[Flood series] Mapping out those affected, lost to Nigerian devastating flooding

She had expected her community to be flooded this year, but the level of flooding had exceeded her expectations. Flooding in Nigeria has been widespread and devastating this year, unlike in previous years.

The mother of one, who only wanted to be identified as Zanga, told The ICIR from her flooded community that this was the worst flood she had ever seen.

Zanga had anticipated the usual flash floods that occur after torrential rains every year between April and October. But she didn’t expect it to force her family and other members of the community to seek refuge away from their homes.

This year, her community, Omoku, a town in Rivers State, in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (LHA) with a population of about 200,000 people, experienced flooding under which houses and roads are submerged.

People wade through floodwaters in Rivers State
People wade through floodwaters in Rivers State
Photo credit: Mrs Zanga, Twitter

As the water began to rise in her neighbourhood, she began tweeting about it on October 8. Her tweets became more frequent, with updates on the situation in her community.

She was posting images and videos of water submerging roads, cars and houses and of people as they began to use the canoe as a mode of transportation in her town.

Mrs Zanga 🔥❣️ on Twitter: “State of emergency!!! 🦺 This flood is the biggest to hit us in the history of Nigeria. Flood victims are calling on the government for help 🆘 This is the level of the water as at 11am today October 11th 2020 https://t.co/IijTZ20uhp” / Twitter

She eventually left her home after it became uninhabitable due to the flood level, which began drowning houses.

She now leads a campaign,  alongside other volunteers, helping people affected by the flood in her community.

Reuben Tonye Seiyefa and his friends are also assisting flood victims in Bayelsa state.

In an interview with The ICIR about the current situation in Bayelsa, Seiyefa said the flood had left the state in a terrible condition.

He said, “The flooding in Bayelsa is disastrous. Water has flooded entire communities, and people have lost their homes. The flood has cut Bayelsa off from two neighbouring states. As a result, goods cannot enter the state, driving up the cost of living.

Transportation and food prices have also increased. There are death records, and I am aware of six deaths in Bayelsa.”

Seiyefa The Bayelsan on Twitter: “Yesterday I toured Igbogene, in Bayelsa state. This is a snippet of what they are going through currently as relating to the flooding in the state. #FloodInBayelsa https://t.co/xyeAJJjoo6” / Twitter

He added, “People are now living well. We’ve been visiting camps where people are being housed to see how we can assist. And we’ve done it by contributing money among ourselves and soliciting donations from the general public. We’ve used it to provide people with clean drinking water, medicines, milk, insecticide, mosquito nets, and sanitary pads.”

For Ali Jay, a farmer in Kaduna, the flood in August 2022 damaged his rice farm. He told The ICIR that he lost N1.8 million he invested in his farm, which was almost ready for harvest.

Ali Jay farm
Ali Jay farm

Another farmer, Tahir Abubarkar, told The ICIR that he lost N1.4 million he invested in his farm to the flood.

Abubarkar stated that they received a month’s warning about the flood from Tiga Dam in Kano state because the farm is located in Jigawa, Ringim Local Government Area.

Tahir Abubarkar
Tahir Abubarkar farm

Abubakar, who philosophised that water should be a blessing and not a disaster, said, “Dams and reservoirs are required. Water could be used for irrigation farming if properly stored, and the government could even generate electricity for the villages. We want a better country with plenty of opportunities for young people.”

The ICIR did an in-depth report on the Jigawa flood crisis which can be read HERE

Nigeria has been recording seasonal flooding, which occurs during the rainy season that starts in April and runs till October, but in some years, continues until the end of November.

Apart from the reported deaths, more than 3.3 million persons are estimated to have been affected nationwide, and 1,427,370 persons displaced.

Nigeria is used to seasonal flooding, but this year has been significantly worse than usual.

 June 12 - October 2, 2022 Source: NASA
June 12 – October 2, 2022 Source: NASA

This year, 35 states in Nigeria have been affected by floods. Anambra, Jigawa and Bayelsa states have the highest number of affected people, with 675,953, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

In Bayelsa state, the state government disclosed that 700,000 people have been displaced in approximately 300 communities and villages in five of the state’s eight local government areas that have been submerged in water as a result of the rains that caused the floods.

Kogi, Adamawa, Taraba, Rivers, Kwara, Delta and Cross River states have been the other hardest hit by the recent floods.

Houses and roads have been submerged in affected areas, forcing people to seek shelter away from their homes.

While providing updates on the flood situation in Nigeria on Tuesday, October 25, the Federal government stated that as of October 24, approximately 612 people had died as a result of the disaster.

Also, 176,852 hectares of farmlands were partially damaged and 392,399 hectares of farmlands totally damaged, according to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Flood in Nigeria

The government has blamed this year’s devastating flooding on unusually heavy rains and climate change, as well as buildings on water channels and NEMA’s failure to issue early warnings.

The emergency release of excess water from dams in Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon was another key factor causing the flooding.

Experts also say poor planning and infrastructure exacerbated the damage.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (Nimet) has warned that flooding in some southern states, including Anambra, Delta, Rivers, Cross River, and Bayelsa, could last until the end of November.

1700 deaths, 10 million persons affected by flooding since 2012

Since 2012, at least 10 million Nigerians have been affected by flooding, with more than 1,700 deaths, according to an analysis of reports by The ICIR.

Flood on steroids in Nigeria (7)

Similar floods ravaged Nigeria in 2012, killing over 363 people and affecting an estimated seven million people. According to NEMA, the floods affected 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states. The flooding was described as the worst in 40 years.

The 2012 flood was caused in part by the release of excess water from Cameroon’s Lagdo Dam and was also riverine, which occurs when rivers overflow due to heavy rains.

