By Lizzy Okoji
Needs among flood-affected communities are rising as five new states have been added to the list of states whose flood related concerns had been declared a national emergency.
An approximate 602,000 people have been displaced and 1.9 million are affected, according to the latest numbers released by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
According to an assessment conducted by Nigerian Red Cross, food, essential household items, as well as basic health and sanitation are among the most urgent needs.
Mr Dan Usman, Branch Secretary of the Nigerian Red Cross in Kogi State said that communities have lost everything – all their farmland is submerged.
“They have left their homes and they have nowhere to go, people are managing to eat one meal a day now – honestly, it’s devastating,” Usman said.
The Nigerian Red Cross has conducted an assessment in communities across four of the worst affected states – Anambra, Delta, Kogi and Niger with support from an international team of experts from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Many houses have been submerged and IDPs are taking refuge in schools, hospitals and other upland buildings where government is supporting some basic needs.
In places like Patani, Delta State, the only area upland is on Patani-Ughelli expressway where small shanties have been built near a swamp to house the influx of people.
Florence Apa, a person who is disabled in Patani IDP Camp, said that although the location of the camp was not the best, it was the only upland available for them to move in.
“For my condition, it is very difficult for me because when my son is out looking for what we would eat, I cannot get up to my wheelchair on my own.
“We are here not because we want to, but because our houses have been flooded and this is the only option that we have.”
“I hope we can find another place which would be a bit more comfortable while they wait for the water to recede,”Apa said.
Kwale camp is one of the most congested in the state, which has put major strains on the ability to deliver enough relief supplies to cater to the large numbers of IDPs.
Johnbull Imunoh, a businessman said that most of the IDPs in the camp spread their cloths to sleep on in the corridors because the classroom halls cannot accommodate anymore people.
“As you can see, there is no way to walk through in the hall, it is overcrowded it puts us at risk of getting contagious diseases.
“Already, we have recorded several cases of malaria, and now, some of them are having different kind of skin infections but there is no antifungal creams for treatment, we need urgent help,” Imunoh said.
Dr Michael Alawei, Patani Local Government Primary Health Care doctor in charge of the Patani IDPs camp said that cases of malaria have been rising every day because of the stagnant water.
“At the moment, the most prevalent illness we have is malaria but because of the proactive measures we have taken, we have not recorded any mortality.
“Although, we still need more malaria drugs, especially the injectables,” Alawei said.
Abubakar Kande, Secretary General of the Nigerian Red Cross said that the NRCS is distributing emergency food and essential household items such as blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, buckets, female hygiene kits and sanitation item.
He said that they are distributing these items to more than 10,000 families across several flood-affected states, starting in Kogi followed by Anambra, Delta and Niger.
“We want to ensure that families can meet their critical basic needs right now to get them through the next several weeks and months.
“However, we know that recovery from a devastating flood like this will be a long road ahead and Red Cross will continue to do everything possible to support communities for the years to come,” Kande said.
The IFRC has launched an appeal, seeking 5.4 million Swiss Frans to enable Nigerian Red Cross to respond to 300,000 of the most vulnerable people affected by floods.