Adamawa flood: It’s distress, frustration for farmers, residents

TOM GARBA reports the effects of flood on residents and farmers in many parts of Adamawa State.

Flash floods struck these past months in many communities of Adamawa State, affecting most areas suffering from multiple effects of farmers/herders’ clashes, kidnappings and Boko Haram insurgent attacks. But to complicate matters, Adamawa State was battling with an ongoing cholera outbreak in four local government areas before the flooding began, with 674 cases, including four deaths, reported since August 23, 2019. The affected communities are yet to receive serious support and help from the torrential rain and flash floods.

However the state Ministry of Health, Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency, along with other partners, including the World Health Organisation, have moved into emergency response mode to minimise the medical needs of the people that were affected by setting up health camps and mobile clinics. The effects of the torrential rainfall have seen an increase in the poverty index in the state as many have stated that their lives are in danger.

Negative effects of the 2019 flood rendered thousands of people homeless from mostly the local government areas of Yola South, Yola North, Girei, Demsa, Numan and Fofure in the state. The scourging results have seen many of them appeal to the Federal Government to come to their aid to ease their hardship.

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It will be recalled that the Nigerian Tribune reported that between July and September this year, thousands of people were affected by floods in 18 out of the 21 local government areas of the state. This was as a result of the fact that majority of the affected communities were those located along the banks of the River Benue. While there have been incessant calls by the authorities that residents in that axis vacate, they have in turn argued that it would be difficult since they had nowhere else to go.

Adamawa flood, farmers, emergency management agency
Adamawa flood

The devastating nature of the 2019 flood made majority of the victims to currently live in Internally Displaced Persons’ camps provided by the state government. In separate interviews with the Nigerian Tribune in Fufore, Yola South and Girei local government areas, the victims said they lost almost all their belongings to the disturbing occurrence.

Mr. John  Garba, a rice farmer from Njoboliyo village in Fufore said he lost all his property in early August this year due to a terrible downpour that caused the flooding.

According to him, “Following the heavy flood in August this year, I lost my house and three of my rice farms. Since then, my family and I have been squatting in my neighbours’ house. This is sad but it is true that many of us that were affected have not received any assistance from anybody.”

Similarly, Alhaji Usman Barde, a large scale rice and maize farmer from Girei area, lamented the terrible effects of the situation, saying that the flood submerged his maize farms.

“Last year, I harvested over five hundred bags of maize, but this year, due to the flood disaster, it will be difficult for me to harvest even one hundred bags,” Barde said.

Also lamenting, Malam Umar Hassan, a resident of Yolde-Pate village in Yola South said that the flood completely destroyed his house.

Hassan said he had been forced to take refuge in one of the temporary camps set up by the State Emergency Management Agency in Yolde-Pate, just as he stated that neither he nor others has received any assistance from the government.

Reacting, Dr Muhammad Suleiman, Executive Secretary of Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency said a total of 357,343 individuals, 7,893 Houses, and 95,474 farmlands were affected. He revealed how the State Emergency Management Agency (ADSEMA) had forwarded the information to the National Emergency Management Agency for possible intervention.

Also the 2019 downpour experienced across the state in August and September washed away three communities in Sheleng Local Government Area and destroyed properties worth several millions, rendering many people homeless.

It also noted that a temporary shelter for 300 persons, mostly women and children, displaced by the flood had been set up in the Yola South Local Government Area.

Muhammad added that the flood in Shelleng Local Government Area recorded no death as there was no report to that effect as a result of the downpour which however caused massive destruction of farmlands and properties.

In Shelleng he said, “Three communities were washed away as a result of the flood. We set up a temporary IDP shelter camp in Modire, in Yola South where 300 persons mostly women and children are camped.  They may return to their homes in a day or two once the flood waters recede.”

Aside the destruction of farm lands and properties by the flood disaster, authorities have confirmed the death of four children who were drowned, following the torrential rain, which flooded Yola.

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Adamu Ibrahim Wakili, chairman of Yola North Local Government Council, who confirmed the fatalities, added that “20,000 houses were inundated and subsequently destroyed in the three-hour long downpour.”

Adamawa flood, farmers, emergency management agency
Adamawa flood

Wakil said the flood was partly caused by improper disposal of waste in the city. According to him, “There was heavy rain last night, but things got worse with the bad culture of disposing of waste in the drainage.”

Adamawa State deputy governor, Crowther Seth, has commiserated with the families of the flood victims and called on residents of the flood-prone areas to be on the alert, “especially as the rains are expected to be steady.”

While appealing to the Federal Government for intervention, Seth also assured them that the state government had taken emergency measures to cushion the effects of the flood in the state.

Two of the three flood victims, ages 6 and 4, were children of one Kabiru Bello of Wuro-Jabbe.  Bello, father to one of the deceased, narrated his ordeal to the Nigerian Tribune. He stated that his house was submerged, leading to the “deaths of my son and daughter.”

Other neighbourhoods affected by the torrential rain were Samu-Naka, Bachure, Kofare, Damilu and Jambutu within the capital city.

Major streets were also affected as commuters experienced difficulty along the airport road and Jambutu bypass. One lane of the airport road, leading into the city centre was impassable as a result of the level of water for several hours, thereby causing gridlock on the exiting lane.

The torrential rain no doubt left communities, people both women and children resorted to living in IDPs camps while a handful of few others deserted flooding areas to more safer places consider temporary. The areas lived by those affected by the flood are virtually prone to all forms of attacks especially the rampant kidnapping activities ravaging the local government areas of Girei, Yola North and South. A possible herders and farmers’ clash can easily catch up with many of them just as they could become the victim of what would have been averted if the government had provided good town-planning and drainages in many towns of the state. The affected communities would not have been victim if they had adhered to warnings by the government and the yearly campaigns by agencies in anticipation of flood.

It the moment the IDP camps shelter this people with no certainty of when they would return to their respective communities.

Haruna Isa a victim of flood disaster from Njoboloyo village of Yola South told Nigerian Tribune that his house, farmlands and properties were destroyed, and he was still unaware of how to begin again unless government provided intervention for people like him.

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