‘It’s never been this bad’: Floods in Nigeria submerge entire communities
Nigeria experienced its worst flooding in a decade this October, resulting in the deaths of at least 600 people. With homes and public buildings inundated, more than a million people have been displaced. According to our Observer, who has been helping impacted communities, the floods have had wide-ranging effects –from food insecurity to fuel shortages.
More than 2 million people and 200,000 homes have been affected by the severe floods, according to Nigeria’s humanitarian affairs ministry. Communities along the River Niger and River Benue have been particularly impacted as water levels rose up to 13 metres.
Videos show homes and businesses entirely submerged, as well as people wading through waist-high water or using canoes to travel around.
Lokoja, Nigeria pic.twitter.com/YhKo280oKN— ち (@emekaaa_) October 9, 2022
Azikoro Agbura road pic.twitter.com/0vQi0Gb9Pz— Bayelsa|Warri Twytter Queen 👑🌈 (@BrayelaLayefa) October 14, 2022
‘I had to pack my things and leave’
Layefa Oboh is a student and entrepreneur from Yenagoa, located in Bayelsa State, in the heart of the Niger Delta region. At least 700,000 people in the state have been displaced.
It started with the schools closing down and then the flooding reached the homes and farmlands. The water reached storage places where people were storing their produce: cassava, plantains, harvested peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, everything. My own house was flooded, I had to pack my things and leave. There are a lot of people displaced from their homes. They can’t live there anymore because the floods have taken over. They are staying in schools that weren’t taken over by the floods, or setting up tents on high lands.
On our way to one of the make shift IDP camp we had to enter boat to cross over, some of the community persons can't afford to pay so they cross with their legs. You'd see that the high tension is very close to the water.#FloodInBayelsa pic.twitter.com/1frXY910oE— Bayelsa|Warri Twytter Queen 👑🌈 (@BrayelaLayefa) October 17, 2022
#FloodInBayelsa— Yeri Dekumo (@YeriDekumo) October 18, 2022
This is Igbogene in Yenagoa Bayelsa State. We move about with canoe in some parts of the state capital. pic.twitter.com/Vmqlba0zTc
Some parts of Nigeria experience yearly floods, brought on by heavy rains as well as the release of water from a dam in neighbouring Cameroon. In mid-September, Cameroonian authorities began releasing excess water from the reservoir, causing it to flow through the River Benue into Nigeria. Nigeria planned to build a buffer dam downstream in 1982, but it has yet to be completed.
There is a memorandum of understanding between the two countries which aims to prevent flooding disasters related to the opening of the dam, but many argue that authorities aren’t doing enough to avert risk.
This is Oporoma Community, headquarters of Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa State.— Yeri Dekumo (@YeriDekumo) October 17, 2022
You can see the water overflowing massively from the River into the community. This is similar with what's happening in over 300 Communities across the State.#FloodInBayelsa pic.twitter.com/9F24pjic1x
Climate change, which disproportionately affects sub-Saharan Africa, has also been blamed for the particularly heavy rainfall this year, coming at the end of Nigeria’s rainy season.
We have experienced floods before but it has never been this bad. You can’t use a vehicle anymore, you have to use boats to come and go. It’s very dangerous. I even knew someone who tried it and the floods took her away and she is dead now. When you’re in a canoe you see a lot of death on the water. You see dangerous reptiles, sometimes even dead bodies. There have been reports of people missing and then a day or two later their bodies float back.
We have no electricity, price of fuel keeps increasing amidst scarcity, the water level keeps increasing, more persons are being displaced.— Bayelsa|Warri Twytter Queen 👑🌈 (@BrayelaLayefa) October 18, 2022
Send help, be your brothers keeper#FloodInBayelsa pic.twitter.com/ZLnXrjiCxc
Numerous people have died trying to escape the floods. In the state of Anambra, 76 people died when their boat capsized on October 7.
The disaster has also raised concerns of impending health and humanitarian crises, as communities are dealing with shortages of basic goods and clean water. Corpses, trash and sewage in the water present further health risks to people who have to wade through flooded streets.
With 110,00 hectares of farmland destroyed, Nigeria’s farmers have warned of price increases.
‘The little we have in this state is being hoarded’
Oboh says the floods had an immediate effect on prices:
It has brought about outrageous inflation in the prices of foodstuffs and water. We normally have [drinking] water coming in from other states but now goods can’t be brought in. The flood has destroyed the road from Delta State into Bayelsa State. The little we have in this state is being hoarded. People sell things to you at outrageous prices. We’re also facing a scarcity of fuel. Before we could get petrol at 180 nairas per litre [0.42 euros], but today I bought fuel for 550 per litre [1.28 euros]. It’s outrageous.
Flood broke the road in half in Bayelsa, cutting the access of an inland community (Amassoma) from the state capital (Yenegoa). They get their major supplies from the capital.😩😭... @ChifeDr @firstladyship @ChudeMedia pic.twitter.com/iV2JH1dCce— Kelechi Nworie (@kmnworie) October 13, 2022
#BayelsaFloodUpdates— Fortune God'sSon Alfred 🇳🇬 (@HRFKingFGA) October 15, 2022
Due to the flood pushed inflation in Bayelsa State that has also led to fuel scarcity, a Custard rubber of Garri(the staple food) is now TWO THOUSAND NAIRA and rising.#floodinNigeria #FloodInBayelsa#Floods #watershedding pic.twitter.com/LnL0s12LPL
This is d road leading to Bayelsa from Rivers State. People can't move in nor out of Bayelsa state as the roads have been destroyed by the ravaging flood. Please retweet, let people know what's happening in Bayelsa state. We're suffering 😭😭 #FloodInBayelsa #Regha #Speedy #Burna pic.twitter.com/9nWO06a6Of— Janice Melvin (@janey_mel2) October 16, 2022
‘We have not seen any help from anybody or received any form of relief materials’
The government says they have released money, they have bought things, but the people have not received any of this. We have not seen any help from anybody or received any form of relief materials. My friends and I and some other individuals are using the little money we have and what we have got from public donations to buy things and go to the makeshift IDP camps and share relief materials.
@EniboAlbertFDN and @NativePreacher_ in conjunction with @MuturuTimipa, @BrayelaLayefa, @donjay_c and @EP_Berezi went out today again to reach out to #FloodInBayelsa victims in three IDP camps, one at Edepie and two at Akenfa by giving sachet water, drugs, pads and insecticides. pic.twitter.com/pmTyvIIME3— Enibo Albert (@enibo_albert) October 17, 2022
Today I bought a few medicines and sanitary pads and went to one of the make shift IDP camp to give the little I can,myself @NativePreacher_ @donjay_c @enibo_albert @MuturuTimipa, I hope to do more soon. pic.twitter.com/oCDSGbxDf1— Bayelsa|Warri Twytter Queen 👑🌈 (@BrayelaLayefa) October 15, 2022
The last time that Nigeria experienced flooding on this scale was in 2012. The estimated cost of the damage caused by floods that year was at least 17 billion euros.