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Changing weather patterns triggered by climate change had a direct negative effect on many key developmental sectors in Nigeria in 2019, according to the latest report released by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (Nimet).

The weather and climate agency said the situation was worrisome, and, if not checked, could have a direr impact on the economy and healthy living of Nigerian citizens.

The 2019 review of weather trends was contained in a document shared by NIMET in Abuja on Tuesday, at the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction.

Agriculture, Aviation, Transportation, and Health are among key developmental sectors which were affected by Intensifying heat and flooding, according to the report.

Agriculture

Nigeria practices an agricultural system highly dependent on the weather as a result of the vast natural rain-fed farming practice in the country.

According to the report, the cumulative amount of rainfall in the year 2019 was more than that of 2018.

“The one-day rainfall of more than 160mm over places such as Bauchi, Abakaliki, Calabar, Awka, Benin, Gusau, Jalingo, Lafia, Ondo and Warri between May and September resulted into flooding which submerged hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland and destroyed crops leading to huge losses”, it said.

The agency noted that flooding also reduced crop production levels for the “current season”.

“However, the later than the normal cessation of rainfall experienced over some parts of the country favoured high yield of cereals and tuber crops in these areas.”

According to the report, dry spell episode was observed over some parts of the north and central states, shortly after the onset of the rainy season.

“This led to the replanting of crop seeds in these areas, thus increasing in the cost of production and contributing negatively to agricultural activities during the critical stages of crop development and harvesting.”

Aviation and Transportation

The document said weather features such as flooding and dust haze significantly affected flight operations and the entire transportation sector.

Spells of dust haze were observed over the country in the months of January, February, March, November and December which reduced visibility to less than 500 metres over the country.

During the period, the coast and inland cities “witnessed reduction in horizontal visibility to about 200 – 900m due to early morning fog”.

“Flight operations were also disrupted due to heavy downpour, severe thunderstorms and windstorms, all these features disrupted aviation activities, causing flight delays, diversion and cancellation in places like Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt,” it said.

Also, high ways were submerged as a result of heavy rainfall and flooding in different parts of the country thereby causing road traffic accident and loss of lives and properties, in 2019.

Health

The 2019 review linked weather and climate elements to the upsurge of diseases such as Meningitis, Malaria and Cholera.

The hot season during the year was hotter than normal in most parts of the country, it noted.

“The high temperature observed in the months of February, March and April, alongside with low relative humidity and suspended dust concentration in the atmosphere favoured the outbreak of Cerebrospinal Meningitis in the country.”

The situation reports also showed that, as at June 5, a total of 914 suspected cases were reported from 15 states where 110 cases were confirmed positive for bacterial meningitis. 65 deaths were recorded.

High temperature observed in 2019 also led to measles outbreak in 660 LGAs in 36 states including the FCT, according to Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) measles situation report, as at May 18.

Meanwhile, the heavy downpour witnessed in most parts of the country resulted in flooding which contaminated the water sources thereby causing cholera outbreaks, the weather agency said.

The NCDC November Cholera Report revealed that as at October 31, a total of 1583 suspected cases, 22 deaths among suspected cases have been reported from seven states of Adamawa, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Delta, Kano, Katsina, and Plateau.

“Since the beginning of 2019, the dry and dust haze conditions that prevailed in January, February, March, November and December cause(d) respiratory diseases such as Asthma, cough, catarrh particular for the population living at the extreme northern parts of the country”.

The observed climate conditions such as above normal temperature, high rainfall, and thick vegetation covered in the year favoured the growth and survival of anopheles mosquitoes which led to high cases of malaria fever in 2019.

A malaria baseline study conducted by NCDC and WHO reported that in November, malaria burden increased by 25 per cent in Nigeria.

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