Fadama I, II, and III which is an agricultural empowerment projects were also introduced. A department was created for drought and desertification in the Federal Ministry of Environment to coordinate government activities towards the implementation of projects initiated by the Coordinating Committee on Desertification (CCD). The Great Green Wall Program (GGWP), initiated in 2005, is a global tree planting project to limit desert encroachment. The program was inaugurated in 46 local governments in the 11 front-line states of Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kastina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Yobe, and Kebbi. The program was developed by the AU to address the detrimental environmental effects of land degradation and desertification in the region (Federal Ministry of Environment, 2014).

To sustain the measure, the Nigerian government has received financial and technical support for capacity building from a number of sources. Some of the known partners include the World Bank, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), China, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Some of the assistance programs from Japan (JICA) and UNEP/GEF (Global Environment Facility) have been completed, while others are ongoing. The federal government also collaborated with Agricultural Development Company Ltd., an Israeli firm, to work on the “desert to food program” to eradicate the menace of desertification. Norwegian Council for Africa in 2014 through the Norwegian Refuge Council assisted the Nigerian government in finding durable solution to the problem of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) as a result of natural hazards and insecurity. The government has undertaken legislative work to support and enforce the execution of these programs, and Borno State has initiated measures to sustain them, including:

  1. 1. The felling of trees (control) Edict (Borno State Edit No. 8) of 1987 to control the use of wood for fuel and to check the pressure on the state’s meager forest resources;

  2. 2. The burning of bush (control) edit (Borno State Edit No. 7) of 1987 to control bush burning;

  3. 3. A new Ministry of Animal and Forestry Resources was established in 1987 to coordinate the desertification control project;

  4. 4. Planned grass planting control.

Other states such as Kastina and Jigawa have also enacted legislation to support this effort.

Governance in the Environment Sector

NESREA is an agency of the Federal Ministry of Environment empowered to enforce all environmental laws, guidelines, policies, standards, and regulations in Nigeria as well as compliance with the provisions of international agreements, protocols, conventions, and treaties on the environment to which Nigeria is a signatory. Natural hazards governance activities of the NESREA include, among others:

  1. 1. Developing regulations to control and remediate environmental disasters, including desertification, bush fires and open burning pollution, erosion, flooding, disease outbreaks, and chemical and toxic wastes;

  2. 2. Hazards and disaster risk reduction regulation—all the preventive regulations aimed at reducing the possibility of disasters, especially those attributable to anthropogenic factors;

  3. 3. Municipal development regulation: the agency considers the zoning acts, municipal development guidelines, and building codes to prevent the location of essential facilities on flood plains;

  4. 4. Hazards identification: continually identifying natural/man-made hazards and assessing the associated risks and costs in Nigeria with a view to forestalling their occurrence;

  5. 5. Improving the capacity of communities to predict and give early warning of natural hazards and disaster risk;

  6. 6. Strengthening disaster mitigation capabilities and preparedness of individuals and communities in disaster emergency situations;

  7. 7. Creating awareness of disaster prevention and mitigation through training, education, and public enlightenment programs.

NESREA Contributions to National Hazards Prevention and Mitigation

Since its inception in 2007, NESREA has developed 24 environmental regulations aimed at reducing environmental disasters, especially those attributed to anthropogenic factors. These are:

  1. 1. The National Environmental (Coastal and Marine Area Protection) Regulation, 2010

  2. 2. The National Environmental (Soil Erosion and Flood Control) Regulation, 2010

  3. 3. The National Environmental (Control of Bush/Forest Fire and Open Burning) Regulation, 2010

  4. 4. The National Environmental (Drought Mitigation and Desertification Control) Regulation, 2010

  5. 5. The National Environmental (Protection of Watershed, Hilly and Mountainous Catchment Area) Regulation, 2009

  6. 6. The National Environmental (Wetlands, Riverbanks and Lakeshore Protection) Regulation, 2009

  7. 7. The National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Control) Regulation, 2009

  8. 8. The National Environmental (Electrical/Electronic Sector) Regulation, 2009

  9. 9. The National Environmental (Chemical, Pharmaceuticals, Soap & Detergent Manufacturing Industries) Regulation, 2009

  10. 10. The National Environmental (Permitting & Licensing System) Regulation, 2009

