The Federal and States Governments have been urged to utilise satellite technology and other available technologies to harness disasters such as flooding to positive and economic uses.
The Executive Director, Centre for Space Science and Technology Education (CSSTE) Dr Ganiyu Agbaje, made this known in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday.
Agbaje made the call on the sidelines of the ongoing three-day Online Regional Training on Flood Monitoring and Forecasting Modelling organised specifically for Disaster Management Organisations.
”The use of new technologies will make it easy to predict flood and harness the water for many economic activities including ranching which he noted had become topical in Nigeria,” he said.
He explained that with technology such as satellite technology which the CSSTE will partner with disaster management agencies on, patterns, timing and volume of flood can be predicted early and preparation made to utilise the water.
“We need to support our rural communities on how best to use flood when it occurs because at times if it coming far away from this country, you can harness the water overflowing for many other things in agriculture.
“When you know that the flood will last for three months or five months for instance, you can use the water to plant rice, or you can gather it into a reservoir that can be used during the dry season.
“There are so many things that can be done with this, and if you know that certain places are lacking water, you can channel it to those farms that need those water.
“Like all these ranches that we have been talking about, that river is coming from the north, if you have a ranch there, when the water is coming, you will channel it and store it .
“You can purify the water and it becomes drinking water, so why are we not using the flood water to make life easier?” he queried.
Speaking on the training which held simultaneously in four other West African Countries, Agbaje, said the training is aimed at equipping participants with skills and requisite tools to enable them identify flood-hotpot areas.
He said the tool would further equip them to make quick flood damage assessment, identify flood monitoring and forecast model as well as hydrological and hydraulic modelling.
He, therefore, advised governments again to embrace technology for creative solutions and consider stronger laws to control the indiscriminate dumping of refuse which he said was a major cause of flooding in Africa.
“Human beings are somehow meant to be unruly. So, the society needs to be guided by law, else I can go to your house and just mess it up. If there are no laws to say ‘you cannot dump refuse here’ then everywhere will be messy. We need to abide by the regulations and rules.
“Also, it has been said that the whole of Netherlands is on a flood plain but they use engineering and other means to ensure that they stay afloat most of the time.
“We lose millions of dollars every year to flooding in Africa, forcing ECOWAS to make a policy on disaster risk reduction but more has to be done to ensure that the impact is lower in Nigeria and other countries,” he said.
According to him, the training is not to teach the over 300 participants who have benefitted on how to predict but to show them how to use additional satellite data make better predictions and support other methods.
He said the technology had been on for a while around the world, adding that African leaders in collaboration with the EU initiated the training to help Africa better monitor the environment and mitigate disasters.
Agbaje said that with the data, rainfall, rivers and the environment would be better monitored, adding that in the case of Nigeria, more information on the activities of River Niger would be known using the technology.
The three-day training was backed by the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) under its Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) initiative.
It was conducted by the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education (CSSTE).
On his part, the GMES & Africa Programme Coordinator at the African Union Commission, Dr Tidiane Ouattara, who joined via video conferencing, expressed joy that the activities of the CSSTE consortium was able to continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emphasising on the need for constant training of young people and experts on the African continent, he described the training as a major achievement that would help Africa to build infrastructure and reduce the economic damage of flooding.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Nigerian Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) and the Federal Ministry of Environment.
The opening session also featured goodwill messages from NIHSA, NIMET and NEMA.