Floods in Nigeria: With many states in the West African country still grappling with the worst floods in a decade, we spoke to residents of Bayelsa state to learn how they are coping with the environmental catastrophe.
The last major floods in Nigeria was in 2012 and according to CNN, 33 of the 36 states in Nigeria have been affected. The floods in Nigeria have had a devastating impact, in particular on the country’s residents who live in the southern regions including states like Anambra, Cross River, Delta and Bayelsa.
According to Al Jazeera, more than 600 people have died and 1.3 million displaced due to the effects of the flooding in Nigeria which started around late September. Those surviving the floods are left to deal with a situation that continues to dramatically affect their livelihood.
Unsurprisingly, media coverage of the floods in Nigeria is sparse. The Voice reported that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Archewell Foundation donated to Save the Children Nigeria to help those affected by the flood. It’s good to see the humanitarian efforts, but how much do we know about what’s causing the floods, who are the people affected and how are they coping?
To get more insight into how the floods in Nigeria are affecting locals, Melan Magazine spoke to three Bayelsa citizens who have been directly affected.
What is causing the floods in Nigeria?
The recent floods in Nigeria have been linked to above-average rainfall, significantly impacting areas in the southern regions in particular. Furthermore, the neighbouring country Cameroon, had an overflowing dam, the Lagdo Dam, which is also being thought to have contributed to the flooding.
“Nigerians are used to managing. If not, we would have all died. Nigerians care for themselves, we’re just like infants with no father or mother.”
— Larry Madowo (@LarryMadowo) October 26, 2022
Contributing further, environmentalists have said, the lack of effective drainage infrastructure across Nigeria has led to why the flooding is so bad this year. Fortune, a Bayelsa native, said: “We should be talking about government preparation since the state was pre-warned of this flood even before it came. The government missed the vital window to reduce the impact of the flood.”
What has the Nigerian government said about the floods?
At the time of writing, the Nigerian government has not declared the floods as a national state of emergency. Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, said in an interview: “It’s certainly an emergency situation but it all depends on what you mean by declaring a state of emergency. We have not reached a situation in my view where the relevant emergency management authorities have not been able to deal with this situation. I’m not aware that has happened.”
How are the floods in Nigeria affecting Bayelsa state citizens?
Enibo lives in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state. Describing how the flood affected her home, she says: “My house was flooded. Our house is a bungalow, so we moved all of our things upstairs. Downstairs, the water is up to my knee level. It’s that bad. We have to pass through the water every day to go out and come inside.” Yet with incredible humility, Enibo adds: “I would actually say I’m lucky because we were able to move our things upstairs. But a lot of people who don’t have that privilege are homeless right now. For us, there is no access to water. Water is actually very expensive here, right now in Bayelsa state. My dad’s business is closed down. The water, it stinks and it’s really dangerous because that water alone can give disease.”
You ain’t contesting for any office in Nigeria that needs the vote of Bayelsans so of cause,the present suffering of the people isn’t your business but their oil is your major source of income.
The oil tycoons are all quiet about the #FloodInBayelsa.
You all are doing well.
— Enibo Albert (@enibo_albert) November 3, 2022
Although a victim herself, Enibo has been actively helping other victims, too. “I haven’t received any help”, Enibo says followed by laughter. “I’ve been the one helping people through my foundation a little.”
Sharing her thoughts on the government’s response to the flood, Enibo says: “I feel they weren’t prepared for the flood. Though they have been sending ‘relief materials’, I wouldn’t really call it relief materials because they are just a few things they’re sending that will not even be enough for the people to use for one day.”
Also based in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, Layefa shares: “The flood has affected me in so many ways, my normal routine has been disabled. I spend more money on a daily basis than I used to. Prices of commodities have skyrocketed as a result of the flood. We have a border at both ends to two states, Rivers and Delta and both roads to each state have been cut off by the flood. So, bringing in commodities from outside the state is impossible at the moment making varieties scarce.”
We have no electricity, price of fuel keeps increasing amidst scarcity, the water level keeps increasing, more persons are being displaced.
Send help, be your brothers keeper#FloodInBayelsa pic.twitter.com/ZLnXrjiCxc
— Bayelsa|Warri Twytter Queen 👑🌈 (@BrayelaLayefa) October 18, 2022
Layefa is also trying to help others suffering too: “I started out by visiting camps, buying them bags of water, and sanitary pads for the adolescent girls. Then when I saw a greater need I added medicine (paracetamol, vitamin C, folic acid for pregnant women, methylated balms, worm medicine and anti-malaria). My friends also join me as we do this.”
Speaking on what she imagines the after-effects of the flood will be like, Layefa says: “There will be outbreaks of diseases and infections. People will find it difficult to start all over. Especially those whose businesses, houses and sources of livelihood have been destroyed and lost to the flood.”
Father and businessman, Fortune said: “Some of my friends in the agricultural sector of the Bayelsa Economy lost millions of Naira. The flood led to the death of all the birds in their poultries.”
This is what the Ahoada Axis of the East-West Road looks like today November 1, 2022.
— Fortune God’sSon Alfred 🇳🇬 (@HRFKingFGA) November 1, 2022
On a personal note, Fortune says: “With my entire compound enveloped by flood waters, we do not have power [electricity]. We have to drive out to buy water and transport some to my home with Canoes.”
Speaking on how the flood has affected his kids, Fortune says: “My kids have been trapped at home for more than two weeks now. This has taken a psychological toll on them. [A few] days ago my eight-year-old son told me that he and his siblings feel like they are in prison. I was surprised because I thought I had done my best to provide for them in these trying times.”
Amongst this, there are also blackouts. Fortune says: “The flood has already resulted in a near total blackout in Yenagoa as the power transformers have been turned off to prevent electrocution. This has in turn led to acute water shortage.”
Speaking on how he fears for his security and health, he adds: “The flood has left me with a general sense of insecurity as I have to live with the anxiety of being mindful of snakes and other harmful reptiles as I walk through the water at night to my home when the canoe ferry folks have closed.”
Fortune says he has not received any help. He said: “The so-called ‘palliatives’ only go to folks in Government created IDP (internally displaced persons) camps.”
Where to donate to help victims of the floods in Nigeria
The Red Cross in Nigeria is accepting donations to help the worst affected areas of Nigeria by the flood.
Enibo, Fortune and Layefa are very active on Twitter sharing the work that they are doing in Bayelsa state. Here is Enibo’s donation page.
Please share further verified sources for donations in the comments…