  11. 11. The National Environmental (Mining and Processing of Coal Ore and Industrial Mineral) Regulation, 2009

  12. 12. The National Environmental (Access to Generic Resource and Benefit Sharing) Regulation, 2009

  13. 13. The National Environmental (Noise Standard & Control) Regulation, 2009

  14. 14. The National Environmental (Ozone Layer Protection) Regulation, 2009

  15. 15. The National Environmental (Textile, Wearing Apparel, Leather and Footwear Industry) Regulation, 2009

  16. 16. The National Environmental (Food, Beverages & Tobacco Sector) Regulation, 2009

  17. 17. The National Environmental (Protection of Endangered Species in International Trade) Regulation, 2010

  18. 18. The National Environmental (Construction Sector) Regulation, 2010

  19. 19. The National Environmental (Control of Vehicular emission from Petrol and Diesel Engine) Regulation, 2010

  20. 20. The National (Non-Metallic Minerals Management Industrial Sector) Regulation, 2010

  21. 21. The National Environmental (Surface and Ground Water Quality Control) Regulation, 2010

  22. 22. The National Environmental (Base Metals, Iron and Steel Manufacturing/Recycling Industries) Regulation, 2010

  23. 23. The National Environmental (Standards for Telecommunication/Broadcasting Facilities) Regulation, 2010

  24. 24. The National Environmental (Domestic and Industrial Plastics, Rubber and Foam Sector) Regulations, 2010.

In addition to these regulations, the agency is required to collaborate with the state governments through the establishment and operation of around 22 state offices across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. It is also mandated to intercept and return to countries of origin several toxic or hazardous wastes and to solicit regional and international support to check the illegal importation and drying of e-waste in Nigeria.

The establishment of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) under Decree 58 of 1988 was an important first step towards addressing desert encroachment. The 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were also mandated to establish their own State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to address environmental problems.

Hazards Governance in the Petroleum Sector

It is further required to commission two Natural Reference Environmental Laboratories to be located in Port Harcourt and Kano to check effluent discharge from industries and finally to create environmental awareness on disaster prevention and mitigation through training, education, and public enlightenment.

The Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria (EGASPIN), first issued in 1992, is the operational basis for environmental regulation in the oil industry. This regulation has been found to be internally inconsistent with regard to one of the most important criteria for oil spill and contaminated site management. A study found that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and NOSDRA have different interpretations of EGASPIN. It has also been reported that most Nigerians agencies in this operation lack qualified technical experts and resources to carry them out. NOSDRA reportedly relies on the oil industry for logistical support in their field operations. Reports indicate that it may take 20–30 years to achieve environmental remediation in Ogoniland. The clean-up, which should start with land-based contamination and restoration of the mangrove forests, should be viewed as a large-scale pilot project and, once successful, should be replicated in other areas. On June 2, 2016, the federal government announced the appropriation of one billion dollars for the clean-up exercise based on UNEP report. However, no funds have been released and the clean-up exercise, which is projected to take 30 years, has not yet begun, seven years after UNEP submitted its report. In 2012 Shell commenced a clean-up project through its Ogoni Restoration Project (ORP), but this was very insignificant compared with the recommendation in the UNEP report.

Environmental Hazards and Disaster Management in Nigeria

The Nigeria Environmental Management Agency (NEMA) was established by Act 12, as amended by Act 50 of 1999, to manage disasters in Nigeria (NEMA, 1999). According to the law, the functions of NEMA include formulating policy on all activities relating to disaster management in Nigeria, coordinating plans and programs for an efficient and effective response to disasters at the national level; monitoring the state of preparedness of all stakeholders; and coordinating resources towards efficient and effective disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation, and response. Following this mandate, NEMA has developed a mechanism for disaster risk reduction/disaster risk management (DRR/DRM) in the country. It has over 700 employees, six zonal offices (one in each geopolitical zone), and operational offices in the respective zones. In addition to its activities, ministerial departments and agencies (MDAs), state agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders have mandates to play key roles in disaster management (DM) in Nigeria.

