How floods crippled the North: Thousands rendered homeless, lives, properties worth millions lost
As the northern part of Nigeria groans under the effects of ravaging floods leading to the death of hundreds of people, destruction of thousands of homes and farmlands, including cemeteries, the state governments are forced to set up IDP camps. MUHAMMAD SABIU, Northern Bureau Chief, in this report, examines the devastating effects of this year’s flood in the North, causes and why the Federal Government has to declare state of emergency on flooding.
For several decades, the menace of flooding in the northern region has been a recurring issue. Every year, there are reports of deaths and destruction of houses as a result of heavy floods. In 2022, the heavy downpour in several towns and cities has been described as unprecedented as the damage cannot be quantified. Today, many houses have been destroyed by flood, causing many to ask whether the flood disaster is natural or manmade.
Early warnings in the middle of July already indicated that there would be flooding in no fewer than 18 states across the country; the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (Nimet) had noted that the prevailing weather pattern was worrisome as findings had shown that there would be abnormal rainfall in some states in the region between August and September.
It had stated that the above-normal rains were expected in Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe, Borno, Sokoto, Gombe, Kebbi, Adamawa, Kano, and Kaduna. In the same vein, a similar scenario is expected in South Western states like Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Lagos and Edo.
The director-general of NiMet, Mansur Matazu, had assured that his agency would continue to observe and make meaningful decisions to avert further calamities. He had then advised states that are vulnerable to flood to begin awareness campaigns through field extension workers for possible response activities, especially at the high-risk areas.
However, it was gathered that most of the states currently affected by flood ignored the warning until heavy rains wreaked havoc. From statistics obtained by the Nigerian Tribune, no fewer than 10 states in the North; are Kaduna, Jigawa, Kogi, Kwara, Gombe, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Kano and Katsina, have been hit by flood.
In Taraba, no fewer than 50 farmers are believed to have died as a result of flood which submerged their farmlands. It was gathered that the sad episode occurred on the day the nation was celebrating its 62nd independence anniversary. It was gathered that the bodies of 15 farmers have so far been recovered in Gwamtamu village of Gassol local government area of Taraba State.
Another, incident of flood in the state occurred in Ibi Local Government area of the state where 50 houses were destroyed by flood and properties as well as farm crops and domestic animals were washed away.
Lamenting on the calamity that befell Dampar community, the local government council chairman, Bala Bako, stated that flooding has become an annual occurrence in the village. He, however, maintained that this year’s incident has been more devastating as it affected over 1, 000 hectares of farm land, destroying crop worth hundreds of millions of naira.
Bako appealed to the Federal Government to provide relief materials for victims and possible relocation of the community.
In the same vein, flood resulting from heavy downpour has ravaged many communities in Adamawa State resulting in the death of 37 people. The Adamawa State Emergency Management agency boss, Dr Muhammad Suleiman had said in an interview that 58 people had sustained serious injuries.
According to him, 171,000 persons were affected while 89,000 hectres of farmlands were submerged as a result of the flooding.
Similarly, in Jigawa State, the situation was so devastating that over 137 lives were lost. It was said that 15 out of the 20 local government areas were seriously affected, while over 200,000 people were displaced from their homes. Also, it was reported that property worth N1. 5 trillion had been lost as a result of recurring flood in the state. .
This was made known by the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Umar Namadi, when he was hosting the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) chief for Kano, Katsina, and Jigawa states, Rahman Rihub Mahmud Fara recently.
He said that two local governments, Kirikasamma and Birniwa, are on the danger list, adding that the flood has affected 272,189 people while 76,887 lost their houses. He explained that one village was completely destroyed and a local government totally cut off from the rest of the state..
Namadi appealed to the Federal Government and other development partners, including UNICEF, to come to the aid of the state
On his part, the UNICEF boss stated that his team came to assess the situation and to see what could be done to alleviate the suffering of the affected communities.
1000 houses built on water channel has been identified as the cause of flooding in Borno State, according to the state governor, Babagana Zulum, in an interview.
He stated that “more than 1,000 houses have been illegally built on routes that ought to be water channels forcing water to pass through communities and cause destructions.
“We are once again visited by this unfortunate flooding which has affected communities not only in Maiduguri but in some local government areas. Insha’Allah, the deputy Governor, His Excellency, Umar Usman Kadafur, will be heading an assessment team that will visit all affected communities in all the local government areas that have been affected, with a view to determining the extent of damage, and identify victims for the purpose of intervention by the state government,” he said.
