Climate Change and Flooding in Nigeria

Impact of Climate Change on Flooding in Nigeria

The aim of this post is to examine impact of climate change on flooding in Nigeria. Moreover, we consider climate change-induced flooding and impacts/effects of flooding in Nigeria.

Flood incident in a coastal community in Ibeno, Akwa-Ibom State, Nigeria

Flooding in Nigeria

Flooding has become a significant threat in many countries of the world because of the loss of lives and properties associated with it, as well as diseases that arise from flooding. Flooding in Nigeria has now become a major issue after the 2012 overflow of Cameroon dam into most of the States in the country. The effects of flooding in Nigeria are often devastating because those in flood affected communities lose their loved ones, alongside decimated crops arising from uncontrolled flooding. In addition, the people suffer several flood-associated diseases (such as cholera, malaria etc.), lack of accommodation and inadequate food.

Climate Change and Flooding in Nigeria

To a lay man, climate change refers to change in weather conditions; however, according to the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate (IPCC), climate change is change due to varieties of natural causes and emissions resulting from scientific and technological innovations.

Flooding results from the interaction between rainfall, surface run-off, sea level, catchment size and local topography. These factors can in turn be modified by land use, urbanization, deforestation, agricultural practices, irrigation, dams and water management.

Due to global climate change, additional factors that will contribute to the risk of flooding include rising sea levels, rising sea and land surface temperatures, increasing frequency of extreme weather events, more intense tropical cyclones and larger rainfall surges.

Flooding is the most common natural disaster (both in developed and developing nations) and is expected to occur with increasing frequency.

Although rainfall is expected to decrease in some areas of Nigeria (especially northern region) due to climate change, increasing rainfall intensity and flooding risk are expected to occur in the southern region of Nigeria.

Climate change has brought about increasing temperature (global warming). Global warming and decreasing rainfall in northern parts of Nigeria are the greatest impacts of climate change. However, the increasing rainfall in southern parts of the country coupled with the rise in sea level due to global warming (expansion of the oceans as water warms) results in coastal flooding in Nigeria.

The implication is that the present sea level rise has been responsible for flooding seen in the coastal region of Nigeria, and if the sea level rise continues as projected, larger areas of the coastal region may be flooded.

Coastal settlements like Bonny, Ibeno, Forcados, Eket, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Warri and Calabar among others that are low-lying regions would be seriously threatened by further rise of sea-level.

The sea incursion due to sea-level rise means salt-water intrusion into the fresh water, invasion and destruction of mangrove ecosystems, coastal wetlands and coastal beaches. The worst impact is displacement of people which may result in communal crisis.

The coastal flooding with their associated population displacement are currently major environmental problems in Nembe, Eket and other coastal settlements in Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Cross River, Rivers, and Lagos States of Nigeria.

Available reports indicate that a metre rise in sea level will displace about 14 million people from the coastal areas of Nigeria.

Thus, one of the effects of climate change is flooding especially across coastal areas in Nigeria. Other effects of climate change are global warming, sea level rise, ozone depletion, deforestation, air pollution, loss of biodiversity, etc. These environmental problems in turn affect the existence in human environment.

In summary, climate change has become a major cause of flooding, worldwide in general, and Nigeria in particular. A flood can result from a combination of heavy rainfall causing river, sea level rise, and oceans overflowing their banks. Floods generally develop when there is too much rainwater to fit in the rivers and water spreads over the land next to it. In Nigeria, climate change has been responsible for sea over flow into the coastal areas, especially when the climate change is a combination of heavy rainfall, and sea water rise. This seems the situation in most States in Nigeria, especially coastal areas in the Niger Delta where most communities live on plain land below the sea level.

Effects of Flooding in Nigeria

The effects of flooding are devastating and include the following:

1. Displacement of coastal communities in Nigeria

2. Disturbance of agricultural activities

3. Coastal erosion, beach loss and related decline in tourism

The 2012 flooding affected 33 out of the 36 States of Nigeria, for which lives and properties as well as agricultural produce were also lost. Bayelsa and Delta States were worst hit, followed by Rivers State.

Health Effects of Flooding:

Flooding is associated with water borne diseases, especially if it is large flow with debris into homes of people. Consequently, people in flood areas are usually infected with fever, cholera, dysentery, diarrhoea and other diseases, due to their contact with contaminated drinking-water and waste water facilities, as well as vector-borne diseases arising from flooding.

Furthermore, floods can potentially increase the transmission of the following communicable diseases: water-borne diseases, such as typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis and hepatitis A: vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue and dengue haemorrhagic  fever, yellow fever, and West Nile Fever.


From the foregoing, flooding is a major threat to coastal settlements in Nigeria. Some of the effects of flooding include loss of lives and property, displacement of people and disease outbreak.


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