Africa's most populous city is battling floods and rising seas. It may soon be unlivable, experts warn - CNN
Aug 01, 2021 2 mins, 40 secs
The floods paralyze economic activity, at an estimated cost of around $4bn per year.

Home to more than 24 million people, Lagos, a low-lying city on Nigeria's Atlantic coast, may become uninhabitable by the end of this century as sea levels rise due to climate change, scientific projections suggest.

It is grappling with an eroding coastline that makes the city vulnerable to flooding, which Nigerian environmentalist Seyifunmi Adebote says is attributable to global warming and "human-induced action over a prolonged period."

Sand mining for construction is a major contributor to shoreline erosion in Lagos, environmental experts have said.

Manzo Ezekiel, a spokesman for Nigeria's emergency management agency (NEMA), told CNN that the riverbank of Lagos' Victoria Island is already being "washed away ...

In a study from 2012, the UK's University of Plymouth found that a sea-level rise of just 3 to 9 feet (about 1 to 3 meters) "will have a catastrophic effect on the human activities" in Nigerian coastal environments.

Adebote told CNN that Lagos' fate "would depend on how we prioritize this science prediction and what corresponding actions we take as a response." "It is only a matter of time before nature pushes back and this could be a disaster," he added.

Nigeria deadly floods

Perennial flooding in Nigeria's coastal areas has left many dead and scores displaced.

It is a problem that climate change has brought and we are living with it," Ezekiel told CNN.

Beyond Lagos' vulnerability to climate change, poor drainage systems and clogged street gutters in large swathes of the city are believed to have escalated its flooding challenges.

"As much as climate change plays a part in rising sea levels, what you can see in this video is predominantly a drainage system issue," a social media user tweeted while reacting to a video of the recent flooding in Lagos.

However, as flooding rages in some areas, low-income neighborhoods constructed on reclaimed wetlands have to contend with sinking buildings.

Keeping Lagos afloat

Adebote told CNN that for Lagos to stay afloat in the face of floods and rising sea levels, it must adapt to climate change.

"We need to look at our infrastructures -- drainage systems, waste management facilities, housing structures ...

But Adebote remarks that government responses to climate action "have been largely poor."

"There is a lot that must be done and will take consistent and deliberate actions on the parts of various stakeholders for Nigeria to properly take climate actions, especially in adapting to the impacts that are already threatening our livelihood," he added.

An environmental activist, Olumide Idowu, urged government authorities to partner with the private sector in order to boost funds to tackle the issues.

"Government should look at private sector partnerships in order for them to drive climate finance to solve the flooding issues," Idowu told CNN.

Nigeria's economy has struggled in recent years, shrinking financing for climate change and other critical sectors.

Authorities are nonetheless still pledging to ramp up the country's climate change response.

Last month, Nigeria's Ministry of Environment announced a presidential approval for a revamped national policy on climate change, aimed at addressing "most, if not all, of the challenges posed by climate change and climate vulnerability in the country," a spokesman for the ministry wrote in Twitter post.

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