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tv   France 24  LINKTV  October 18, 2022 5:30am-6:01am PDT

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tom: large parts of northeastern nigeria are underwater. hundreds of people have died in the worst flooding in a decade. and the release of water from a dam in neighboring camerin has made it worse. so what has been the government's response? this is "inside story." hello, welcome to the program. i am tom mcrae. northeastern nigeria is seeing some of its worst flooding in years. hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed and at least 500 people have died across several states. more than one million others have been displaced. many communities have been cut off and unable to reach out for help. the flooding has washed out nigeria's food growing
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regions and the niger delta. e government has issued several evacuation notices but locals say they have nowhere to go. those who survived are becoming increasingly desperate for help. we will get to our guests in a moment. first, this update from ahmad idris in southern nigeria. ahmed: here, conditions for the displaced are getting desperate. this camp accommodates hundreds of people. >> this one is not enough for 3000 people that are here. 3000 people here. ahmed: she says they have not received any relief supplies from the government. this as floods have ravaged nigeria's states, destroying
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lives, crops. hundreds of thousands of people are still out of reach. nothing has been heard from some of them in nearly a week. and the passengers of a boat that capsized a week ago, killing about 90 people, were fleeing the submerged communities in search of help. emergency agencies had warned of destructive floods this year, but the level of government preparedness was poor. so too was people's response to evacuation warnings. that has left victims like nkechi anene wondering what the future holds. there >> is nothing to go back to if my house is left standing. my animals, crops, everything is gone. ahmed: anambra is one of the worst affected states. officials say the danger signs have been there but the government has failed to act. cameroon warned about this, so we know that every 2, 3 years
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this happens. cameron will open up the dam, and then it comes here and wipes out everything. it will get to the point where the water will come and fill up the entire country. ahmed: nigerian officials say humanitarian supplies have been distributed nationwide, but that is little comfort for hundreds of thousands who are yet to receive any help from the government at any level. ahmed idris, al jazeera, otuocha . tom: as we heard, the flooding has been made worse by seasonal rain and planned water release from a dam in neighboring cameroon. lagdo dam is in northern cameroon and was built in 1982. nigeria was supposed to build its own dam to offset the excess, but never finished it. every few years, water is released from the lagdo dam and spills into the benue river. that then floods the revere and its tributaries that flood into nigeria.
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even with advance warning, the water from the dam affects 13 lead prone states in nigeria, many of which supply the rest of the country with grain and oil. let's bring in our guests now. at the namibian capital windhoek , suleiman adamu, nigeria's minister of water resources. and in abuja, david arinze. a warm welcome to both of you. just a note, we did invite one from the cameroon government to join us on the show but they declined. david, i want to start with you first of all. can you give us a bit of an idea of how bad the flooding is? david: thank you so much for having me on the show. however, it is not a pleasant experience for those who are currently in nigeria and who are experiencing the impact of the flood first and.
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i will say, i am in abuja. abuja has suffered for the past couple of weeks as a result of the flooding. you go back some kilometers away from abuja, you have several trucks with produce, livestock that are also stuck on the road. the flood has impacted significantly the transportation of goods and people from one place to another. we can also talk about the number of lives and property and houses that have been lost. the last report i read, over hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, and tens of thousands of people have lost their lives as a result of this flooding. it is really a terrible situation. it is not one that is exciting to see. i can tell you that millions of
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dollars in the forms of services, goods, and business activities have been thrown down the drain as a result of this flooding situation happening across the states, the kogi state to benue state to adamawa to delta state, rivers, bayelsa, you name it. it is significantly bad and it is not good at all. tom: seeing some of the pictures, the devastation is so widespread it is hard to believe. minister, more than 500 people are dead, over one million people displaced, many that al jazeera have spoken to have said that they simply have been forgotten about. so what is the government doing to help them? minister adamu: it is a very devastating situation and my condolences to all the people who have lost their families and
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people who have lost their loved ones and also lost their life, their belongings. it is unprecedented floods, but let me say that almost on an annual basis around march, april, we have an organization that comes out to give a forecast of the climate situation, what is expected through the year. i follow it with the annual flood outlook, where we bring out all the information on areas that are going to be flooded. where the floods have happened, it is difficult to stop flooding. but. early warning is important. but the rains this year have been so unprecedented, well above the flood situation in 2012. how we gauge it, in 2012 the
