BY: ABUBAKAR JIMOH
Over the years, landslide remains one of the major threats to lives, property, infrastructural facilities, and natural environment in various parts of Nigeria.

Landslide is a phenomenon arising from the rapid movement of large amount of soil mass over an extensive area causing serious damage to people, their environment, agricultural farms, houses, and roads. It cuts off water and power, blocks roads or leaves them in undesirable conditions.

Recently, an investigation conducted by Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI) revealed that landslide results from both natural accounts and man’s attitudes towards his environment. Among these are climate changes, intensified anthropogenic activities, growing urbanization, uncontrolled land-use, unethical agricultural practices, excessive mining, stone quarrying, logging, deforestation, over-loading slope or blocking drainage.

It is noteworthy that in a bid to protect lives and property of Nigerians from the potential dangers of landslides, the National Emergency Management (NEMA) under the leadership of Director General Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi has encouraged individuals to put in place proper land assessments to avoid erecting structures on areas prone to landslides.

YADI confirmed that the susceptibility of a given area to landslides can be determined and depicted using hazard zonation and landslide hazard map. These serves as tools to help identify land areas best suited for development by examining the potential risks of landslide.

Using geological mapping will help to detect slope hazards and determine the likelihood of landslide occurrence. In structural erections, geologists can assist engineers, developers, planners and building inspectors in avoiding the vulnerable areas. Observing these will help in proper location of structures such as homes, schools, hospitals, offices, power-lines, and roads.

Installation of drainage control or series of pipes that divert water away from unstable slopes is another option to mitigate hazards of landslides. The surface drainage controls are installed to channel. The drainage systems can be designed to channel the collected water out of the landslide zones as quickly as possible to avoid penetration of water that can cause damage to the area.

Through its sensitization campaign across the country, NEMA has urged slope prone communities to embrace innovative measures like active slope monitoring systems, local detective techniques that suite their environments in early detection of landslides.

Such local technologies in the findings of YADI include: improving surface drainage; reducing the angle of the slope; excavating to unload the top of the slope; building of protective berms to reduce erosion at the base of the slope; re-vegetation of the slope and geotechnical nailing or artificial hard covers; among others.

Afforestation practices that strengthen soil system and contour trees on steep slopes will help to create stiff vegetation, which serves as a barrier against slope. It has been observed that as these trees and shrubs grow, their roots will hold soil together, and help in reducing erosion of soil that may likely to result to landslides.

Before buying a home, check out for the sign of weak earth below the structure, and unstable walls. Obtain professional advice prior to the construction of your home. In fact, request for information and assistance from your municipal or district planner or building inspector when purchasing a land, sub-dividing, and construction applications. Such procedure helps to understand the land and environmental safety regulations underneath the use of such structure or land.

Also, individuals are advised to cultivated total discipline towards the exploitation of natural environment. We must keep environment safe from accumulated debris on a steep slope. It has been reported that small accumulations of debris becomes flooded and hasty a larger slide. Therefore, individual should avoid placing clearing debris, yard waste, or fill material on a steep slope.

Given the various experiences, the impact of landslides is amplified mostly by human activities. In this case, we must avoid disruptive modifications of ground that alter natural drainage, unless based on the recommendations of a qualified geologist or engineer.

There is the need for a critical review of the 1978 Nigerian Land Use Act. Through this, human activities such as excavation, deforestation, irrigation practices will be subjected to the permission of Municipal Authority. For instance, the British Columbia Municipal Act contains legal requirements that deal with landslides and other hazards taking into account, mandatory engineering and geo-science investigations before structure erections.

Abubakar Jimoh is the National Coordinator, Youths Against Disaster (YADI), and lives in Abuja.
abujimoh01@yahoo.com