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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 7 NO 2, DECEMBER, 2009

FLOODING, THE ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES: A STUDY OF OZORO, DELTA STATE

Helen O. Anie
E-mail: sylveyoz@yahoo.com

 

Abstract
The study examined the effects of flooding on the environment and socio-economic activities of the people of Ozoro kingdom. Data for this study were gathered from inhabitants of the study area, personal observation and assessment; and from secondary sources. Data collected were analysed using simple percentages. It was found that flooding in the study area has effects on their transportation system, housing, crops and farmlands which usually result in high cost of living during dry season.
Keywords: Environment; floods;hazards; economic activities


Introduction
In Nigeria natural hazards of the environment have been making front page news, with increasing frequency, wrecking havoc either on rural farmers or on urban residents. So, the need for digging deep into the impacts of floods on the environment and socio-economic activities arises.

Floods may be defined in a variety of ways according to type, origin and magnitude. The two types of phenomena so called are firstly, inundations of normally dry lands and secondly, exceptionally high rates of discharge in water course. The origin of inundations may be the breaching or overtopping of coast or drainage defenses by the flowing water or alternatively, discharges by drainage beyond their bankful capacity. According to NEST (1991), a flood is a body of water which rises to overflow land which is not normally submerged. This may result in major disasters involving structural and erosional damages, disruption of socio-economic activities, transport and communication, loss of life and property, contamination of water and the environment in general.

 Kirkby (2006) sees flood as existing when the discharge of a river or water course cannot be accommodated within the margins of its normal channel, so then water spreads over adjoining grounds on which crops or forest are able to flourish but simply put, a flood is any water in an area that is not normally submerged. 



The literature
According to Oriola (2000) whenever the stream channel in an average section is overtaxed, causing overflow on an adjacent land definitely outside the usual channel boundaries, the stream is said to have reached flood stage. He recognises six types of flood- flash floods, single event floods, multiple event floods, seasonal floods, coastal floods and estuarine floods. Flash floods are common in the city centres. A single event flood is caused by rainfall with one peak flood period and last longer than flash flood. The multiple event floods occur after long period of rainfall that comes in succession. Seasonal floods are very common in most riverine areas that are river flood plains. This is the case of the Niger Delta region, of which Ozoro is a part.

Imoroa (2003) identified flood as one type of natural hazards, as those elements in the physical environment that are harmful to men and are caused by forces extraneous to them. He linked the causes of flood to three atmospheric factors, namely rainfall excesses, snow and ice, and coastal factors. Brown and Cutchen (2000) have observed that the real cause of a flood is man. They said because of his desire to make money quickly or through his lack of understanding of the way nature works, he tries to change the normal course that water follows across the land. Man builds dams, his home and factory in areas that are known to be in danger of flooding.

In examining the effects of flooding, Akinmade (2005) opined that natural flooding is not a

problem until people choose to build their homes and other structures on flood plains. He further explained that these structures are subjected to damage and loss when inundated by floodwaters. He further stated that people have chosen to build on so many floodplains that is why flooding is the most universal natural hazards in the world.

Whitlow (1996) described floods as the commonest of the natural hazards and in recent decades have accounted for no less than 64 percent of all death tolls resulting from natural hazards. He also explained that this is the price that mankind has to pay when attempting to compete with rivers for the use of their floodplains or when building on vulnerable coastlines.

Botkin and Keller (1998) in their study of floods in United States supported the above argument when they observed that about 100 persons lose lives in floods every year and accompanying damages exceed $3billion. They noted that the 1993 flood of the Mississippi River took about 50 lives and caused over $10 billion in damages. This loss of life, although terrible is relatively low compared to areas of the world that lack sophisticated monitoring and warning systems, like the underdeveloped countries.

Despite the negative effects of flood on man and the environment enumerated above, flooding

 

indeed has been noted to have some benefits to man and also to the environment. For example in India and Bangladesh, the patterns of agricultural production are dependent upon water brought by major rivers and renewal of fertility through siltation. The existence of Egypt today is also dependent on the same reason.