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gauge reading was about 12.84 meters. but as of october this year, it was 12.5 inches above the 2012 level. we have the disaster management, which supervises the nigerian authorities. i am sure they are doing their best. but it has been so overwhelming. the situation is not only in the basin of the niger, it is all over the country. if you take the northeast, where we have jigawa and yobe states
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the watershed, the rivers, they have also suffered. so it is all over the country. floodplains, old rivers, dead rivers have come alive. it is quite a challenge, but i am sure we will be doing the best we can between the governments. certainly the issue of managing the disaster is not under my ministry, but i am aware that the ministry are doing the best they can to provide services and alleviate some of the suffering. tom: david, do you think the government is doing enough? are people on the ground getting enough aid? david: when you look at the action the nigerian government has taken, the nigerian
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government inform nigeria about the excess of water. it is great to know. but what we fundamentally have is an infrastructure problem because if the dam that was supposed to have been built, this would cushion it. i can give you a few statistics about this dam because part of the reasons where we have this issue is when the water came from the lagdo dam from cameroon and begins to flow through the tributaries of the river benue and river niger. the dam that was supposed to be built by the nigerian government several years ago was supposed to be 2.5 times the size of the
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lagdo dam, which would have easily cushioned the affect. i tell you again, it is not just a cushion the effect of flooding, but this dam also had economic possibilities. one was it was supposed to ensure that it generates nothing less than 300 megawatts of electricity. by so doing, they show that they have support for over 150,000 hectors of farmland. you understand this is not just an infrastructure that needs to set in place to manage the issues of flooding or the excess water that comes from cameroon, but also the infrastructure that could be improved in the livelihoods of people within this region. that was the plan. it is not a question of whether reagan permission from the -- it is not about whether we get
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permission from the cameroon government. sending red alert to people who are living and going about their business, to have to leave those locations, it is not good enough. at the end of the day, when the destruction and impacts of this flooding occur, when they come back to their businesses, they now need to start from scratch. they lose their houses, they lose their businesses, they lose their properties. that is not enough. that is not a solution. red alerts are not a solution. we have a major infrastructure problem that needs to be fixed. and if it is not fixed, every year we will get a notification that this flood is going to happen, but we need to fix this infrastructure. we need to get this dam completed. we need to ensure that the economic activities as a result of this dam begin to come into play, because without getting
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this solution in place we will just be beating around the bush without taking a solution to this problem. tom: i know having researched for this program a lot of your countrymen feel the same way. i want to explain to the international audience that may not understand the region that well, in the 1980's, cameroon built a dam themselves, the lagdo dam. at the same time, nigeria was meant to build their own dam downstream, 2.5 times the size of the cameroonian dam to stop any overflow from the cameroon dam, but that has never been finished. i would like to bring in our third best from aberdeen in scotland, manu lekunze, a teaching fellow in politics and international relations at the university of aberdeen. thank you for being on the program. can you explain from a cameroon ian point of view why you think there have been so many issues
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around both the cameroon dam, but also the nigerian dam as well? manu: yes. it is good that you started by giving a little bit of background on how the infrastructure was supposed to be managed around this area. let's not kid ourselves. this issue is more than a water management issue. i know the minister has talked about the rains being unprecedented. while yes, the rains are heavier this year, all the rains and the flows of the rivers have been studied for so many years and all of this is predictable. so you have issues of poor town planning in nigeria, pour water management in nigeria, and talking about the case of cameroon, cameroon built a dam
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anticipating nigeria to respond with a dam that could manage their flow. cameroon informs nigeria of its necessity to release some of the water in the dam. nigeria does nothing. and when the floods come, as they have come, nigeria tries to use cameroon as the scapegoat. so we have to be clear that this is an issue of poor governance. as the other speaker said, this has implications on economics. if you went to build the dam as nigeria was supposed to have, it will produce electricity, which will then feed into the economy
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and the livelihoods of the people. fundamentally, this is a poor governance issue principally on the side of nigeria. tom: minister, you are in charge of water resources for nigeria. it has been* decade -- it has been four decades. why hasn't the dam been finished? minister adamu: first of all, let me say it is easy to lay all the blame on lagdo dam. but the gentleman from aberdeen was kind enough to make sure there are other issues. this is centered on the fact that we have a federal system of government, so there are response abilities for federal governments and for states. lagdo dam it is a factor, but we need so many dams.