October 11, 2012                                                                        October 11, 2022

L-R: October 11, 2012  and October 11, 2022. Source NASA.

In Anam, a community located in Anambra West Local Government Area, bordering Kogi state, the flood has been devastating. Every year, the community gets flooded, with people forced to leave and seek temporary shelter.

The years 2012, 2018 and 2022 have been the most challenging year for Anam. The community lies in a riparian zone prone to massive flooding every couple of years. It gets flooded every time the River Niger overflows its banks after a heavy downpour.

Aloy Chife, a prominent Anam indigene and an Information Technology expert, has been documenting the Anam flood every year on his Twitter account.

Dr Aloy Chife on Twitter: “Anam. Mmiata Anam. A village in my town, Anam located just a short walk from my own estate now completely under water #FloodsinNigeria #Anamfloods 1/ https://t.co/Nn6Yb4ZMtp” / Twitter

He said flooding became a yearly experience in Anam after the 2012 flooding.

According to him, serious floods like the one currently affecting Anam happen every 40 years or so, but since 2012, it has become an annual occurrence.

He and his wife have also been distributing relief supplies to flood victims in the community.

Flood community in Anambra
A collage of a flooded community in Anambra
Photo credit: Aloy Chife, Twitter

The Anam flood has always made headlines. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo paid a visit to the community in September 2018 while touring flood-affected areas in Anambra State.

Osinbajo, who visited Umueze Anam, Anambra West Local Government Area then, said the federal government had declared the affected areas natural disaster zones and that more federal resources would be deployed to alleviate the people’s plight.

A community leader from Anam, Victor Morba, who spoke with The ICIR, described this year’s flooding as “abnormal”.

Morba said, “This is unusual; it is not the usual flooding we experience. We had a similar experience in 2012, and another in 2018, though not as severe as the one in 2012.

However, this year’s is slightly higher than 2012. Our farm and market have been flooded, and people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the flooding.”

According to him, displaced people in his community are now seeking refuge in a primary school that lacks adequate shelter.

In Kogi, Obansa Ibrahim has had enough. The Lokoja-based man has decided to relocate his family after experiencing a similar situation in 2012.

Kogi flood - Credit Obansa Ibrahim
A flooded community in Kogi State, Credit Obansa Ibrahim

According to him, this year’s flooding was worse than that of 2012, due to places that weren’t affected then getting flooded this time around.

Flooding: A look at how some deaths occurred

This is Nigeria’s highest recorded death from flooding in 10 years. The number of people to have died has also exceeded what was recorded in 2012 and 2018.

The ICIR has written a Freedom of Information Act letter to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) requesting the number of flood-related deaths per state since 2012. But NEMA was yet to respond at the time of publishing this report.

Mapping flood deaths
Infographic to Map Flood Deaths in Nigeria. Credit: Shehu Olayinka, The ICIR.

An analysis of reported deaths in 2022 by The ICIR showed that some people died in their homes and cars and drowned during boat transportation.

While there haven’t been any released statistics from the government on how deaths occurred, reports observed by The ICIR showed the victims were mostly women, children and older people. The youngest victim, so far, was a toddler, while the oldest was 70 years old.

A toddler was killed in Kogi State when flood sacked communities in Ibaji Local Government Area, while in Anambra, an eight-year-old, Izuchukwu, died when a surging flood from behind the School of Nursing, Nkpor, in the Idemili North Local Government Area, swept him off his feet and flushed him into deep erosion.

Four females and one male were also killed when a building collapsed in Kogi state while they were waiting for the flood to recede.

The corpse of a 70-year-old man, Sunday Mesiobi, was recovered in Akpoma, Atani community of Ogbaru Local Council of Anambra State, after his house was submerged in flood.

In Anambra, 76 people died when their boat capsized as they attempted to flee high floodwaters as high as rooftops. The boat was carrying more than 80 people.

A family of six died when floodwaters entered their home and drowned them in Nzam community in Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State.

In Jigawa, the police spokesperson, Deputy Superintendent Lawan Shiisu Adam, in an interview with DailyPost, said the victims died as a result of canoe mishaps, building collapse, and drowning incidents.

In Kwara state, a popular Islamic cleric, Abdulganiy Al-Adabby Aboto, who was returning to Ilorin from Minna, Niger state, died alongside his two aides in a car which plunged into the Olusola Saraki Abattoir Bridge along Sobi Army Barracks road, Ilorin.

Also, a woman, simply identified as Iya Ibadan, died after a wall fell on her at the Arijo compound, Pakata area in Ilorin.

Some youths also reportedly drowned, swept away by the flood, in Asa River at Amilengbe area, Ilorin, while attempting to catch fish that escaped from fish farms.

    Hundreds of people have died as a result of the flooding in Nigeria. How some deaths occurred. Credit: Shehu Olayinka, The ICIR.
    Hundreds of people have died as a result of the flooding in Nigeria. How some deaths occurred. Credit: Shehu Olayinka, The ICIR.

    In Lagos, three siblings residing at a church building belonging to the Mercy of Christ Apostolic Church, situated in an uncompleted building, lost their lives.

    According to the Zonal Coordinator, South West, NEMA, Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, the siblings – Michael, 18; Elizabeth, 17; and Timi, 14 – were swept away while attempting to relocate from their room to the main church structure.

    Farinloye said that Timi, who was said to be asthmatic, slipped while attempting to climb the plank linking their room to the church building and was overpowered by the flood.

    Fifteen bodies were recovered from the flooded River Ngadabul in Maiduguri, Borno wtate, after the river overflowed into communities.

    Olayinka works with The ICIR as the Social Media Manager, Reporter and Fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected]. You can as well follow him on Twitter via @BelloYinka72

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