Floods
Floods

“Flood is said to occur when a body of water moves over and above an area of land which is not normally submerged. It could also be seen as the inundation of an area not normally covered with water, through a temporary rise in level of stream, river, lake or sea viewed flood as a natural consequence of stream flow in a continually changing environment,” Lekan Olofinji, an environmentalist, says on Facts about flood in Nigeria that you should know.

Floods
Floods

The sea level is rising. Natives of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, the floodplain communities, are apprehended with thoughts of relocating to safer cities following a prediction by the United Nations (UN) dictating that an estimated number of hundreds of thousands of people are prone to the effects of colossal flooding this year.

“Worldwide, there has been rapid growth in number of people killed or seriously impacted by flood disasters. Indeed, the amount of economic damages affects a large proportion of people in low-lying coastal zones or other areas at risk of flooding and extreme weather condition,” UN-Water reports, say.

In 2011, the UN-Water reports also elucidate that floods, including urban flood are seen to have triggered about half of adversities worldwide; and 84% catastrophic deaths in the world is attributed to flooding.

Four Years After

The amplification is coming four years after hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and displaced in the affected area in 2012.

In the Orashi axis of the Niger Delta, the UN agencies provide financial support to complement the efforts of the Nigerian government, due to the hazard of flooding.

“Recent events signal a clear need to refocus efforts on flood prevention, not just response,” says Jamal Saghir, the Director of the World Bank’s sustainable development department for Africa.

The UN advocates that countries concoct forceful programmes to calculate and react to floods, in order to diminish their crash by systematising “prevention, improving planning and speeding reaction times.”

The UN believes that such programmes will also help reprieve agencies, synchronize aid allocation more efficiently.

The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) at the peak of the flooding approves the sum of USD$ 6.5 Million as part of the UN support to the Government of Nigeria’s efforts to address the humanitarian needs. Over 500,000 of the flood affected people in the stiff hit states across Nigeria, the CERF supports provision of humanitarian assistance in the area of “health and nutrition, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, livelihoods, as well as the provision of basic non-food items to the most vulnerable internally displaced families.”

“With support from the World Bank/Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Reconstruction (GFDRR), the United Nations Systems, the European Union (EU) and other development partners, the Federal Government conducted a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) of the 2012 flood disaster from November to December, 2012,” say experts.

Climate Change

The international and local communities are jittered, saying that climate change derelicts havoc in Niger Delta with floods, droughts, and rise in temperature and food deficiency.

“Total rainfall in 2012 was 150 per cent above normal levels in Mali, Senegal, northern Burkina Faso and the Lake Chad basin countries of Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon.

“Rheal Drisdalle of Plan International, a children’s development organization, says that the floods burst the banks of the Niger River, which reached levels “not seen since the 1920s,” a report by the World Meteorological Organization, says.

Communities in Abia, Delta, Bayelsa, Edo, Imo States and other parts of the country are affected. The effects are swallowed buildings by flood, malnutrition, and sickness. Businesses collapse and farmers record their losses. Across the 22 states that are swallowed by the flood which comes from the water released by the neighbouring Cameroon from her Ladgo Dam, the story is the same.

While human beings record lives that have been lost in the disaster numbering hundreds of thousands, livestock in their numbers are affected and property worth billions of Naira are being destroyed, the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Report of the National Emergency Agency (NEMA), reports. Relief camps are noted in the villages and towns with individuals and organisations, and the UN donating foods and cash. Donors are sought by the UN; and the media is drenched with the news of the disaster: The flooding is one in the country in 50 years. Some 618,000 houses have been shattered. In Niger Republic, flood has killed 65 people and 125,000 others are bestowed destitute. The same fate befalls Senegal and other West African countries.

UN says of the victims

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says over two million population have been driven out of their homes by rising waters of the River Niger, hence the agency appeals for $38 million as humanitarian support (with the bulk money going to restoration of water, sanitation and hygiene services) to respond to widespread flooding in Nigeria.

“The response plan is for $38 million. It targets 2.1 million people who are in need of assistance in a number of humanitarian sectors such as water and sanitation, food shelter material and non-food items such as mosquito nets and kitchen sets. The majority of those displaced are living with host communities, some are in camp like settlements.

“Many are in public buildings such as schools. All those millions of people who have been affected are mainly from farming and fishing communities along the river and they have seen either their farmlands completely inundated, they have been their fishing equipment nets etc washed away; so they have been robbed off their livelihood,” the UN reports, say.

It is observable that the response plan targets 2.1 million people who are in need of assistance in a number of humanitarian sectors, such as water and sanitation, food, shelter material, and non-food items, such as mosquito nets and kitchen sets, says the OCHA spokesperson, Jens Laerke; Laerke continues, saying that majority of those displaced are living with host communities; some are in camp-like settlements and others in public buildings such as schools. Many of the people affected by flood have been robbed of their livelihoods.