At the state government level, the law requires the establishment of State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) with the responsibility to formulate state disaster management policies and partner with other institutions in implementing DM activities. LGAs are expected to establish Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs) to serve as the coordinating bodies at the grassroots level, but they are to a large extent non-existent in the LGAs. NEMA, in collaboration with stakeholders across the country, developed in 2006 a National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction (2006–2015). This is a detailed document designed in accordance with the Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA). The implementation of the document is coordinated by NEMA, and it rests on a set of DRR guiding principles. The objectives of the plan of action, as set out in the 2007 HFA update report, are to:

  1. 1. Identify natural/human-induced hazards and assess their associated risks and costs;

  2. 2. Improve the capacities of communities to predict and offer early warnings on natural hazards and disaster risks;

  3. 3. Enhance public awareness of disaster prevention and mitigation through training, education, and public enlightenment;

  4. 4. Promote understanding of the DRR paradigm; and

  5. 5. Promote appropriate intervening institutions to enhance the capacities of SEMA’s, local governments, and communities.

Nigeria established the DRR platform in 2009 under the coordination of NEMA. Other members of the platform include federal MDAs, local and international NGOs, and universities. As the coordinating agency for DM and HFA implementation in Nigeria, NEMA drives the platform based on consultation with the other partners.

To facilitate capacity development, NEMA has a training department that coordinates capacity building and training in the agency. The aim of its training activities is to build DRM competence among its staff and other agencies at the national, state, and local levels, and DRR awareness in communities. The training portfolio of the agency cuts across staff in the state and local agencies. NEMA’s capacity is recognized in the West African region, especially among the anglophone countries.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has expressed interest in replicating the Nigerian DRR capacity development process in other countries in the region. NEMA has also worked towards mainstreaming DRR in professional programs in high-level administration training schools, such as the Police Training College, the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, the In-Service Training Programme for Civil Servants, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, the National Youth Service Corps, the National Road Safety Corps, and the universities. NEMA has been putting much effort into supporting the states to setup DM institutional frameworks. Through its zonal offices, NEMA has provided support to states for the establishment of SEMAs. After the 2012 flood disaster, the states strengthened their SEMAs, positioning them to act as the DRR focal points and coordinators in the respective states.

National Disaster Management Framework (NDMF)

Nigeria developed the National Disaster Management Framework (NDMF) as part of the effort towards effective and efficient DRM. NDMF is a review of the National Disaster Response Plan. It was developed under a broad national consultative process, including hearings. The document complements the existing NEMA Act, not only as the result of a wide participatory process, but also reflecting the time needed for buy-in and commitment for DRR. The NDMF acts as a guide to all stakeholders and all jurisdictions on matters relating to DRM/DRR. As part of its institutional effort in policy improvement and activities, NEMA has developed a number of plans to facilitate DRM/DRR activities in Nigeria. Among them is the Search and Rescue and Epidemic Evacuation Plan (SAREEP) for Nigeria.

Search and Rescue and Epidemic Evacuation Plan (SAREEP)

In 2008, SAREEP was developed to cover disasters that could be triggered by hazards such as flood, fire, building collapse, road traffic, rail, maritime, aviation, oil spill, and epidemics. A plan for responding to terror attacks was added in 2010 due to increasing terrorist activities in Nigeria. The plan specified the role and functions and responsibilities of various tiers and agencies of government, as well as NGOs, during search and rescue operations in different disaster scenarios across the country. The document contains lists of equipment and resources for search and rescue operations (SAR). The objectives of the plan are the coordination and mobilization of the resources of the government and non-governmental agencies to save lives and property, minimize damage to the environment and infrastructure, prevent the escalation of disaster incidents, restore normalcy as soon as possible, and relieve the suffering of the victims of the disaster. Organizations considered relevant to emergency management were systematically categorized to fit into the different levels of response where their expertise would be maximized. The authorities for the design and implementation of the plan include: the Armed Forces, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, Fire Service, Police, Federal Road Safety Corp., National Airspace Management Agency, Nigeria Railway, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, Nigeria Maritime and Safety Agency, Merchant Shipping Agency, Nigerian Port Authority, Nigeria Inland Water Authority, Nigeria Meteorological Agency, Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigerian Red Cross Society, and NEMA. To put this plan into operation, each agency is to facilitate capacity building with other agencies. Examples include the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NOA (Nigerian Orientation Agency), NESREA, and NEMA, and the 2012 guidelines for the use of military assets and personnel during disasters.

