The recent decision to release a significant amount of water from Cameroon’s Lagdo Dam has raised alarm bells regarding potential flood disasters in states located along Nigeria’s Benue River route. Numerous regions are now urging residents in flood-prone areas to temporarily evacuate to ensure their safety.
With the aim of minimizing loss of life and property, states that are at risk have issued appeals to residents residing in vulnerable communities to relocate temporarily. The National Emergency Management Agency has pinpointed 11 states that could be adversely impacted by the dam’s water release: Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, and Cross River.
The affected states issued advisories on Sunday, urging residents to vacate the areas in order to prevent harm and damage. The alert was triggered by Cameroon’s communication to the Nigerian Federal Government, notifying them of the impending release of water from the Lagdo Dam.
In a letter dated August 21, 2023, Umar Salisu, the African Affairs Director at Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, conveyed this information to the National Emergency Management Agency. The letter highlighted Cameroon’s decision to open the floodgates due to heavy rainfall in the dam’s catchment area in Northern Cameroon.
The letter reassured that the water release would be carefully managed. Authorities at the Lagdo Dam intend to gradually release water in controlled quantities to mitigate potential harm along the Benue River basin, spanning both Cameroon and Nigeria. The letter called for proactive measures by the agency to minimize damage and cautioned residents in affected areas to stay vigilant and take necessary precautions.
The Lagdo Dam, situated 50 kilometers south of Garoua, releases substantial volumes of water during periods of overflowing, often leading to downstream flooding in various Nigerian states.
In response, some states have confirmed plans to dismantle structures near waterways. Furthermore, certain schools in several states have been designated as shelters for internally displaced individuals.
Officials from the National Emergency Management Agency and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency emphasized that while immediate alarm might not be warranted, the states in the path of the Benue River—Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, and Cross River—are expected to feel the effects of the Lagdo Dam’s water release.