Continuous flood disaster

Over 7.7 million people are affected by flooding in Nigeria, as according to UN; with UNICEF saying, “the displaced people are getting their drinking water from ponds, streams and unprotected wells” in the affected regions.

OCHA says that food insecurity, due to the destruction of farmlands and fishing areas, pose a great risk. Four persons and over 30,000 persons, 2,170 homes and nearly 545 hectares of agricultural land are affected by Niger floods in August 2015, the UN reports. An Engineer in Delta State tells the UN in a town hall meeting, saying that snakes and other precarious reptiles are taking over their places of refuge.

“Many of the victims were affected by various forms of diseases. The state did its best to avert the trend by evacuating victims from affected communities to new locations across the state to check the trend, especially nursing mothers and their babies,” Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan as Governor of Delta State, tells the UN delegation.

Valerie Amos, UN under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, approves of Uduaghan’s statement.

Dishonest government officials

At the heat of the hazard, dishonest government officials are fingered to be diverting the money meant for the victims of flood disaster. Checks reveal that the money meant for the displaced persons end in the personal pockets of some officials.

For example, in Isoko Local Area of Delta State, a young man who is trained by ActionAid in Good Governance and Citizens Participation (and does not want the name in print) tells this writer that as a farmer and cassava-mill entrepreneur, he has not received a dime from the money given to his state government that is in the tone of millions of Naira.

This is the fate of many of the victims, contrary to the early warning given by Dr. Uduaghan – to Flood Fund Management Committee – that the relief materials and funds are meant for the flood victims and should not be diverted.

Lamentation

Mr. Tony Osborg, a social affairs analyst, says, “Corruption is an inevitable by-product of the present structure of Nigeria’s federalism. Once we restructure the polity into a true fiscal federalism, everything else will simply fall into place. Until then, corruption remains as official as it is legal in Nigeria.”

Checks have also revealed that neither the State Ministry of Environment nor the Bureau of Special Duties under the Governor’s office, have given any justification why the funds are yet to get to the flood victims. The question among journalists, researchers, the victims and critics is where is the N17.6 billion, given by federal government as a relief fund for the victims. Evidence is that N13.3 billion is shared among the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory; N4.3 billion is shared to Federal bodies to maintain the victims.

Sustaining UN’s efforts

“The Forum reflects the collaboration that has been happening between NEMA and the UN in responding to this flood. The Forum will be an information sharing platform on the flood response and overall humanitarian impact. It is intended to strengthen and enhance information sharing and updates on the current flood impact,” a Director General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani Sidi, says.

On the part of Ms Choice Okoro-Oloyede, a Head of the United Nations Humanitarian Advisory Team for the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian (UNOCHA), “NEMA has demonstrated commendable leadership in swiftly visiting the affected states around the country and ensuring the provision of timely life-saving support to the most affected.”

She adds, saying that the Forum will ensure partners involved in the flood response have the same update, at the same time, on what is being done, location of response and by whom. “It will promote mutual and joint updates on who is doing what and where, and will ensure that gaps in interventions are eliminated,” she says.

Overview

The UNDP Deputy Country Director Bernardo Cocco, says, UNDP’s support to the development of the Action Plan is “part of a broader strategic response to addressing the challenges of disaster management in Nigeria”. This suggests that there is a great task to do for the Ministry of Environment; Ministry of Health; National Space Research and Development Agency; Federal Road Safety Commission; Nigerian Police Force; Nigerian Air Force; Nigerian Navy; Nigerian Security and Civil Defence; and Federal Fire Service. Others are Nigerian Meteorological Agency; United Nations Education; Scientific and Cultural Organisation; Nigeria Red Cross Society; Media Information Committee on Emergency Management; UNICEF; OXFAM, YADI, OCHA, JADI, CCFN, on Niger Delta due to flooding.

“The Nigerian government authorities, working with the support of UNDP and other UN agencies, have taken various steps to ensure that what happened last year did not repeat itself this year. The Federal Government has adopted a National Disaster Recovery Strategy/Framework and Flood Recovery Action Plan, prepared with the assistance of UNDP and other stakeholders. The strategy and action plan will help the authorities to check the incidences of floods in the future – and also to assist the citizens in reducing the effects of floods when they do occur,” the authorities say.

For Dewald van Niekerk, Director of African disaster studies at South Africa’s North-West University, “What needs to change is our work in pre-disaster preparation. People have to understand why it floods. There might be an engineering solution or there could be an early warning system.”

Source: Odimegwu Onwumere

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