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General News of Sunday, 21 February 2021

Source: Today NG

UN centre recommends use of floodwater to end herders-farmers conflict

The African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education (ARCSSTE-E) has revealed how floodwater could be used to resolve festering crises between Fulani herdsmen and farmers nationwide.

ARCSSTE-E, an affiliate of the United Nations located in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), also explained that floodwater could be collected and reserved for the purpose of farming, fishing and ranching rather than open grazing that had been at the roots of the herders-farmers crisis.

The Executive Director of the centre, Dr. Ganiyu Agbaje recommended this approach at the opening ceremony of the Online Regional Training on Flood Monitoring and Forecasting Modelling in Abuja recently.

Speaking at the workshop, Agbaje urged the federal government “to take advantage of flood water for improved farming and ranching of livestock. The use of new technology will make it easier to predict floods and locate the people who are really affected.”

He said with satellite technology, floodwater “can be harnessed for farming, ranching and others. It can be used for farming and even fishing, if you study the way the fish move, there is always migration.

“River Niger is coming from Fouta Djallon. It moves through many countries down to Nigeria. When you know that the flood will take 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.

“If you study the migration of fish, some fishes can be coming from Burkina Faso, maybe their fingerlings. You can gather them, put them in a fish pond here.

“There are so many things that can be done with flood water. 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, why do you need to move your animals. If you have a ranch there, when the water is coming, you will channel it and go and store it somewhere to be used.

“You can purify the water and it becomes drinking water, so why are we not using the flood water to make life easier? For Nigeria to reach her potential in agriculture and control destruction from flood, there is the need to accurately forecast and monitor floods.”

The executive director, also, observed that there was an urgent need to identify flood hotspot areas in order to make a quick flood damage assessment using satellite technology.

If Nigeria could join forces with West African states to adopt satellite technology in better predicting environmental patterns, Agbaje noted that it would help to mitigate flood, which has destroyed several million dollars worth of farmlands and property.

He said the training would equip participants with skills and requisite tools “to enable them to identify flood-hotspot areas in order to make a quick flood damage assessment, identify flood monitoring and forecast models as well as hydrological and hydraulic modelling.”

In order to sustain the successes of the project, Agbaje advised governments to further embrace technology for creative solutions and consider stronger laws to control the indiscriminate dumping of refuse which is a major cause of flooding in Africa.

He said: “Human beings are somehow meant to be unruly. So, society needs to be guided by the 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.

“The whole of Netherlands is on a flooded lane but they use engineering and other means to ensure that they stay afloat most of the time. We have millions of dollars lost 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.”

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.

In their separate goodwill messages, representatives of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the training is aimed at building the capacity of stakeholders to better utilise satellite technology in providing accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment.

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