Obatola (2005), describing the effects of floods on the people of the Niger Delta, said floods have a tremendous influence on the pattern of human life and economic activities in the Delta region. He observed that at present, crops like yams, cassava and maize are restricted to drier parts of this area and that yams and cassava are the main food crops grown by the natives; farming activities began around mid – December when the floods are receding. All these point to the positive effects of flood on man and the environment as well as the effects of flood on socio-economic activities. Therefore, since the effect of flood is variously perceived, the perception may not objectively depend on the severity of flood damage in its totality.

Methods
Data for this study was gathered from two main sources namely, (1) Primary source (2) Secondary source. Primary source entails information from residents of the study area and from the researcher’s personal field observation and assessment. Secondary source includes information from maps, journals, articles, bulletins and textbooks.


A total of eighty (80) questionnaires were proposed to be administered in the five selected survey areas. The breakdown is shown below:
Oramudu                     15
Oriole                          10
Uruto                           20
Etevie                          25
Erovie                          10


The number of questionnaires earmarked for the above selected survey areas is based on the size and population of the settlement as well as the severity of the flooding in that area.

Data analysis and discussion of results
The analysis of this research was done statistically to process the raw data from the field into meaningful information about the entire area of Ozoro kingdom as well as to make comparison between and among the five selected communities.


 

Table 1: Rate of response


Communities

Sampled population

Actual respondent

%

Oramudu

15

15

100

Oriole

10

10

100

Urude

20

20

100

Etevie

25

25

100

Erovie

10

10

100

Source: Fieldwork, 2008.

All of the 80 sampled population representing 100% of them returned their questionnaire answered.

Table 2: Impact on transportation and housing


Communities

No of respondents

Has the flood ever affected the road transport system?

Yes

%

No

%

No idea

%

Oramudu

15

13

87

2

13

-

-

Oriole

10

6

60

3

30

1

10

Urude

20

14

70

5

25

1

5

Etevie

25

21

84

4

16

-

-

Erovie

10

10

100

-

-

-

-

Total

80

64

80

14

18

2

3

Source: Fieldwork, 2007.


In Oramudu, 13 out of 15 respondents agreed that indeed the flood has affected the road transport system only two (2) respondents said No and this is only 13.3% of the total number of respondents. In Etevie, 21 out of the 25 respondents which amount to 84% of the total population sampled said yes, that the flood has affected the road transport system. Four (4) out of the 25 respondents interviewed said No, that flooding have no effect on the road transport system. In Erovie, a total number of 10 questionnaires were given out, it was discovered that all the 10 respondents unanimously agreed that the flood has suffered the transportation system. On a general note, table 2 above reveals that people’s perception of the impact of flooding on transportation is high.


Table 3: Perceived Impacts of Flooding on Housing


Communities

No of Respondents

Over flood the house

%

Weakens the foundation

%

Brings deposit

%

All of the above

%

No idea

%

Oramudu

15

12

13

2

13

3

20

2

13

6

40

Oriole

10

1

10

2

20

2

20

2

20

3

30

Urude

20

5

25

6

30

2

10

7

35

-

-

Etevie

25

10

40

6

24

-

-

8

32

1

4

Erovie

10

4

40

5

50

-

-

1

10

-

-

Total

80

22

28

21

26

7

9

20

25

10

13

Source: Fieldwork, 2008.


Urude, 20% of the sampled population, which accounted for five (5) out of the 20 respondents, said that flood water overflows houses. 30% said it weakens foundation. This accounts for 6 out of 20 people interviewed. Two (2) respondents which represent 10% said it brings deposits, while the remaining 35% said all of the above. In


Etevie community, 40% of the sampled population said that the flood attacks people’s houses, this 40% accounts for 10 out of the total number of 25 respondents. Six (6) respondents which represent 24% of the total population sampled said that flood water weakens foundations. 32% which accounts for 8 respondents said all of the above while one respondent which represents 4% had no idea.

