Nigeria floods kill 500 and displace 1.4 million, government says

Widespread flooding caused by rainfall and the discharge of excess water from a dam in neighboring Cameroon displaced 1.4 million Nigerians and claimed 500 lives, government officials said.

Floods also injured 1,546 people, flooded 70,566 hectares of farmland and “totally damaged” 45,249 houses, said Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, permanent secretary in Nigeria’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The floods affected 27 of Nigeria’s 36 states, officials said.

Landsat 9 satellite images showed significant swelling of the Niger and Benue rivers in southern Nigeria, where US space agency NASA said floodwaters “inundated many communities”. Where the rivers converged, footage revealed floodwaters submerging Lokoja, the state capital of Kogi.

“The flooding continued southward, including a noticeably large area covering southern Kogi and northern part of Anambra State,” NASA reported.

Last week, 76 people drowned in Anambra when their boat capsized as they tried to escape heavy flooding, according to several news agencies. Floodwaters reached the rooftops of Kogi and Anambra, CNN reported. More than 600,000 people in Anambra have been displaced by the floods.

” It’s sad. All of a sudden, people find themselves homeless and turn into beggars within weeks. No matter how rich they were, the displacement reduced them so much,” said Chiamaka Ibeanu, a registered nurse who lives in Onitsha in Anambra State. told the Washington Post.

Ibeanu’s immediate family lives in Ossomari and Atani, neighboring areas of Anambra near the Niger River. She learned that her aunt and uncle had been displaced when their house was submerged.

“The objects she [her aunt] couldn’t pack her bags are in the water…and she has no other home,” Ibeanu said. “Without the accommodation at the primary care center, she would have been stuck.”

Since the onset of the rainy season in Nigeria, which lasts from April to October, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) have said floods are imminent and parts of the countries would experience heavier rainfall aggravated by water. from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon. The agencies predicted that the volume of water across Nigeria would increase.

“Communities need to recognize that all disasters are local and they need to take climate forecasts and flood warnings seriously,” said Alhaji Ali Grema, Nigeria’s director of humanitarian affairs.

Sani-Gwarzo, the government’s permanent secretary, said the scale of this year’s floods is similar to the last major flood Nigeria experienced in 2012, which displaced 1.3 million people and claimed lives. to 431. In 2012, 30 of 36 states were affected.

“The scale of the devastation can only be compared to the floods of 2012,” Sadiya Umar, minister for humanitarian affairs, said in a statement.

The flooding of agricultural land has raised fears of increased food insecurity and higher prices.

“Their agricultural lands are covered by floods. This means that what has been planted is washed away and there could be a shortage of food next year,” Ibeanu said.

The Department of Humanitarian Affairs said the federal government is committed to providing relief to all communities.

“We are taking all necessary measures to help those affected by the floods. All relevant agencies renewed their commitment to strengthen their efforts to reach out to victims and provide relief,” Sani-Gwarzo said.

On Friday, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs announcement that the Nigerian government had started distributing 12,000 tons of food and non-food items to flood-stricken states.

Nigeria’s National Policy Paper on Climate Change, released in 2020, says flooding has increased in recent years and that climate change is expected to “increase the frequency and intensity of severe weather events”.

“Unfortunately, many states in Nigeria largely lack the necessary infrastructure to respond adequately to such events,” the report said.

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