According to the National Emergency Management Agency, more than 600,000 people have been displaced by recent flooding and more than 300 people have been killed this year due to the recent crisis.
On Friday, 07 October 2022, 76 people died in Anambra State while trying to escape high floodwaters. They had been on a boat carrying approximately 85 passengers. The boat capsized in the south-eastern state, in floodwaters that are now so high that they are, reportedly, covering entire buildings. Significant parts of eight local government areas or ‘LGAs’ in Anambra—Ogbaru, Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Anambra East, Anambra West, Awka North, Ayamelum and Oyi—are currently submerged underwater.
The casualties in Anambra happened just a week after a flood in Kogi State. In Kogi, several days of downpours claimed the lives of at least six victims, including a toddler in Ibaji, the worst-hit of Kogi’s LGAs.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the flood in Anambra has displaced more than 600,000 people and, across Nigeria, floods have killed more than 300 people this year. NEMA has identified states such Cross River and Kebbi that lie along the banks of the Rivers Niger and Benue as those most at risk of extreme flooding. This is because, according to NEMA, three of Nigeria’s overfilled reservoirs are expected to overflow into these regions.
Two weeks ago, on 01 October 2022, following the flood in Kogi, the governor of Kogi, Yahaya Bello, expressed that he is ‘deeply distressed by the scope of devastation and suffering that has already been visited on our people by the rising floodwaters this year.’ He described the catastrophe as a ‘humanitarian tragedy’, assuring the communities and families affected that help was on the way.
IDP Camps are now providing shelter for flood victims of Kogi, in addition to food, medicine and clothing. Governor Yahaya Bello said that the 2022 floods have been confirmed as Nigeria’s worst flood disaster in a decade. He also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, to declare a State of National Disaster due to flooding in Kogi and other affected states. According to the governor, Nigeria had a similar declaration in 2018.
Last week Sunday, President Buhari directed emergency services to provide relief to the victims of the flood disaster in Anambra, adding that he is praying ‘for the repose of the souls of the deceased and for everyone’s safety, as well as the well-being of the family members of the victims of this tragic accident.’
Yesterday, at a meeting in Abuja on the flooding crisis, the federal government confirmed that extreme flooding in the country has led to the obliteration of 45,249 houses and the damage of 70,566 hectares of farmland. Despite this, the minister of agriculture and rural development, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar said that although the devastation caused by flooding is a cause for concern, Nigerians should refrain from panicking over fears of flood-driven food insecurity. He added that, ‘we know what to do to correct and do damage control and we are doing that in every respect. And the government is doing everything to ensure there is no hunger.’
But concerns about food security predate the recent flooding crisis. According to Fred Kafeero, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Representative in Nigeria and ECOWAS, analysis carried out at the beginning of the year, showed that about 19.4 million Nigerians already faced food insecurity in 21 states and Abuja. As flooding continues, food insecurity will likely worsen, Kafeero warned. ‘As food insecurity worsens, he said, ‘so does the risk of malnutrition. It is estimated that about two million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition.’
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), present at yesterday’s meeting in Abuja, warned that states in the north central and south-eastern parts of Nigeria should prepare for more flooding. The director general of NiMet, Professor Mansur Bako Matazu, explained that: ‘Every year water-related hazard affects millions of people globally and cause damages to properties worth billions of dollars. It is expected that water-associated risks are going to intensify in the coming years as the full weight of climate change begin to bear on our earth.’
Professor Matazu stressed the need for governments to tackle water-related challenges by ‘securing water supplies, designing appropriate water governance schematic, sustaining the management of transboundary basins, managing flood and/or drought as well as ensuring the protection and conservation of our ecosystem.’
According to Clement Nze, the director general of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, the Ladgo dam in Cameroon, from which the release of excess water has exacerbated flooding in Nigeria, will continue to spill water till November 2022⎈
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