None said it brings deposit. Generally, out of the eight respondents 22 which represent 27.5% of the sampled population said that flood water over flood houses. 21, which represent 21%, said it weakens foundation. 7, which represent 8.75%, said it brings deposits. 20 respondents said all the above listed factors and these 20 respondents account for 25% of the sampled population. 10 respondents which represent 13% of the total population sampled had no idea.


Table 4: Negative impact of flood and crops and farmlands


Negative
Impacts

Oramudu

Oriole

Urude

Etevie

Erovie

Total

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

Kills the crops

1

7

5

50

5

25

3

12

-

-

14

18

Make tubers of root crops to get rotten

6

40

2

20

7

35

8

32

6

60

29

36

Wash away soil nutrients

1

7

-

-

1

5

1

4

2

20

5

6

All of the above

5

33

3

30

5

25

5

20

1

10

19

24

No of response

2

13

8

32

2

10

-

-

1

10

13

16

 

80

100

Source: Fieldwork, 2008.


In table 4 above, out of the eighty (80) respondents, 13 respondents which represent 16.25% of the total population sampled did not respond as to what harmful effect the floods have on their crops and farmlands. 14 respondents which represent 17.5% of the total population sampled said it kills their crops. 36.25% of the sampled population said that the flood makes the tubers of their root crops to get rotten, this 36.25% accounts for 29 respondents. Five (5) respondents said it wash away soil nutrients. These five (5) respondents represent 6.25% of the total population sampled. The remaining 23.75%, which accounts for 19 respondents said flood inflicts all the above harm on their crops and farmlands.


Table 5: Economic impacts of residents


Economic effect on  residents

Communities

Total

Oramudu

Oriole

Urude

Etevie

Erovie

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

(A) Market prices of food items increase during flood.

2

13

2

20

3

15

6

24

7

70

20

25

(B) Market prices of food items decrease during flood.

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

4

-

-

1

 

(C) Food items become scarce and expensive in the dry season.

2

13

3

30

6

30

2

8

-

-

13

16

Combination of A and C

4

26

5

50

9

45

8

32

7

70

33

41

No of response

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

 


From table 5 above, it could be observed that 25% of the sampled population said market prices of food items increase during flood period while 16% of sampled respondents said food items become scarce and expensive in the dry season. The remaining 41% said that combination of A and C above i.e. market prices of food items increase during flood and food items become scarce and expensive in the dry season.

From the analysis, it could be decided that the floods have a tremendous effect on the economy and socio-economic activities of Ozoro residents. Food becomes very expensive and scarce during the dry season.

Conclusion and recommendation
The effects of flood hazard on the people of Ozoro and their environment as well as socio-economic activities are enormous. It is recommended that planners specify habitable and non-habitable area so as to avoid the flood hazard from affecting the lives and properties of the people. Construction of dams also should be carried out to aid the smaller creeks and streams that drain the area.

References
Akinmade, S.E. (2005): Environmental science: the habitable earth. Jos, Success Press Ltd.

Bolten, O.B. and Keller E.A. (1998): Environmental science: earth as a living planet. New York; John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Imoroa, N.O. (2003): Delta state in Udo R.K. and Mamman A.B. (eds) Nigeria: giant of the tropics. Volume 2, State Surveys. Yaba, Lagos; Gabumo Publishing Co Ltd.

Kirkby M.J. (2006): Infiltration, through flow and overland flow, InChorley R.J.(eds) Water, earth and man: a synthesis of hydrology, geomorpholgy and socio-economic geography. London; Methuen and Co Ltd.
 
Nigerian Environmental Study and Action Team(NEST)(1991): Nigeria threatened environment. Ibadan;  NEST Publication.

Obatola, G.A. (2005): “The Niger delta and its environmental hazards”. Benin City; Ethiope Publishing House.

Oriola, E.O. (2000): Flooding and flood management, Ilorin, Nigeria; Haytee Press and Publishing Co. Ltd.

Whittow, J. (1996): “Environmental hazards” in Douglas, (eds) Companion encyclopedia of geography: the environment and human kind, London; Routledge.