International Collaboration for Hazards Governance in Nigeria

In 2012, a Disaster Risk Reduction Capacity Assessment (DRR/CA) was conducted in Nigeria through an inter-agency approach that involved UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), FAO, UNPA (United Natural Products Alliance), and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA). The methods and tools used for the assessment were developed by CADRI and have been used in many countries in Africa including Ghana, Gambia, Mali, and Madagascar. CADRI is a joint UNDP, UNISDR, and UN-OCHA initiative aimed at capacity development for DRR at global, regional, and local levels in line with the HFA (2005–2015). The Capacity Assessment (CA) was aimed at identifying gaps in DRR in Nigeria and finding ways to engage fully in preventing, mitigating, and reducing natural disaster risks.

The focus was mainly on Priorities 1–4 of the HFA and complemented the 2012 assessment. It is expected to carry out the following activities:

  1. 1. Simulation exercises twice a year by each organization, with at least one joint simulation exercise with other stakeholders;

  2. 2. Seminars, workshops, and meetings organized at least quarterly;

  3. 3. Programs on public education developed and disseminated widely.

NEMA, in collaboration with the National Communication Commission (NCC), provides a platform for communication among the stakeholders. The plan further sets out deployment procedures and a National Incident Management System, with ad-hoc emergency management teams that coordinate the efforts of two or more agencies under unified command. They also developed an alerting system, incident command structure, and operations for various disasters.

Other Local Policies and Legal Frameworks for DRR/DRM

There are other regulatory/legal mechanisms as well as policies in Nigeria to facilitate DRM. These include the National Disaster Response Plan (2001), the Integrated Plan (2007), the National Contingency Plan on Infrastructural Resuscitation (2010), the National Contingency Plan (2012), and NEMA standard operating procedures (SOPs). NEMA has also developed other agreements for preparedness and response under UN-OCHA.

The DRR/CA focused on five technical areas of capacity development, namely ownership, institutional arrangement, competency, tools and resources, and relationships/coordination in the four priorities. The gaps identified showed that there was no DRR legislation at the national level, and that the DRR Action Plan developed in 2006 was not being implemented as intended. Although much effort was being made at the federal level through NEMA, DRR was yet to be taken as a national priority. The fund allocated for the program was small compared with the demand for DRR. Efforts including funding are being channeled to disaster response rather than prevention and mitigation of hazards and risks. From all indications, it appears that NEMA is in regular contact with federal ministries, but that no focal point has been established for DRR in the ministries. There is also a weak link between NEMA and SEMAs at the state level, leading to an unhealthy rivalry. The staff of SEMAs and state ministries have had no training on DRR and there is no platform for meetings between stakeholders engaged in DRR activities at the state level.

The relationships between the local government authorities and SEMAs/NEMA are not formalized, as more technical support and expertise are needed at the local level to aid the activities of LEMCs where they exist.

Under priority 2, the assessment showed that there was no systematic, automated process for distributing early warning alerts. Early warning or predictions by NIMET were rarely understood by the locals. Priority 3 addressed the issue of mainstreaming DRR awareness activities in the educational curricula. Much needs to be done in this area, including training teachers, as there are no DRR training programs in existence for state officials. Priority 4 centered on underlying risk factors and key environmental problems. Efforts are being made on climate change adaptation (CCA), but monitoring personnel are inadequate.

Emergency Preparedness and Response Assessment

Many first responder agencies across the country do not have the capacity to respond to disaster risks due to lack of capacity in terms of manpower and equipment, and as a result the burden falls on NEMA. Because of the enormity of the problems, NEMA has had to solicit the assistance of the UN to address the capacity gap for disaster response, preparedness, and humanitarian intervention. The National Contingency Plan UN-OCHA and its partners had to deploy a technical mission to Nigeria to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) capacity of NEMA and its key government stakeholders. The assessment focus of priority 5 was to strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels (UNISDR, 2015). The key areas focused on were the organizational structure and functionality for DR at national, state and local levels; DRR mainstreaming at all levels; the legal framework for DRM/DRR at state and local levels; and multi-stakeholder contingency planning for key services, responsibility or key stakeholders including emergency service, police, military in care of major emergencies.

In the Fire Service, capacity assessment showed that the structures had no minimum requirement for operations, coupled with inadequate training of fire fighters. The SOPs and other operational requirements for the training of fire fighters were inadequate. The NEMA GIS laboratory had inadequate GIS software and information technology (IT) infrastructure, and was engaged in very limited activities on response and preparedness.

