Flooding: What is Jigawa state doing to mitigate future disaster?

LAST year, The ICIR captured the impact of flooding in Jigawa state in this report, ‘Displaced by flood, struck by hunger; life inside Jigawa IDP camps’. The state has been described to be the worst hit across Nigeria and highly vulnerable to potential flooding this year – 2023. As a follow-up, Nurudeen AKEWUSHOLA visited households and farming communities affected by the flood to assess communities and government preparation to manage the flood.


Lima Jakada, a farmer in Kalgwai community in Jigawa state, had made arrangements to harvest his agricultural produce and transport it to the market to get enough to feed his family. But, his hopes were dashed by the devastating floods that swept through Nigeria in 2022 and wreaked havoc on farmlands in his village, Kagwai, and numerous locations in Jigawa state.

The rainy seasons in Jigawa, located in northwest Nigeria, evoke feelings of anxiety and sorrow among its residents. During the period between mid-August and September 2022, the state faced one of the most devastating floods it had experienced in years. Despite being familiar with the recurring floods, the magnitude of destruction witnessed was immense.

Lima Jakanda, a farmer in Jigawa community

Recounting his loss, Lima, who is one of the victims of the disaster, said, “As a result of torrential rainfall and the overflowing river, our farmland became flooded with water. Personally, I had cultivated rice, meticulously preparing the soil, planting the seeds, and providing necessary fertilisers, eagerly anticipating a bountiful harvest with faith in God’s intervention. But, the devastating flood swept away all my rice crops.

” I had anticipated a yield of at least 30 sacks of crops, yet not a single sack was salvaged. The flood mercilessly claimed everything I had worked for, leaving me with nothing.”


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He said he was given N18,000 by the government as compensation, but it is nothing compared to the loss and expressed fear about the potential of another flood as the rainy season approaches.

Jigawa is one of the states prone to annual destructive flood incidents, but in 2022, The ICIR reported that the state witnessed one of the most devastating floods in its history.

According to the Ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management, and social development, the state was the worst hit by the flood disaster in 2022, and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) has identified Jigawa as one of the states that fall within the highly probable flood risk areas for 2023.

Residents left with no option

In 2022, Jigawa experienced devastating floods that submerged numerous houses and forced residents to seek shelter in makeshift IDP camps. During the visit to severely affected communities, The ICIR observed that community members had successfully returned and resumed their daily routines.

In Malgodo community, for instance, the flood submerged many buildings, leading to casualties and property damage. Despite the looming threat of another flood this year, the community members rebuilt their mud houses, while others are still rehabilitating.

A resident of Jigawa state rebuilding his mud house that was destroyed by flood/ Credit : The ICIR/ Nurudeen Akewushola
A resident of Jigawa state rebuilding his mud house that was destroyed by flood/ Credit : The ICIR/ Nurudeen Akewushola

Suleiman Hassan, a resident of Sabon Uyo community recounting his harrowing experience during the 2022 flood, told The ICIR “Almost 99% of people in this village left their homes. The houses here were completely abandoned. Everything was submerged in water, including my house. The water reached my chest. The rooms, clothing, and belongings of my wife were all destroyed. Even our food supplies were ruined”.

Suleiman Hassan

According to Hassan, the villagers built an embankment around farmlands and their homes as protection, but it was not enough to prevent the flood. 

Hassan highlighted the need for frequent dredging of the Hadejia River and the necessity for an embankment to protect the community from future calamities. 

On why they came back to the community, Hassan said, “Because we don’t have anywhere else to go. If we had a proper place to stay, we would have sought shelter there instead of living in uncertainty. Only Allah knows what the future holds, but we live in constant fear for our lives.”

“The government often claims money and food have been sent out and given to the victims of the flood, but it is not reaching us as it should be; that is the truth. Help is coming, but not as much as it should be,” he said.

Despite the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) urging residents of flood-prone communities to relocate to higher ground before the start of the flood season, some communities in Jigawa, particularly those near the Hadejia Dam, seem to disregard the advice which, according to them, is due to lack of alternatives.

For instance, Ya’u Maragwado, a 29-year-old resident of Maragwado village, was found rebuilding his mud house that was destroyed by the previous year’s flood when this reporter visited his community.

He expressed a desire to leave the community and if he finds a safer location for farming without the constant fear of floods. However, he currently had no other viable options.

Ya'u Maragwado rebuilding his mud house destroyed by flood. The ICIR
Ya’u Maragwado rebuilding his mud house destroyed by flood. The ICIR

“The flood affected me as it destroyed my crops and my house. Now, you find me here rebuilding because we have no other means to help ourselves. This is where I live and farm, my only resort. It’s something I must do,” Maragwado explained why he refused to relocate away from the flood-prone community.

Maragwado appealed to the government for support, urging them to consider providing assistance to those whose homes were affected. He suggested the possibility of changing their environment or implementing other measures to help alleviate their situation, if feasible.

