The International Organisation for Migration has warned that 4.2 million Nigerians are at risk of displacement as the annual rainy season intensifies in 2023.
This prediction is part of the IOM’s 2023 Nigeria Response Overview Disaster Preparedness Plan issued in response to the country’s growing threat of climate-induced disaster.
According to the report, an estimated $20m will be needed to secure the most vulnerable populations against the inevitable floods through shelter and relocation efforts from May to October.
“The funds would be used for immediate rescue missions and longer-term resettlement and rehabilitation initiatives,” the IOM said.
Although Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is no stranger to seasonal floods, the 2022 floods, which, according to UNICEF, affected 3.2 million people (including 1.9 million children), is the worst in a decade.
The National Emergency Management Agency said the 2012 flood disaster, the worst in over 40 years, displaced nearly 2.3 million people, killed 363, and destroyed or damaged about 597,476 houses.
In October 2022, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development revealed that floods displaced over 1.4 million people, killed over 603 persons and injured more than 2,400 persons. Also, over 82,035 houses were damaged, with 676,000 hectares of farmlands affected.
Seven hundred thousand of the displaced persons were in Bayelsa State, where floods submerged about 300 communities after torrential rains.
In Jigawa, the worst-hit of the 34 states affected, over 257 health facilities and schools were destroyed between August and November 2022.
In Kogi, a critical confluence state, flood waters submerged major interstate roads and damaged essential infrastructure such as bridges, schools, hospitals and residential buildings.
This led to significant supply chain disruptions that sparked a temporal petrol scarcity in the Federal Capital Territory and other regions up north.
Seventy-six persons died when a boat conveying them from the flooded Ogbaru area of Anambra State capsized.
In view of the upcoming rainy season, IOM said, “It is preparing to implement a set of early actions to improve the preparedness and response capacities of government authorities and community members as well as strengthen the coping mechanisms.”
It says although the Nigerian government “has been making efforts to improve disaster preparedness, such as setting up early warning systems and strengthening the capacity of local communities to respond to such calamities, these initiatives often fall short due to limited resources and the sheer scale of the challenge.”
On its part, NEMA said it had begun implementing a series of steps in its Risk Management and Mitigation Strategy developed early in 2023 to curtail a repeat of the 2022 crisis.
This includes “a series of engagements to bring all the stakeholders to their role,” NEMA’s Information Officer, Manzo Ezekiel, told Sunday PUNCH.