Sunday, August 30, 2020
Harrisburg, PA, USA

f you have ever travelled to south eastern Nigeria, and indeed most of southern Nigeria, during the rainy season, you will be amazed. Most roads are not motorable because of potholes, flooding and erosion. Flooding and erosion have now become so endemic in the south eastern states that the roads tell the story. Simple journeys that should normally take 10 minutes turn into one- or two-hour journeys. After the journey, if you were unlucky to have used a motorcycle or just walked, the muddy outlook of your clothing will always give you away. As for vehicles, after the journey, they look like they were temporarily immersed in muddy water purposely. Haba!

This issue comes closer to home to me because my hometown, Nnewi, is experiencing the same woes. There are now several erosion sites in Nnewi and during the peak of the rainy season this past July, folks sent me pictures of flooded roadways, gutters filled with stagnant water, people driving and walking around mud filled pothole laden road ways. The situation, in some quarters, is so bad that one would be better off using boats to navigate some of the roads than vehicles or on feet.

Before the onset of the pandemic, I was billed to make a presentation at the Nnewi USA annual convention in Massachusetts on July 3. The overall theme of the convention was Uncontrolled Urbanization in Nnewi but the specific topic I chose was “To Tame flooding and Erosion, Nnewi must go back to basics. But because of the pandemic, the convention was cancelled. I prepared the presentation virtually, recorded it and it is available in the YouTube link below.

The presentation explores the genesis of flooding and erosion in Nnewi, a town located in the south eastern portion of Nigeria in West Africa. The land use practices in Nnewi and environs, in the late 60s, helped minimize or prevent flooding and erosion but as uncontrolled urbanization set in in the late 70s, after the Nigeria/Biafra war, "unplanned" construction of buildings substantially increased areas of imperviousness in the town. Having nowhere to flow to, storm water started flooding the town, eroding roads and farmlands. Of course, poor road construction and absence of gutters, made things worse.

This presentation includes pointed suggestions on better management of the landscape so that the issue of flooding, erosion and destruction of buildings, by run off, will be reduced substantially.

Although the presentation talks specifically about Nnewi, the issues are the same in almost every town in southern Nigeria. Planners, landscape designers, housing developers, architects, civil engineers, policy makers in land use planning and citizens will benefit from viewing the contents of the presentation.

The huge erosion gully at the 100- Foot road in Nnewi, shown in the pictures, have been backfilled by Anambra State government. We are now waiting for it to be tarred.

Author of the books- 1. Nigeria: Contemporary Commentaries and Essays

2. Surviving in Biafra: The Story of the Nigerian Civil War