Flooding in Nigeria Kills 603, Displaces More Than 1.3 Million
The worst flooding in Nigeria in a decade has killed more than 600 people, destroyed more than 200,000 homes and forced more than 1.3 million to flee.
The government has blamed the ongoing disaster on extreme rainfall and the climate crisis, as well as dam releases related to the heavy precipitation, as BBC News reported. Climate change makes severe rainfall events more likely in part because warmer air contains more moisture.
“The scale of the flood disaster across the country is colossal,” National Emergency Management Agency Director General Mustapha Habib Ahmed said in a statement shared on Twitter.
The rainy season in Nigeria typically lasts from April to October, according to NASA. The current flooding is due to the accumulation of heavy rain since the early summer as well as a release of water from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon, Reuters reported. The floods are the nation’s worst since 2012, according to CNN. However, both the water levels and the death toll this year are higher. A decade ago, water levels reached 42 feet while the most recent measurement reported by CNN was 43 feet. The 2012 floods saw 363 dead and 600,000 displaced, but the current totals are around double that.
“Unfortunately, over 603 lives have been lost as of today October 16, 2022,” the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouq said in a statement shared on Twitter. “A total of 1,302,589 persons have been displaced, 2,504.095 persons have been affected, on the whole, 2,407 persons have been injured, a total of 82,053 houses are completely damaged and 121,318 are partially damaged. 108,392 hectares of farmland were partially destroyed while 332,327 hectares were destroyed including many roads and other critical infrastructure.”
Flooding is present in 27 of Nigeria’s 36 states, according to Reuters. However, some of the worst is in the state of Kogi, its governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello said, as CNN reported.
Satellite images shared by NASA October 13 showed the Niger and Benue rivers swamping the state’s capital of Lokoja.
“I have never seen such a thing,” city resident Khalid Yahaya Othman told Reuters.
He said the flood waters had even covered his fuel tanks.
The flooding has also been extensive in the northern part of the state of Anambra, immediately south of Koji, where it has displaced 600,000 people, according to NASA.
“It’s saddening. All of a sudden, people are left with no homes and turned to beggars in weeks. No matter how rich they were, the displacement has reduced them so much,” Anambra registered nurse Chiamaka Ibeanu told The Washington Post.
It’s a dire scenario that could become increasingly common in the future. The government’s 2020 climate change dossier predicted that the country will see more flooding as waters warm, but many states don’t have the up-to-date infrastructure that would help them adapt. On an individual level, people often live in floodplains but don’t have the money to relocate, forcing them to return to homes that will only flood again once the waters recede, BBC News reported.