Nigeria: When the Floods Came

Nigeria: When the Floods Came

Nigeria: When the Floods Came

Nigeria: When the Floods Came

Fear, worry, and anxiety—these are some of the emotions felt by residents of several communities in Kaduna, especially during the rainy season.

Many Kaduna communities are prone to flooding, and residents have also dealt with its devastating consequences in recent years. 

The Oyedokuns’ home in Gbadamosi Street, Dorino in Kabala West, Kaduna South LGA, had been badly affected by the floods that occurred in 2021. 48-year-old Omowunmi Oyedokun, who had lived in the area with her husband and eight children for several years, was deeply concerned about what would happen to their homes when the rainy season arrived in 2022. 

“In October 2021, the year before the intervention, in the middle of the night, my neighbour ran to my door, knocking and shouting, Mama Bobo, Mama Bobo, where are you? Come out ooh!! Water don enter the house.” 

This jolted the Oyedokuns from sleep, and they soon realized that water had begun seeping into their tiny apartment and had started soaking up the mattress, chairs, and other valuable belongings. Omowunmi quickly backed her youngest child and, together with the rest of the family, started rescuing the items they could. It was a stressful and trying time for them. Omowumi recalled the impact the situation had on her oldest daughter’s, Anike’s, mental health as she refused to eat anything for two full days. The floods of 2021 caused a lot of stress for the family. 

My oldest daughter, Anike, sobbed for two days straight! She could not eat anything as a result of the stress and the thought of us losing our valuables. I did not know what to do. My younger sister came and took my two youngest children to go and stay with her, as her neighborhood was not affected by the floods, while the rest of us tried to sort ourselves out. She called me later that evening and said that the children had suddenly fallen ill, and she suspected it was as a result of the floods. You know, the floods bring with it dirt, and these little ones are prone to sickness as a result

After the terrible floods of 2021, the Oyedokuns were worried about what would happen when the rainy season came in 2022. They did not have the resources to relocate or prepare adequately, despite the devastating effects the floods had on their family in 2021. 

Thankfully, the Oyedokuns and their next-door neighbour, 53-year-old Abubakar Abdullahi, were among the families selected as beneficiaries of the European Commission (ECHO) cash transfer programme for flood-prone people. When they received the money, the two families pooled their resources to erect a stone wall around their apartment. This stone wall helped the two households mitigate the consequences of the floods in 2022. 

“We don’t have money to move from this area to higher ground yet, but this stone hedge has really been helpful. Do you know that water did not enter our homes last year? It was this stone that blocked it.” 

A community leader in Dorino, Kabala West, Kaduna South, Abdulwaheed Tijani, confirmed that several residents in the area who had received cash grants from ECHO used the money to build stone barriers to help mitigate the side effects of the flood. 

According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria experienced the worst flooding in the past ten years in 2022, displacing 1.4 million people and resulting in 600 fatalities. In 2020, the flooding also had devastating impacts (more than 129, 000 people were displaced; 68 were killed), and 320 local government areas in 35 states—including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)—were affected. 

But the floods of 2022 claimed no lives in Kaduna. Part of the reason attributed to this is that many residents were adequately prepared, thanks to funds received from the cash transfer programme. 

40-year-old Helen James, a small time trader and mother of three, resides with her family in a lowland area close to the Romi River in Koro Street, Romi, Chikun LGA, Kaduna State. 

After the devastating effects the floods of 2021 had on their homes, farmlands and their farm animals, Helen was concerned about how her family would get by if such an event ever occurred again. The floods of 2021 had made them squat with neighbours who were not affected, and it destroyed many of their valuables.  

Every aspect of her family’s life had been impacted by the floods of 2021, including their home, their means of livelihood, and the schooling of their children. 

My life and the lives of my children were at a standstill.” My small business was severely impacted, and my children were unable to go to school at the time.” 

After receiving 35,000 naira as part of ECHO’s 2022 flood response, Helen and her family used some of the funds to rent an apartment soon before the floods. 

I invested a portion of the funds in my small business, and I used the rest of the money to rent an apartment in an upland area in Romi, which is not usually affected by flooding. We remained there till the flooding ceased. All the while, my family and I were safe.

In 2022, with funding from the European Commission (ECHO), UNICEF, through its implementing partner, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, delivered cash grants of 35,000 naira each in the ‘Shock Responsive Social Protection Program for Persons Affected by Flood’ to the most vulnerable families residing in flood-prone areas of Kaduna State. The money given to residents to help them prepare for the floods has contributed in no small way to significantly improving their quality of life.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF Nigeria.