Civil Society Organizations and the Private Sector in Hazards Governance in Nigeria

In its effort to create public awareness in DRR and emergency response, NEMA is collaborating with non-governmental organizations in DM. The agencies include the National Societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Boy Scouts, Girls Brigade, and Doctors without Borders. It has also created the Emergency Management Vanguard in partnership with the National Youth Service Corps, and the Grassroots Emergency Volunteer Corps at the community level.

These NGOs and volunteer groups are trained in areas such as building shelters for displaced people, distribution of food, water, materials, camp sanitation, orderliness, and security. Their training includes first aid, disaster preparedness, and response, as well as contingency planning.


Nigeria, like many other nations, is exposed to natural hazards, the most prominent being erosion, flooding, desertification, drought, air pollution as a result of gas flaring, heatwaves, deforestation, and soil degradation due to oil exploration. All of these hazards have caused serious disasters across the country. In the southeast region, flooding and gully erosion have led to the displacement of communities. In the Niger Delta region, oil exploration and exploitation has destroyed the rich mangrove forests as well as the natural habitat for fish and other aquatic species and flora. In the northern part of the country, desert encroachment, deforestation, and drought have adversely affected agricultural production and threatened national food security.

The federal government, through its agencies, has adopted policies and enacted laws and regulations geared towards containing the disastrous effects of natural hazards on the environment. The establishment of NESREA as the main agency responsible for the enforcement of all environmental laws, guidelines, policies, and regulations as well as the provision of international agreements, protocols, conventions, and treaties on the environment to which Nigeria is a signatory is commendable. The creation of NEMA at the national level, SEMA at the state level, and LEMC at the local government level are efforts geared towards responding to disasters arising from natural hazards across the country. The federal government has partnered or collaborated with international organizations such as the World Bank, IAEA, IFAD, CIDR, UNEP, UNIDO, UNHCR, Japan, China, and various NGOs to address disaster-related problems induced by natural hazards.

However, government efforts have not yielded the desired results due to inter-agency conflicts over jurisdiction and rivalry. For example, in Lagos State, SEMA officials are always at loggerheads with NEMA officials over jurisdiction on issues of rapid response and recovery during disasters. Equally, the DPR and NOSDRA have different interpretations of EGASPIN. This has led to unnecessary rivalry between the two agencies. In addition, the lack of technical manpower and capacity on disaster management is posing a serious problem. Most of the staff of the agencies lack the training and competence to respond quickly to disaster.

To ensure effective governance of natural hazards and the accompanying disasters in Nigeria, there is a need to address the management of flooding in urban, rural, and coastal areas, stabilization of gully erosion sites, and other management practices to mitigate the incidence of erosion, such as compliance with urban planning laws, and regulations as well as sanitation laws in towns as they relate to informal human settlements. There is a need for the Nigerian government to enact national policies on soil conservation, and coastal and flood control, especially in erosion-prone areas, as well as policies on air and water pollution.

NEMA should intensify its public awareness strategy as well as capacity building at the national, state, and local levels on disaster prevention and management. The approach should focus on promoting awareness of hazards reduction and DRR at the community, industry, private business, and household levels. The NEMA Act should be amended to include the Federal Ministry of Environment as well as NESREA and NOSDRA as members of the NEMA governing council. The government should increase the level of its funding to all government agencies involved in disaster management. There should be a clear synergy between all government agencies involved in disaster management to reduce inter-agency conflicts and rivalry, which have had a negative impact on disaster response capability.

Further Readings

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Fubara-Okorodudu, M. T. (2013). Managing our environment for a sustainable future: Being a National Conference paper on the Environment. House of Representatives Committee on Environment, delivered at Transcrop Hotel Abuja.Find this resource:

Igwe, C. A. (2012). Gully Erosion in Southeastern Nigeria: Role of soil properties and Environmental factors. Nsukka, Nigeria: University of Nigeria.Find this resource:

Ismail, O. S., & Umukoro, G. E. (2012). Global Impact of Gas Flaring. Energy and Power Engineering, 4(4), 290–302.Find this resource:

Obidimma, E. (2010). Gully Erosion: The silent killer in Southeastern Nigeria.

UNISDR. (2017). Reducing displacement risk in the greater Horn of Africa: A baseline for future work.

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