Cameroon Dam Opening: Cameroon’s plans to open Lagdo Dam puts Nigeria on high alert


The federal government has alerted states and relevant government agencies over plans by the Cameroonian government to open the flood gate of Lagdo Dam, on the Benue River.

The Cameroonian authorities said they will open the dam “in days ahead, due to heavy rainfall around the dam catchment area in Northern part of the country.

Affected states have advised residents in flood-prone areas to vacate these regions as a measure to minimize casualties and other flood-related disasters.

A minimum of 11 states, including Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, and Cross River, are projected to experience adverse consequences following the initiation of dam operations, as reported by officials from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

To safeguard human lives and valuable assets, these states have urged inhabitants to evacuate the potentially affected zones.

Cameroon has reportedly notified the Nigerian federal government of the impending opening of the Lagdo Dam.

Umar Salisu, Director of African Affairs at the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, communicated in a letter dated August 21, 2023, that the High Commission of Cameroon had informed the Nigerian authorities about the decision to release water from the Lagdo Dam on the Benue River due to heavy rainfall in the dam’s catchment area.

The letter emphasized the necessity of managing the released water’s impact on the River Benue basin in both countries. It clarified that the Lagdo Dam would release water in controlled, measured amounts when required.

In response to this information, several of the states at risk of dam-related flooding announced their intention to dismantle structures built near waterways. Additionally, certain schools have been designated as shelters for internally displaced individuals.

According to representatives from NEMA and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, the dam’s opening will affect 11 states along the River Benue’s course, including Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, and Cross River. They emphasized the importance of remaining calm.

State govs informed

Ezikiel Manzo, the head of NEMA’s media and public relations, said that the organization had informed state governors and provided counsel on mitigating the potential consequences of flooding.

“We have intoduced this information into all our awareness initiatives, and in addition to that, NEMA has dispatched letters to all the governors to notify them. We’ve also outlined the necessary steps they should take to alleviate the impact of the impending flood.”

This development signifies that all state governments located along the River Benue must now translate the given information into action, in anticipation of the forthcoming flood. Part of their responsibilities includes promptly monitoring individuals and communities along flood-prone areas and relocating them to safety.

“While the Lagdo Dam has just begun releasing water, we cannot predict the future conditions. If rainfall increases and water release continues, affected individuals will need to promptly vacate flood-prone zones.”

Manzo, however, clarified that “if the initial water release is not followed by significant rain, the dam operations will likely cease.” He emphasized that it’s crucial not to misinterpret the situation as requiring an immediate evacuation of the entire riverbank. Instead, people should be aware of the potential risk of riverbank overflow.

When asked to identify the states at risk, the NEMA representative indicated, “These states include Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, and Kogi. Furthermore, from Kogi downwards, we have states such as Anambra, Edo, Delta, and Bayelsa.”

‘Dam opened August 14’

The Director-General of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, Clement Nze, also confirmed the communication’s content. He acknowledged that the dam had been releasing water prior to the official letter from Cameroon.

“Yes, the letter was signed on August 21, 2023, by the African Affairs officer at the foreign affairs ministry here in Nigeria. Recently, the Adamawa State Government issued a press release which my permanent secretary brought to my attention last week, specifically on Tuesday.”

“I contacted the dam’s manager last Wednesday, and he confirmed that they initiated the dam’s release on August 14, 2023, at 10.10 am. He stated that they had been releasing water at a rate of 200 cubic meters per second, which equates to about 20 million cubic meters per day.”

Nze further explained, “The letter to the foreign affairs ministry is essentially an official declaration. However, they had already been releasing water before dispatching the letter. On Friday, they informed me that due to the substantial volume released downstream, they decided to reduce the rate to 50 cubic meters per second, around five million cubic meters per day.”

Nze clarified that the dam’s water flow doesn’t directly impact Niger, Kwara, and Kebbi states. Instead, it follows the course of the River Niger, eventually reaching Edo, Delta, Anambra, and then moving further downstream to Rivers, Bayelsa, before entering the Atlantic Ocean.