Saturday, 3 September 2011

Climate Change - North and South

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change defines an extreme weather event as an event that is rare at a particular place and time of year. The frequency of extreme weather events has already increased and is expected to increase further.  Examples of extreme weather events are intense rainfall, and heat-waves.  The UK has experienced extreme rainfall recently in Gloucester, Hull, Lake District as well as Bournemouth and Poole.  There were around 2000 deaths in the UK as a result of the 2003 heat-wave. 


Few British people have however died as a result of flooding, the Department of Health report – Health effects of climate change in the UK, 2008, states 8 deaths from flooding since 2001, it acknowledges an as yet undefined link to disease, indirect mortality, water-borne disease and mental health problems. 

In Bournemouth, my home town, on Thursday 18th August, a month's rain fell in six hours, resulting in wide spread flooding, disruption of services, water likely contaminated by waste and sewage pouring onto the streets, and the beach and no doubt for a few into their homes.  My Nigerian colleagues were surprised that this could happen in the UK.
Source: Daily Mail
Then just eight days later, Friday 26th August, heavy rain fell in Ibadan, buildings collapsed, bridges collapsed, a dam overflowed, whole families were swept away the death toll is now 120, the events of Bournemouth seem rather minor.
Source: BBC
Of course, I feel for those in Britain whose homes and gardens have been flooded, but they are alive.  I also am angry about what happened in Ibadan, what is the difference, water is water after all? 
I have discussed this irony with my colleagues, and I believe many things contribute to this circumstance.
1.    Urban migration. 
2.    Poverty – resulting in poorly built buildings, ie people taking short-cuts
3.    Lack of planning – and ability to just put up a building anywhere (bear in mind Ibadan is an enormous densely populated city not a village)
4.    Poor infrastructure and enforcement – therefore lack of implementation of building regulations etc
5.    Blocked drains – plastic, rubbish, what a terrible thing to lead to loss of life.
6.    Corruption of course, contributes to all the above.

This is not an attack on Oyo State government, more an observation, in their defence Ibadan is an enormous city that I imagine is experiencing rapid population growth and inward migration from surrounding rural areas. 

Oyo State government are apparently taking action to clear drains, and properties that have been built in places that water should flow.  Nationally and in Lagos, the organisation I am working for NEST is supporting government to develop Adaptation Strategies.  
Sources

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