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in addition to the dams they are talking about. when we came into this administration in 2015, there have been an effort to start the process of the planning aspect. but the planning was very poor, so we have to start again. as i am talking to you now, they are working. they have done the visibility study for us to be able to have a proper design, a proper dam project. initially, we were looking at an arrangement with some contractors who wanted to build a hydropower plant along with it, but unfortunately they said when they checked the financial model, it wouldn't work for them. we also -- this government has
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completed one of the dams. but this is a process that is going to take some time. as i am talking to you now, we have signed with several companies with hydro projects. there is also a business layout case approved. and there are quite a number of other smaller projects in addition to hopefully in the future the project that we hope will come on stream. the problem is the benue river has so many tributaries that have not been dammed, and therefore it is not only about lagdo dam. let me say that cameroonian authorities are not being truthful.
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we signed with them in 2016. they were supposed to be alerting us on a regular basis. every year, we are the agency that has to check on them. two or three years ago, they released the waters informing the nigerian authorities -- release the waters without informing the nigerian authorities. we had to write a protest letter to the authorities. this year, they released the waters in september. but that is not the way you issue it. it is not about the lagdo dam alone. the entire country has been flooded because of unprecedented rains. lagdo dam is a factor, but it is not a significant factor. let me say this, we have the rivers niger and benue, but they constitute only 20% of the freshwater flowing to the country. 80% of the rest of the flow is actually generated within the high lands or the plateaus that
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drain into the southwestern region. tom: there's a million people standing in water wondering when they will be able to get back to their homes, if at all. they don't want to play a blame game. they are just looking at the government to come up with a solution. can you give us a timeline of when the dam might be able to be finished? we know the cameroonians will continue to release water. is there a date, a timeline that you can give these people that have lost everything in these last floods? minister adamu: the dam is important, but it is not the only issue. a dam of that importance needs to be properly designed because by the time you put up a dam, chances are the water will inundate parts of camera.
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but there is more detailed engineering going on, which i commissioned. i feel that all the necessary studies need to be done so the dam does not become a problem when it is supposed to be a solution. then we have other strategies that we are looking at. river niger, for instance, starts from the mountains and crosses through five countries before coming into nigeria. so it comes through a lot of sediment. the details must have plans for the rivers niger and benue so we can introduce solutions going forward. and maybe also reclaim some areas and provide additional channels within the rivers. we feel by improving the capacity of the channels or
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rivers niger and benue, we can alleviate some of the problem. but there is not one fixed solution. it takes years when you start a program. tom: manu, we are going to go to you now just before we finish up the program. what do you make of the minister alluding to the fact that the communication from the cameroonian side has not been what it should be? manu: you could say that that is the case because, like i said earlier on, there is a degree of poor governance in this case, maybe signals are not transmitted as they should be. but what the minister is not saying, though the minister has said a lot about accepting that lagdo is a small part of all of this, what the minister perhaps
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because he is not part of his portfolio is not talking well about town planning or city planning in nigeria, how people are building on floodplains, how even nigerians buildings are not properly enforced because this is part of the flooding system. like you mentioned earlier, there are people standing in water asking what needs to be done or what could be done for them. and all of these issues have to be thought about in connection. it is not just about building dams or releasing water, but thinking about a holistic process that manages water to protect people from floods, but also to contribute to economics. and from the cameroonian side of it, they can only work on what the nigerians agree to downstream and what they can do
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in cameroon without thinking about what is happening in nigeria. both governments need an effective water management system, commission or whatever, that communicates on a weekly or daily basis to manage what is a shared water resource. but we must emphasize this is an issue where things have not been managed properly for so many years. the minister is saying all of this now. you would see that next year, there will be another flood, and another minister will come and say the exact same thing. so this is not new. you need to as the media hold the minister accountable to make sure this happens. tom: that is exactly what we try to do here on "inside story." thank you very much minister suleiman adamu, david arinze, and manu lekunze for being on "inside story." and thank you for watching.
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you can see the program again any time by visiting our website, aljazeera.com. and for further discussion, go to our facebook page. that is facebook.com/ajinsidestory. you can also join the conversation on twitter. our handle is @ajinsidestory. for me, tom mcrae, and the entire team here in doha, bye for now.
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