Climate change is a global crisis which will affect every country on earth, though some countries are going to feel its influence sooner than others. One of those such countries is Nigeria. Nigeria's climate vulnerability is especially concerning when one considers the fact that Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, and the capital, Lagos, is one of the biggest cities on the continent. Lagos is a coastal city and the economic powerhouse of Nigeria, accounting for a third of the country's entire GDP in 2017.
Lagos's economy is severely threatened by climate change. Because it is a coastal city, rising sea levels are likely to cause erosion and contaminate potable water. This can damage the country's fishing industry, furthering Nigeria's poverty problems.
Lagos Already Feeling Effects of Climate Change
Lagos and other coastal cities in Nigeria are already feeling the effects of climate change: in August 2017, Lagos experienced heavy rains that wreaked havoc on the city. Lagos was severely flooded, halting operations across the city. Unfortunately, it is only expected to get worse. Even though there are fewer rainy days, the amount of rain per season has not changed. This means that when it does rain, the chance of flooding is considerably higher.
Rain is not the only condition causing extreme flooding. Infrastructure also contributes. In the 2017 flood, the Lagdo Dam, in nearby Cameroon, released excess water exacerbating the damage. With the Lagos population predicted to double in the next 15 years, there will be further strain on current infrastructure, further complicating challenges.
The population boom creates an additional problem: most of the country relies on fish caught in the Atlantic ocean by artisanal fishermen. As temperatures increase, fish begin to migrate north to cooler temperatures, making it harder for local fishing vessels to catch fish. Climate change is directly affecting these fishing villages, impacting the livelihood of small fishers, and putting their ability to catch and feed the nation in question. Pollution from oil companies also impacts the fishing industry on Nigeria's coasts. Relaxed environmental standards have allowed oil companies to skirt regulations, which result in oil spills. The spills have caused a decrease in specific fish populations, making it harder for fishermen to do their job.
In an attempt to combat environmental challenges, Nigeria has adopted a climate change strategy, which involves enhancing research, increasing public awareness, and strengthening national institutions to establish functional climate change governance. These changes are a step in the right direction, and with help from international partners, Nigeria may be able to mitigate their climate risks.
“Nigeria’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution,” 2015. https://www4.unfccc.int/Approved%20Nigeria's%20INDC_271115.pdf.
Okafor-Yarwood, Dr Ifesinachi. “Nigeria’s Depleting Fish Stocks May Pose a Threat to Regional Security.” The Conversation. Accessed October 21, 2019. http://theconversation.com/nigerias-depleting-fish-stocks-may-pose-a-threat-to-regional-security-105168.
Tara Law. “Climate Change Will Impact the Entire World. But These Six Places Will Face Extreme Threats.” Time. Accessed October 21, 2019. https://time.com/5687470/cities-countries-most-affected-by-climate-change/.
University, Andrew Slaughter and Nelson Odume, Rhodes. “It’s Only Just Started, Flooding Is Going to Get a Lot Worse in Nigeria.” Quartz Africa. Accessed October 21, 2019. https://qz.com/africa/1054825/climate-change-in-nigeria-floods-in-lagos-abuja-niger-delta-are-going-to-get-a-lot-worse/.