“I’m very anxious about everything that’s going on,” says 20-year-old Ude Ugo. “My entire family is displaced now; my parents and siblings are staying with some family friends and I’m staying somewhere else.”
Ude is just one of the victims of the floods that have wreaked havoc on over 33 Nigerian states. Since FEMME MAG last reported, the human death count from the floods has since risen from 80 to over 600 and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. According to reports, over 1 million Nigerians have been displaced and more than 10,000 houses have been destroyed.
The effects of the flood have been devastating and its victims have suffered damage that will take months, if not years, to recover from. Victims of the floods are reportedly fending off snake attacks while sleeping on roadsides every night. Food insecurity is also at an all-time high, as crops that individuals rely on to sell or eat have been completely submerged underwater. For Nigerian students gearing up to return to school after the 8-month ASUU strike, the journey might prove a bit tasking.
Ude’s brother is one of those who have been affected.
He has been unable to return to school at the University of Enugu and he worries that even after the floods are over, he will still be unable to do so. Major roads connecting the town he lives in have been cut off by the floods, making transportation practically impossible.
In Bayelsa, where Ude’s family live, the hospitals have also been closed and their patients evacuated. Not only does this mean that any human casualties from the flood are unable to access healthcare but existing patients are incapable of getting treatment.
Relief initiatives such as the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps have been set up by the government to help deal with crises like these. In Bachevi, Bayelsa, they’ve provided two cups of rice and a few bouillon cubes to a tiny number of residents to help tackle dwindling food supplies.
Mrs Zanga, another source who spoke to FEMME MAG says that the IDP camps have been of little to no help. According to her, the people placed in the camps are “suffering”. Mrs Zanga has a few family members who live there and she has been the one to provide them with basic amenities and food.
“It is not safe for them to stay there but we do not have any other choice. The windows have been vandalized, there are no mosquito nets or mattresses and there are no members of administration. We’ve tried to help them and bring relief from the donations we have gotten from social media but we are just a tiny group of people who are also struggling,” she says.
Social media has helped spread awareness about the flood and has been instrumental in raising money to help assist those who have been affected. Some organizations like Naija Flood Aid are fundraising and providing help to members of the community; something that the Nigerian government has been slow to do.
Just recently, President Muhammadu Buhari gave the Minister of Water Resources 90 days to come up with a plan to manage the floods. But this is a case of too little too late. The floods have been a regular annual occurrence for the past few years and the time to come up with a plan was a few years ago or at the very least when the Cameroonian government gave the warning that they would be opening up their dams earlier this year.
600 Nigerians are dead and it will continue that way if decisive action isn’t taken right now. Not in 90 days, not next month; right now. And even after the floods are over, the trauma will be felt for a long time. Zanga tells FEMME MAG that the floods took her house in the middle of the night.
“My husband wasn’t at home at the time and I had to struggle to get my kids to safety,” she says. “It was very scary and my heart still pounds when I think about it.”
While Mrs Zanga managed to pack up some of her belongings, she still suffered a loss that is worth thousands of naira. This is in addition to her business which she has had to shut down temporarily. She tells FEMME MAG that every week the floods continue to rage on, she loses about N200,000 in revenue.
The current floods are an addition to the long list of problems already affecting the Nigerian economy. The floods are bound to exacerbate the insecurity issues and the inflation the country was already experiencing. Fuel scarcity has already been reported in some states and it will no doubt continue to expand.
The situation right now is precarious and it is very unfortunate that the Nigerian government isn’t treating this like the emergency that it is. Nigerians not only deserve a government that cares about their well-being but also one that works hard to prove that. These floods have been the worst in Nigerian history and we must implement a plan to make sure this will be the last of it.