Albert Einstein said: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Every year, Lagos and Lagosians are reminded that the city is a huge slum thanks to the annual flooding. Yet, year in, year out, there are no large scale visible concrete steps to address the issue across the City though there are pockets of improvement in Victoria Island where some drainage channels have been constructed The 2011 flooding was seen as the beginning of the end but the rains had not begun with Lagos. This also occurred in 2012, 2013 , 2014and has begun in 2015. Immediate impact of the floods include:
- loss of property
- loss of productivity and labour as people cannot get to their workplaces and even when they do cannot be productivity as they had to wade through water
- Inability of businesses to operate
- Annual contributions to mechanics for vehicle repairs
- Health issues arising from mosquitos, walking/ swimming in unsafe water especially for slum residents
- Loss of lives
The annual flooding is worsened by the presence of potholes on roads, absence of drainages, open sewers and drains (this poses a health risk but without the rains, it breeds mosquitoes and with rains humans can fall into them and rain water is not discharged. Considering the high incidence and death rates that result from Malaria and other water borne diseases, addressing this issue should be a top priority for the government. The effects of climate change provides a strong motive for the government to look into this issue
What can be done?
Lagos State government has identified the issues that cause flooding. One of those -the coastal features of the city- cannot be changed. The focus should move to addressing the issues by:
1) the construction of strong and durable roads with drainage channels
2) Provision of manhole covers for drains on public roads and property and enforcement on the use of manholes for private properties
3) Sensitization of residents on the importance of not blocking drains with dirt and debris and the enforcement of strong penalties for offenders
Every year, residents are advised to relocate from flood prone areas without the provision of alternatives. For slum dwellers and residents who struggle to get by, the advise is not feasible. Government can assist prevent and mitigate the effects of flooding by providing temporary housing for potential residents that may be affected or address the factors that would exacerbate flooding if it occurs . The State government has had sixteen years to prioritize and solve the flooding challenge the City faces. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.