Jigawa a highly probable flood risks area in 2023 – NIHSA

The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), in its prediction of the 2023 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), with the theme “Flood Prediction and its Impact on Socio-Economic Livelihood of Nigerians” has identified Jigawa and other 31 states of the federation and the FCT as states that fall within the highly probable flood risks areas for 2023.

The report stated that floods in highly probable flood-risk states are expected to be high in terms of impact on the population, agriculture, livelihood, livestock, Infrastructure and the environment between April and November.

According to the report, Nigeria has traditionally focused on post-disaster flood response rather than risk control that can lessen the impacts of the disaster.

The agency called for an efficient national flood early warning system which needs to be implemented at various governing levels: Federal, State and Local, in order to truly address Nigeria’s flood situation.

What is the state government doing?

The ICIR  visited various communities in Jigawa to examine government mitigation plans ahead of probable flooding in 2023.

(I) Rehabilitation of destroyed roads and bridges 

The ICIR observed that the government has started rehabilitating some roads and bridges destroyed by last year’s flood in some communities.

During a visit to one of the roads destroyed by flood, Auyo Kafin Hausa road, The ICIR observed that the government has already commenced its rehabilitation. An Engineer with Retercha and Co. Nigeria Limited, a company in charge of the rehabilitation, Usman Mohammed, told The ICIR  the rehabilitation would be completed before the rainy season commences fully.

A broken bridge under construction in Auyo, Jigawa state./ The ICIR.
A broken bridge under construction in Auyo, Jigawa state./ The ICIR.

“So far now as you are seeing, we will go more with the filling, and our target is to complete the project before the next rainy season. Gradually now, the work is going very fast, and you see now everything is ready. We bring our iron and all the items we need for this, including the culverts.“

Adamu Issa, a community resident, told The ICIR that the deteriorated condition of the road has posed challenges for the residents in terms of mobility. He emphasised that the rehabilitation process should have been initiated much earlier. 

Issa urged the government to expedite the work to prevent it from becoming a major inconvenience for the residents when the rainy season arrives.

(II) Dredging of Hadejia River 

The River Hadejia in the state is known for overflowing every rainy season. In 2018, no fewer than 30 people died due to flooding within the river, destroying over 68,000 hectares of farmlands. About 421 communities across Jahun, Miga, Auyo, Kafin Hausa, Guri, and Hadejia LGAs were severely affected. 

Amphibious excavators for the dredging of Hadejia river/ The ICIR
Amphibious excavators for the dredging of Hadejia river/ The ICIR

Meanwhile, during a visit to the river, The ICIR observed that the government has procured two amphibious excavators worth N645 million, according to the state government, for the river’s dredging. 

An amphibious excavator is a specialised machine used for river dredging. It can operate in waterlogged or marshy areas and is equipped with dredging attachments to remove sediment, silt, and debris from the riverbed and increase the capacity of the river to carry water during heavy rainfall or flood events. 

Dredging also improves the natural drainage capacity of rivers. By clearing the channel, water can flow more freely and efficiently, minimising the chances of water pooling or becoming trapped in certain areas. This helps prevent localised flooding caused by inadequate drainage.

Umar Isa, one of the operators of the dam, told The ICIR that the height of the water in the dam used to oscillate between 45-50 meters, but it went up beyond their expectations in 2022 when it rose to 65 metres.

Umar Issa

He, however, said the government is actively implementing measures to mitigate the potential reoccurrence of such incidents in the future. “That is the reason behind the provision of excavators, which will aid in clearing waterways from debris and vegetation, as well as excavating sand and sediment from dams to ensure improved water flow,” Issa said.

Isa recalled that the dredging commenced earlier in May 2023 after the dam site’s assessment by the federal government’s delegations for the commissioning of the excavator machine by government agencies.

(III) Construction of drainages 

Following the 2022 flooding, the Jigawa state government, through the Ministry of Environment, awarded contracts for the construction of nine drainage projects in seven Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.

The benefitting LGAs are Hadejia, Babura, Birniwa, Dutse, Bubura, Miga and Kafin Hausa. Also, the benefitting contractors are Samplus Nigeria Limited, Tasiu Investment Limited, General Enterprises Limited, Triacta Limited and SDY Nigeria Limited.

A drainage project situated at Danmasara in Dutse Local Government

The ICIR visited the seven Local Government Areas where the projects are situated, and findings show that all of them have been executed except the one N600 million project situated at Danmasara in Dutse that is still ongoing. 

However, while the projects would help in allowing the free passage of water during the rainy season, the indiscriminate dumping of refuse inside the gutter could impede the free flow of water and undermine the essence of the project.

Residents begin to dump refuse in a drainage project located in Babura Local Government

Residents who spoke with The ICIR expressed optimism that the projects would allow the free flow of water during the rainy season and help to mitigate destruction by erosion and flood.

NEMA says residents ignore early warning

The Coordinator Kano and Jigawa Territorial Office, National Emergency Management Agency, Nurudeen Abdullahi, told The ICIR that the agency has begun engagement with stakeholders to ensure the implementation of preventive measures in line with this year’s prediction and outlook.

