Maero had taken a loan from the women’s co-operative to be able to plant more rice in the farm her and her husband Ishaya owned. The farm was their main source of livelihood and now her and her husband have lost it all thanks to the floods.*
The relevant agencies say flood warnings were issued but according to some farmers they issued same last year and there was no flood so no one took the warnings seriously. The current flooding situation is one of the worst Nigeria has witnessed and as I listened to different news sources I began to ponder on all that had gone wrong and its implications in different sectors. Currently the death toll is over 600 and thousands of people have been displaced. Here are a few things my contemplations on this flooding brought to bear.
Disaster Management : According to people like Olasunkanmi Okunola disaster management is like clapping with one hand- highy ineffective. It is highly reactive and often painfully slow. In places like Bayelsa flood warning though given did not reach some people in certain communities. Also, beyond the warning the government seems to have left relocation up to the individuals giving them little or no support. In one report from Aljazeera Peremoboere Geku had to suddenly move to a camp with about 200 displaced people in Bayelsa said they had only received two bags of rice, a bag of garri and some condiments, most of their aid came from individuals.
Environmental issues. Flooding is like a vicious cycle…from my understand apart from man-made factors like building on flood plains, blocking of drainages, poor urban planning, lack of flood barriers etc it is also caused by environmental issues and is the cause of further environmental issues. Recently the Nigerian Federal Government approved a Revised National Policy on the Environment. The policy seems quite robust as it covers issues such as pollution, coastal erosion, climate change, desertification, land erosion etc. However, as is the case with a myriad of policies in Nigeria implementation seems totally lacking. What is the Government at all levels actually doing to ensure that the man-made issues that could exacerbate such issues are kept at a minimum.
Financial issues: The damage this flood has done to the financial sector is manifold. At a time where government is doing it’s best to drive financial inclusion small financial institutions in the flood ravaged issues will struggle to survive. Also farmers and other people whose investments have been literally drowned will be riddled with debts they cannot pay. Both the institutions and the individuals will need financial assistance and fast too.
Mental Health issues: Imagine losing all your earthly possessions and having to move to a camp you share with 54 other families where you and 200 other people have to share two toilet and scare commodities. Peremoboere Geku is facing such and like she told Aljazeera “ My mental health has been badly affected. According to Stanke et al, Foudi et al flood survivors often times experience substantial psychsocial effects like anxiety, depression . ptsd and other social dysfunctions. There is therefore a need for counselling for those who have been effected.
Public Health issues: One major concern has been in this area. Flooding is a catalyst for the outbreak of all sorts of waterborne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, typhoid fever and leptospirosis. Other ways it impacts health are through drowning, hypothermia, bites from reptiles etc (Du et all 2010). With a deficit in medical personnel and inability to reach some victims there are fears that the high mortality rate may increase. Also with the flood waters yet to recede the risk of outbreaks of the aforementioned diseases is still high.
There are so many issues which this flood has brought and I do hope that next year it’s not the same story. I pray that those at the forefront of making and implementing the polcies that can alleviate such disasters do something radically different and that people’s lives and sources of livelihood are preserved.