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Monday, September 25, 2023

Restoring hope to flood communities through shoreline reclamation

Flooding across the country over the years has led to loss of lives, dislodged humans, pets and wild animals as well as caused destruction of properties and farmlands estimated at billions of naira.

Bayelsa flood
A flooded Igbogene Community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State

In 2022, Bayelsa was one of the hardest hit states with no fewer than 300 communities submerged thereby forcing the residents to take refuge in makeshift camps.

The flood which started in September destroyed farmlands, social amenities and infrastructure as it did in many other parts of the country.

Leaders of most flood prone communities in the state had tried their possible best over the years to reclaim their ancestral lands and sustain their livelihood all to no avail.

However, succour has come the way of Emadike community in Ogbia Local Government Area and parts of Tombia community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state as the Federal Government through the Ecological Project (EPO) has successfully ended flooding the areas.

The EPO interventions are entitled: “Shoreline protection and reclamation work for Emadike phase I’’ and “The Shoreline Protection of Tombia and Agudama communities in Yenagoa Local Government Area’’.

The Permanent Secretary, EPO, Shehu Ibrahim, at the inspection of the projects said the intervention at Emadike was aimed at reclaiming 16 hectres of land and 850 metres shoreline protection; while the specification for Tombia is 800 metres shoreline protection of River Nun.

Emadike project which has duration of 15 months commenced in July 2020.

The permanent secretary said that the perennial floods which had taken its toll on the community and its surroundings over the years came to an end in 2022 with the execution of the project.

Ibrahim said the scope of the intervention included 850 metres shoreline protection, using the sheet pile method to tackle ocean surge and a 16-hectare land reclamation using sand filling to stop the flood erosion.

He said the intervention was geared towards the provision of lands for residential, infrastructure development and ancillary facilities encourage positive migration and family bonding.

“At least 80 per cent of natives of Emanike will have land for residential homes while over 30 per cent shoreline will be protected from coastal erosion

“Through the execution of the project in Emadike, the community is now a safe haven for shelter to neighbouring communities during the rainy seasons.

“I am also impressed with how the community organised itself in terms of having the youth and vigilante vanguards to maintain and secure the facility,’’ he said.

Dr Eruani Azibapu, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Azikel Group, the contractor of Shoreline Protection and Reclamation Project at Emadike, said the project addressed two significant areas of protecting the community’s coastal borders; and preventing flooding.

“Emadike project is a testament of a project that is sited, executed, visited and being put to use. The community is very grateful to the Federal Government and EPO for the intervention.

“The project is the realisation of my late father’s dream who during his lifetime tried to address the flooding challenge and reclaim our land.

“My father, the then Chief of Emadike, had tried in vain to protect the community from the menace of flooding,” he said.

The Azikel group president said executing the project was challenging but it is worth the pains due to its relevance to the community and other neighbouring communities.

He said that when the nearly the entire Bayelsa was submerged by flood in 2022, Emadike stood out and served as temporary shelter for no fewer than 18 neighbouring communities.

Mr Ebipamowe Wodu of Toru-Ebi Konsult said the intervention has flooding in the community, enhanced economic and social activities, and reduced negative migration of the people due to shortage of lands.

According to him, it has improved standard of living and quality of life and reduced rural–urban migration by 50 per cent in the community.

Also, Mr Graham Ipigansi, a resident of the community and former House of Representatives member, said that the community survived 2022 flood due to the reclamation and shoreline protection works.

“I call this a pilot project in the Niger Delta because during the 2022 flood disaster, all the neighbouring communities came here to take refuge being the only community that was not submerged by water in the whole of Bayelsa,” he said.

Similarly, another resident of the area, Mr Johnson Jeremia, who thanked Buhari for the intervention, said it has gone a long way in saving the residents from hazards associated with flooding.

One of the residents, Okpoffaa Julius, observed that prior to the project flood had ravaged the community rendering many people homeless and destroying farmlands.

“Since the commencement of this project in year 2022, we have believed that God has finally answered our prayers,” he said.

Chief Patrick Ikpaikpai, a community leader, commended the Federal Government for the intervention.

The success story in Bayelsa indicates that with commitment and concerted efforts flood ravaged communities can be saved from the menace.

It is also indicates that shorelines can be reclaimed with positive effects on the economic and social lives of riverine areas.

By Felicia Imohimi, News Agency of Nigeria

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