In Nasarawa State, no fewer than 400,000 persons have been displaced by flood. This was made known by the executive secretary of the State Emergency Management agency, Mr. Zachary. Allumaga.
He said 92 communities across 11 local government areas were affected by the disaster. The official listed the affected local government areas to include Awe, Toto, Keana, Doma, Nasarawa Keffi, Nasarawa Eggon, Obi, Lafia, Wamba and Karu.
Also in Kogi, nine local government areas have been affected by flood. To this end, the state government has made a passionate appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of national disaster due to flooding in the state.
The state governor, Yahaya Bello, made the appeal in an interview, adding that “flooding has affected the nine local government areas which lie along the Rivers Niger and Benue, namely, Lokoja, Kogi-Koto, Ajaokuta, Ofu, Igalamela-Odolu, Bassa, Idah, Ibaji and Omala.
He said “Ibaji is almost 100 percent underwater while the rest range from 30 percent up. Other inland LGAs also have some degree of flooding from smaller rivers and tributaries. We, therefore, have a serious and humanitarian tragedy on our hands, but I wish to assure every person, family and community which has been affected that they are not alone and that help is coming.
“Even before the floods came we had activated our early response systems to make sure that succour reaches those affected in a timely manner. Even though we are still mapping the red zones as they develop, the Kogi State Emergency Management Agency (KOGISEMA) and other first responders are already hard at work across the state.
At-risk communities were informed and encouraged to evacuate long before the flooding began and Internally Displaced Persons Camps were set up and put at their disposal.
Seven persons have lost their lives to flood disaster in different parts of Kwara State. It was gathered that in the riverine communities, Patigi village in Patigi Local Government Area of the state is the worst hit by the disaster, which has become an annual ritual.
Also, it was learnt a total of 1,300 households and 2,800 persons were affected in the flood disaster that also submerged large hectares of farmland and houses in Patigi.
The managing director, Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC), Alhaji Abubakar Yelwa, disclosed this in an interview. However, he said the state government has earmarked N50m as relief materials to the victims of the flood disaster.
Floods had destroyed more than 1,500 graves in Mariga town of Niger State. A resident, Alhassan Musa Na’ibi, in an interview said the community had to re-bury about 1,000 decomposed bodies.
Naibi said this was the first time the community had experienced flooding in the graveyard since it was built some 500 years ago. Findings also revealed that over 100 people have died in the state this year as a result of flooding, while over 100,000 people have been displaced by flood.
Causes of flood
What are the factors responsible for recurring of flooding in the region? Findings revealed that in some communities, the release of water from the dam led to serious flood in some communities in Niger, Benue, and Jigseai. A resident around Shiroro Dam in Niger State revealed that for several decades, people around the dam had been witnessing serious flooding.
According to Abubakar Isa, “whenever the rain season starts, we start to shiver because of the repercussions of the season.” He added that this year’s has even the worst as a result of the down pour in the area.
Findings revealed that the heavy rain led to the presence of heavy water in the dam. So, it was learnt that the water had to be released in order not to overflow and destroy farmlands and houses living within the vicinity.
Apart from that, residents were said to have built houses on water ways. And according to an official of the Kaduna State emergency agency, Hussaini Modibbo, houses built on waterways blocked the passage of water thus whenever there’s heavy rain, it results to serious flooding.
However, an environmental expert, Abubakar Jibrin, blamed this on government officials who allocate such lands to potential house owners.
It was for this reason that both the governors of Borno and Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje and Babagana Zulum, decided to revoke all the lands allocated on the waterways.
Zulum said his government had identified over, 1, 000 such houses built on these waterways.
Call for state of emergency
Based on the devastating effects of this year’s flooding, people have called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on flood. The governor of Kogi, Yahaya Bello, was one of the governors that made the appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the governor, most of the houses affected by flooding inKogi have been submerged. He added that without a serious plan to deal with the situation, the situation might escalate to further humanitarian crisis.
A similar appeal was extended by the leadership of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Jigawa State when it called for immediate intervention from the Federal Government based on the fact that there are over 50 camps established by the state government to accommodate the internally displaced persons and the camps are not adequate to accommodate the number of displaced persons, majority of whom are women and children.
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