Harnessing GIS for Disaster Risk Reduction: A Case Study of Nigeria


Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, faces a range of natural and human-made disasters that pose significant threats to its people, infrastructure, and environment. Leveraging Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in disaster risk reduction has become increasingly vital for Nigeria. This case study explores how GIS technology is applied to mitigate disaster risks, enhance preparedness, and respond effectively to disasters in the Nigerian context.

Nigeria’s Disaster Landscape

Nigeria is vulnerable to a variety of disasters, including:

  1. Flooding: Nigeria experiences annual flooding, particularly during the rainy season. Riverine and urban areas are at high risk, leading to displacement, property damage, and economic losses.
  2. Epidemics: Disease outbreaks, such as cholera and Lassa fever, frequently occur. Timely tracking and response are critical to containing these epidemics.
  3. Conflict and Insecurity: The country grapples with communal clashes, insurgency, and inter-ethnic tensions, leading to displacement, destruction, and disruptions in livelihoods.
  4. Desertification: Northern Nigeria faces desertification challenges, impacting agriculture and food security.

Applications of GIS and ESRI Disaster Response Program

ESRI provides vital assistance for disaster and crisis response through GIS technology. Esri’s Disaster Response Program (DRP) is a cornerstone of our corporate responsibility, dedicated to aiding organizations in their response to global disasters and crises. When the capacity of an organization is overwhelmed, we step in to support their response efforts with our GIS technology and disaster response expertise.

In times of urgency, Esri offers rapid assistance by furnishing essential data, software, adaptable applications, and technical guidance for your emergency GIS operations. Our commitment is to ensure that you receive the necessary assistance to comprehend the situation, make informed decisions, and execute more effective responses when facing a crisis.

Specific application areas

  1. Flood Risk Mapping: GIS is used to map flood-prone areas, assess vulnerability, and plan for flood mitigation measures. Real-time data from weather stations and river gauges inform flood early warning systems.
  2. Epidemic Monitoring: GIS assists in tracking disease outbreaks by mapping cases, identifying hotspots, and guiding the deployment of healthcare resources to affected areas.
  3. Conflict Analysis: GIS is employed to analyze conflict dynamics, track displacement patterns, and identify areas at risk. It supports conflict resolution efforts and humanitarian interventions.
  4. Desertification Monitoring: GIS technology aids in monitoring land degradation, enabling better land-use planning and reforestation initiatives.

Case Studies

  1. Flood Risk Reduction in Lagos: Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub, is prone to flooding. The Lagos State Government utilizes GIS for flood risk assessment, urban planning, and drainage system maintenance. This technology helps identify vulnerable areas, plan flood-resistant infrastructure, and improve emergency response.
  2. Disease Surveillance in Nigeria: The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) uses GIS for disease surveillance and outbreak response. GIS maps track the spread of diseases, enabling targeted vaccination campaigns and resource allocation during epidemics.
  3. Conflict Mapping in the Niger Delta and Northern Nigeria: The two regions has faced persistent conflict. GIS has been employed to map conflict incidents, assess displacement patterns, and support peace-building initiatives.


In Nigeria, GIS is a valuable tool in disaster risk reduction efforts. By providing accurate spatial data, facilitating early warning systems, and enabling informed decision-making, GIS technology enhances disaster preparedness and response. While challenges such as data accessibility and capacity building remain, the growing adoption of GIS in Nigeria offers hope for a more resilient and disaster-ready nation.

As Nigeria continues to grapple with various disaster challenges, the integration of GIS into disaster risk reduction strategies will be pivotal. Through partnerships, data sharing, and ongoing investments in GIS infrastructure and expertise, Nigeria can further harness the power of GIS to protect its communities and build a safer, more resilient future.