94% of Nigeria is affected by flooding, according to U.N., displacing over a million people


Image Credit: ISeeAfrica - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64363489)

Across Nigeria, hundreds of towns and villages are completely underwater.


The floods inundated 34 out of the 36 states in the country, killing over 600 people, injuring thousands more, and leaving at least 200,000 houses partially or fully damaged, according to a United Nations report.


The floods are inundating schools, hospitals, police stations, and banks leaving them unable to operate. As of October 24, an estimated 1.4 million people are displaced.


Despite the devastatingly high numbers, the flooding is barely scratching the surface of U.S. media’s front-page news, Heather Souvaine Horn of The New Republic points out.


In a video by the German outlet, DW news, residents can be seen carrying their belongings to the tops of their houses and cars, navigating the deluged roads by canoe, and evacuating their homes by way of roads as high as trees.


As the floods affect farmlands, there is growing concern over food scarcity in the coming months, as well as the waterborne disease spread. Already the floods have led to “a major increase in cholera cases and other preventable diseases in Nigeria,” the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned in a statement on Friday, calling for more resources to scale up its response.


Reportedly, the Nigerian government saw early warning signs of the flooding, but “never foresaw this level of destruction,” DW describes. Southeastern Nigeria is at risk of flooding at least until the end of the rainy season in November. Nevertheless, according to The New York Times, rain is not the only factor. Dams with neighboring Cameroon augment the issue, annually causing flooding in downstream Nigeria.


“If the government has been doing anything, they haven’t done anything here,” a resident of Nigeria’s Anambra state said, via DW. “We have not seen any presence of the government.” Residents’ sentiment is backed up by those higher up. According to Nigeria’s minister of humanitarian affairs, Sadiya Umar Farouq, the scale of the disaster is due to the failure of other branches of the government to prepare.


“There was enough warning and information about the 2022 flood,” she posted on Twitter, “but states, local governments, and communities appear not to take heed.” Other experts such as Ibrahim Raji, a Nigerian climate researcher, point to the government’s reluctance to address environmental issues as a factor in failing to prepare for climate emergencies, PBS Newshour reports.


Since the rain, the National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria (NEMA) is distributing flood relief, delivering food and other items to holding camps across the state of Anambra. According to NEMA, they are able to deliver the relief because of government approval and efforts by the state. However, according to the country’s Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, much more will be needed to cater to the needs of the growing population of displaced individuals.


Like the flooding in Pakistan that displaced 33 million people, the Nigerian floods are likely climate-intensified. “Climate change is real, as we’re yet again discovering in Nigeria,” the UN humanitarian coordinator, Matthias Schmale said in a briefing last week. “We’re currently seeing the worst floods in 10 years in Nigeria,” he said, which is exacerbating existing hunger worries. “Both the flooding and food insecurity can be largely explained with climate change factors.”


Building on food insecurity, experts fear that the ruined farmlands will increase the already intense inflation of food prices. Nigeria and Ghana are at 20.7% and 37% respectively.


As seen in the aftermath of Pakistan’s floods, the crisis in Nigeria will likely foster further loss and damage talks ahead of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27.


While the climate crisis is experienced around the world, it's clear that the global south is facing the brunt of it environmentally and economically. In past climate summits, further developed nations have not held up their end of the bargain, specifically, those outlined under the Paris Agreement in 2016.


The last time Nigeria experienced flooding of this scale was in September 2012. The damage was estimated to cost $17 billion. As Nigeria needs more aid to deal with the present flooding and that which is expected to come throughout the rest of the season, eyes will be on November’s climate conference.


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