There is a high risk of unexpected flooding that might affect more than 30 states in Nigeria, as it has already affected some areas this year. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) urges conflict-affected and vulnerable countries, such as Nigeria, to take a lead role in the climate agenda that they all prepare to meet for COP28. A widespread increase of diseases such as cholera caused a deep concern among humanitarian organisations due to the disheartening impact of the flooding that happened last year, causing infrastructural damages, even as many could not access health facilities and clean water.
Out of 36 States in Nigeria, 31 states gave reports of 23,550 suspected cases of cholera, while Borno State alone recorded 12,000 cases of cholera. At the beginning of the month of July, this year, flood alerts were issued by the government in many local governments in Kwara, Jigawa, Plateau, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Delta, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kastina, Adamawa, Borno and Kano states. Using COP28 approaches, the IRC is imploring Nigeria to be one of the States recognised globally in the climate change agenda with solid commitments to make more funding available.
The last flood in Nigeria caused hazardous effects.
Also, IRC encourages the increase of collaboration with investments in innovations, such as prevention of climate crisis from becoming more disaster through anticipatory action, and with local civil society groups. In addition, an anticipatory cash programme, established in the northeast of Nigeria, was organised by IRC as part of its response to the crisis affecting populations in the country. Using the government’s meteorological agencies’ information that it collaborated with to forecast a generational flooding, the IRC research teams compared the impacts of giving cash transfers to houses before the climate shock instead of the usual post-shock reaction.
It was discovered that families that receive the cash days before the flooding are less exposed to hunger and are likely to take pre-emptive steps. This approach can reduce the effect of climate menace within a short period and promote resilience in the long-term. The IRC Country Director for Nigeria, Babatunde Anthony Ojei, stated that the last experienced flood in Nigeria caused hazardous effects with the displacement of over 1.5 million people across many states and the loss of more than 600 lives.
Approximately 25M of the population are likely to suffer hunger.
Due to the floods, the IRC clinics in Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states recorded almost 35,000 patients, children, that have contracted waterborne diseases which increase their vulnerability to more illnesses. The potential damages of fields, harvesting or planting of seeds have caused disturbance to the agricultural calendar as a result of rising water level which will equally affect the supply of food to the population. By August, this year, approximately 25 million of the population are predicted to suffer hunger while malnutrition levels in the northwest and northeast continue at increase more than last year or four years ago, with about 2 million Nigerian receiving food assistance in April 2023.
In Nigeria, the danger of more disruption, particularly to education services, must be addressed, given that Nigeria has already been ranked as one of the countries with the highest “out-of-school children”. The Regional Deputy Director for IRC in West Africa, Hannah Gibbin, said that their concerns have been circulated around the West African region, in countries like Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, that have also been endangered by the high likelihood of soil erosion and severe flooding.
Cash will be given to vulnerable communities in preparation for the flood.
However, the worries still lie with the danger of multiple cases of valley fever, malaria, cholera and other waterborne diseases that are caused by runoff or polluted rainwater. Also, she asserted that her colleagues in the field found out that the lack of sanitation facilities, like latrines, and hygiene are major causes of cholera in various areas. Nevertheless, she added that IRC, in collaboration with partners, are working to construct boreholes and necessary facilities. In readiness for 2023 flooding, IRC has initiated a program to give cash to communities that are mostly endangered in advance, to help them in preparation and to reduce the impacts of the flood.