He explained that the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency has produced the annual flood outlook, which shows that there is a possibility of a high amount of rainfall this year, which may lead to flooding in some parts of the country. 

He noted that the agency released names of local government areas that may face the risk of flooding this year.

He said the agencies also outline mitigation plans and strategies for the state government agencies to protect the lives and properties from impending floods.

“So, that was part of what we discussed during our meetings and engagements. How to identify safer grounds, because a lot of people have gone back to that place. NEMA is not an enforcement agency; NEMA works with the state emergency management agency. The act that established NEMA is the same act that established the state emergency agency. Ours is to coordinate and inform them, educate them, and we are doing it. So the government, the state government, has to take appropriate action on that kind of issue.”

He appealed to the residents to adhere to the early warning messages and listen to the authorities.

“People don’t agree with the early warning messages and advice. If you tell some people to leave this place because it is a lower land, move from that place. Somebody will tell you my forefathers were born here and were buried here. I don’t want to leave this place but when disaster comes, it doesn’t know about your forefathers that were buried here, it will strike you. And then you will be calling governments and people will start accusing the government that they are doing nothing while the government is doing its best.”

State Government reacts 

When contacted, the Executive Secretary of Jigawa State Emergency Management Agency, Yusuf Sani Babura confirmed that the state government has purchased two dredging machines and commenced dredging of Hadejia River to clear the waterway and prevent overflowing.

“They are working day and night dredging the river to remove the grasses blocking the waterways, ” he said.

He also said the state government is collaborating with experts from the Netherlands to find a solution to the flooding.

He accused the residents of refusing to move to high lands despite financial support from the state government.

“When it comes to politics, people don’t always react to what the government is saying. Even land has been provided to them at the upper land, and money was given to them to go and construct houses and transfer from the former one, but unfortunately, most of them do not want to cooperate with the government. Some of them have moved while some of them refuse, and that’s the problem we are facing.”

The Director of Flood and Erosion Control, Jigawa state ministry of Environment, Ado Yusuf explained that the state is battling river and coastal flooding. 

He said one of the factors that caused destructive flooding in 2022 was that the water in the dam was not released for irrigation purposes, which later led to an excessive increase in the volume of water in the dam during the rainy season.

“So, the major problem there last year was because the water was not released from the dam at all throughout last year because of the activities being carried out at Kadawa and Hadejia irrigation programme at Auyo and as a result of that, the water level increased within a short period of time and it started coming out.”

Yusuf, however, said the government has improved the dry season irrigation this year, releasing the water for farming purposes to reduce the volume.

“To avoid what happened last year. We have started talking to them, and they have started releasing the water at about 20cm cube per second, and we are still talking to them to increase it to 80cm cube per second so that the water would not come out like last year.”

He explained that the government has formed a flood mitigation committee which is working on identifying high grounds where citizens can be evacuated if the situation warrants it.

He noted that the government has commenced the dredging of the river channels with amphibious machines and also ensure effective control of the diversion of the water channels by the construction of dykes.

Yusuf added that the government would make provisions for control gates in some locations, enabling them to open water from the dam when they want to use it for irrigation and close it back after use.

According to him, lack of drainages and poor management of drainages by citizens, which prevent water from flowing when it rains, as one of the major factors that led to destruction by flood last year, noting that the government has started building drainages in several parts of the state.

He advised the residents of the state living in riverine areas to avoid farming along river banks as it causes diversion of water, which often leads to flooding.

Preventing flood

Speaking with The ICIR, an environmentalist and founder of Plogging Nigeria, Mayokun Iyaomolere blamed the government for not providing resettlement for flood victims, citing this as the reason some of the victims go back to the flood-prone communities despite the risk.

“It is their community, it’s their heritage, it’s their source, it’s where some people have known all their life. It’s where some people were born. It’s where they have grown, schooled, where they have made a living, it’s where they are still making a living. They go back to their communities with this hope that it will not happen again or it will not happen again so soon,” Mayokun said.

He added that “If there are no provisions for resettlement areas for people to relocate to and actually get help to rediscover their lives, they are most likely to go back because they had to leave because of the danger at the time of being affected by the water directly leading to death in their state, but now that the water has subsided and they observed for few weeks, few months, they will go back”. 






     

     

    He said the government needs to declare flood-prone areas such as river banks as red zones and put a measure or system that would prevent the residents from returning to such areas. He pointed out the need for the government to support its residents through loans, money gifts or donations to resettle to other areas.

    ”The areas that are closed to the river should be declared as red zone and people should not be allowed to live in those areas even if they have been staying there before.,” he said.

    He added that early warnings should be given and the information transmitted using local languages.

    On the overflowing of the Hadejia River, he urged the government to dredge all possible parts of the river and build embankments across the possible areas to prevent the water from going to some particular locations, this is in addition to building channels for water to flow freely within communities and ensure proper planning that would be adhered to strictly.

    Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in society. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.

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