Storms have raged and destroyed properties unquantifiable. Lives have been lost through water-related ailments. Just as tragic, there’s no counting weather conditions that had shaken, not just climes within which they occurred, but also economies of and big businesses across countries.
Hurricane Sandy, which had hit the United States back in 2012 — raging with a sustained wind of 80 miles per hour — was not any less severe. Its impact was, no doubt, felt far and wide. Yet, there have been other surges that momentarily destabilized countries and left cities wrecked.
Like every other country, Nigeria has also had its share of extreme weather conditions, being a tropical region with seasons differing from place to place. In the southeastern part of the country, it’s hot and wet most of the year while, in the southwestern part, it is dry. The northern and western regions have the savanna climate marked for their wet and dry seasons.
Recently, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) alongside the Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA) embarked on a project seeking to support West African countries with regard to improving the forecasting of severe weather conditions. It’s understood that, if countries will take full advantage of the latest weather prediction products and satellite-based information & radar products, they will be able to respond and cope better with these conditions.
As of 2018, the WMO had signed a host country agreement with the Nigerian government for the WMO Sub-Regional Office for North Central and West Africa in Abuja. This had come years after the collection of meteorological data in Nigeria started back in 1892, although there’s still a need for improvement especially when it comes to funding. But there are other problems.
The availability of clean water in Nigeria remains a major concern, a situation that comes as a surprise considering the country’s abundant water resources. Apart from surface water which the country boasts of, much is also stored underground. It’s hence puzzling that many still don’t have enough to drink. Statistics from aid agencies reveal that only about 33 percent of Nigerians have access to clean water as of 2019.
With these numbers, it can’t be clearer that Nigeria is still somewhat lacking in the management and protection of its water resources ahead of socio-economic development and environmental sustainability projections. Despite its aim of providing water that meets the preset standards, poor regulatory; legal and institutional frameworks have constituted hindrances.
Toxic concentrations of chemicals such as pesticides and metals, waste dumped in rivers and streams, debris carried by stormwater and seepage from waste dumps have all contributed to the issue of safe water scarcity in Nigeria — polluting even the underground water.
But beyond regulatory measures; ongoing projects; and other policy related strides that might possibly be underway towards addressing these concerns, the deployment of forensic methods in ameliorating the plight of Nigeria’s teeming population is one that remains underexplored.
Through laboratory testing of samples, there’s still much to be done with regard to deploying forensics in the task of addressing what’s wrong with the country’s waters such that some of them are unfit for drinking. With forensic meteorology as well, Nigeria’s government could also reconstruct weather events towards working out solutions to extreme conditions.
Unlike widespread beliefs, forensic meteorologists are not only summoned when there’s a storm, flood, or other natural disasters. They can also be called to investigate conflicting situations arising from weather such as determining whether or not an inferno was caused by lightning.
It’s known that meteorologists heavily rely on technologies as well as their own deductions and measurements alongside data gathered from eyewitnesses. Hence, the prospects for forensics in water and meteorology continues to bear a glimmer of hope for Nigeria just as the global advocates continue clamouring for more strict measures against the longer-term dilemma of climate change and plastic pollution.
Where data is unavailable, perhaps because they’ve been lost in the disaster, weather models such as ADvanced CIRCulation (ADCIRC) coupled with advancements in computer processing could be used to predict tidal and storm surge. The possibilities are enormous; Nigeria can only explore.
By: Blessing Abayomi