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SPOTLIGHT: Nigerian researcher develops web app for reporting flood 

SPOTLIGHT: Nigerian researcher develops web app for reporting flood 
June 14
08:29 2021

Flooding events are fast becoming commonplace in Nigeria, particularly in recent years. This is as a result of the rise in temperature and evaporation of water from the earth which increases rainfall volume and distorts rainfall patterns. 

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In Nigeria, if you have not personally experienced a flood, you would at least know someone who has, or might have come across a particular environment that is always flooded — or you might have even seen or read about it and its devastating effects on television and in newspapers.

Most times, the reactions to these flood situations are feelings of frustration and helplessness because government intervention seems out of reach and even when there is any, the provisions are never commensurate to what was lost.

Could there be a solution?

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So what if you could report flooding events when they happen? What if you could communicate directly to the government about the area or location of the flood and even let the relevant officials know the extent of the loss?

This is exactly what Taiwo Ogunwumi, a disaster risk reduction researcher, set out to achieve with his innovation — a flood reporting tool. The researcher said he developed the web app to help Nigerians report flooding events in their localities.

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According to Ogunwumi, the goal is “to make people more prepared for flood, to reduce the major impact of flooding in the society, to support the national institution that has the goal to reduce disaster and to contribute to the scientific industry”.

How does the flood reporting platform work? 

Screenshot of the website

The online platform requires users to fill a form with useful information such as the location of the flood, its causes and level of damage.

“There is no app right now that helps people report flooding. The essence of this is that many Nigerians, even NEMA themselves, might not be able to give data of flood events for the past ten years,” Ogunwumi told TheCable. 

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However, with a reporting tool like the one he has just developed, Ogunwumi says it would help provide a database and “if you have a record of flood in a particular year, it would be pretty much easy for future research, and for future findings”.

He said the web app will also help organisations like the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) “to have a database that has flood records” and to respond adequately to the plight of the Nigerian populace. 

“Understanding the damage is very important for post-disaster and relief distribution. When the government has access to understand the impact of flooding and the human features that are being devastated, they can easily make neccessary provision,” he said.

Also embedded in the web app is a geolocation feature that makes for easy tracking of the exact location where the report was made and a feature that allows users to take pictures of the flood and the damage caused.

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A tool to facilitate faster disaster response from the government

Ogunwumi said the responses from the web app would be collated by his team, prepared into a document and presented to the relevant emergency agencies for adequate provision of “response and recovery to such locations”.

“When people submit a survey of this, it comes out as an excel file. The excel document will be shared with NEMA to support them and show them the areas where people report flooding from, the number of people and property affected by the flood.” 

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Aside from guiding the government in making adequate response provisions, Ogunwumi said the innovation would also help relevant government agencies and researchers “make future predictions of flood”.

He said his team recently received reports of a flooding event in Kwara and are expected to record more in June and July as the rains get heavier.

Although Ogunwumi says the web app is easy to use, it cannot be easily accessed by persons with no access to the internet.

The Nigeria Hydrological Agency has predicted that 28 states, including the FCT, will most likely experience flooding this year.

And with innovations such as that of Ogunwumi’s, Nigerians can easily report cases of flooding directly to the government and hope to receive prompt and timely succour.

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