Nigerians have expressed concern over the recent rise in weather temperature across the country resulting to a spate of heat wave.
Health experts across the country have attributed the noticeable increase of cases of fatigue, headache, rashes and dehydration among the citizens to heat wave.
According to the findings of a recent survey carried out early this month by NOIPolls Limited, and released in Abuja on Tuesday, 94 per cent of the respondents attested to a recent change in temperature in their locality, while 80 per cent cited ‘increase in heat’ as the major noticeable change in weather.
The survey results revealed that 94 per cent of respondents, which cut across gender, geo-political zones and age groups, experienced a change in temperature in their localities.
Residents from the Northern region accounted for the largest proportion of Nigerians who experienced change in temperature in recent times. On the other hand, a meager six per cent responded negatively to this statement.
The finding, according to the poll agency, was in line with recent weather forecasts by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) with temperature forecasts as high as 42°C in some parts of the country.
Subsequently, in ascertaining the exact kind of temperature change experienced, 80 per cent of respondents highlighted increase in heat and the North-East zone accounted for the largest proportion of Nigerians in this category.
This further supported the statement by the NIMET Director General that rainfall season this year would be characterised by late onset, especially in the Northern parts of the country.
This is as 15 per cent of respondents specified that they experienced extremely hot temperature lately and 22 per cent in the South-West zone and 21 per cent in North-Central zone had the highest percentage of respondents in this category.
On the other hand, five per cent of respondents claimed that they experienced a low temperature in their localities and residents from the South-South zone accounted for the largest proportion of Nigerians in this group.
It stressed that 30 per cent of Nigerians cited tiredness/fatigue, 29 per cent headache, 24 per cent rashes, and 21 per cent ‘dehydration’ among others as the obvious effects of this change in weather.
However, medical experts have warned that extreme exposure to high temperatures can lead to serious health implications and even death, especially among children and the aged.
The experts attributed the recent deaths of 20 children in Eti-Osa area of Lagos State to measles and meningitis caused by excessive heat, with other deaths recorded in Benue, Niger, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, and Kebbi states, among others.
The survey stated that while Nigerians were mindful of some of the effects of high temperatures, they are also knowledgeable of some measures for managing the heat wave.
It stated that as much as 44 per cent of the respondents were of the opinion that the frequent use of an air conditioner or fan could be a way of managing the heat wave.
Also, 28 per cent of the respondents identified keeping rooms well ventilated at night, 27 per cent identified drinking a lot of water, and 11 per cent bathing regularly with cold water as other ways of managing the heat wave.
These responses, the survey report stated, are in line with Dr. Eddie Wolff’s report on how to manage high temperatures.
However, it noted that when the issue of awareness was assessed, only two in 10 Nigerians showed awareness of the recent warning communicated by NIMET on expected change in weather temperature.
The survey showed a gap in sensitisation and enlightenment of the public, hence there is need for public agencies responsible for climate change and other environmental issues in Nigeria to rise up to the responsibility of sensitising the people on the implications for the public and agricultural sector.
It also urged such organisation to mitigate the negative impact of the change, especially in public areas such as schools, market places and religious gatherings.
The report stressed that global warming has steadily been a topical issue the world over. Thus it is not a surprise that Nigeria as part of the global environment would experience the effects of global warming and climate change as experienced in other parts of the globe.
The NOI Poll report stated that the recent increase in heat as attested to by a majority of Nigerians in what is supposed to be a time for rains, is a major index of the growth rate of global warming, with temperatures climbing to as high as 40°C in some parts of the country.
For some time now, Nigeria has been experiencing an unusually excruciating hot weather, with a sprinkling of rainfalls, which can be ascribed to the supposed transition from the dry season to the rainy season peculiar to the month of March.
This could also be attributed to the global average air temperature of the earth hitting 1°C hotter than it was at the start of the twentieth century.
This rise in temperature is not only typical to Nigeria as 11 people died in Cape Town in South Africa and during the summer heat wave in Northern France in August 2003. High temperatures during the day and night for a period of three weeks killed 15,000 people and the majority was older people. According to statistics, there were over 2,000 deaths in England in the same year.
The report warned that overcrowding, stagnant atmospheric conditions, over exposure to heat and over exercising are some factors that will expose a human being to the effects of heat, while people living in urban areas are more likely to experience hotter conditions than those residing in rural areas because of over-population and deforestation.
It added that some effects of heat as dehydration impairs both the physical and mental performance of humans, others like fatigue and stress causes depletion of blood flow, which may lead to hypertension and high blood pressure.
Heat has also been known to cause convulsions in children and meningitis and could lead to death.
The Nigerian Meteorological Agencies (NIMET), a Federal Government agency charged with issuing weather (and climate) forecasts, had advised Nigerians to prepare for a future with more hot days, warm nights and heat waves.
Thus, Nigeria being a tropical country, there still exists a dire need for smart adaptation strategies and engaging in climate resilient practices to cope with the damage that the change in temperature might cause.
The report stressed that despite the prevalence of these heat waves, temperature levels are bound to differ across different times of the day. Thus, findings revealed that 53 per cent of Nigerians affirmed that they experienced changes in temperature during the day and 66 per cent of residents from the North-East zone have the largest fraction of Nigerians who experienced change in temperature during the day.
This, it added, is consistent with the findings of Peter Akpodiogaga, which revealed that increasing temperature and decreasing rainfall in the North East region is as a result of the expansion of the Sahara Desert located close to this region.
This is followed closely by 42 per cent of the respondents who said they experience temperature change mostly at night.
Other findings show that eight per cent of the respondents experience these changes in the morning, while, another eight per cent stated that they experience change in temperature throughout the day.