The United Nations Children’s Fund warned on Friday that the country’s widespread flooding was contributing to an increase in cases of skin diseases, water-borne illnesses, and respiratory infections.
As it warned that children were also at risk of malnutrition, it also stated that more than 2.5 million people—60% of whom are children—need humanitarian assistance.
Geoffrey Njoku, a communications and advocacy specialist at UNICEF, made a statement that included these. He bemoaned the fact that 34 out of the country’s 36 states had been affected by the floods, and more than 1.3 million people had been left homeless.
The statement quoted UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria, Christian Munduate, as saying, “Over 600 people have lost their lives and over 200,000 houses have either been partially or fully damaged. Cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been on the rise.
“In the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe alone, a total of 7,485 cases of cholera and 319 associated deaths were reported as of 12 October. As rains are expected to continue for several weeks, humanitarian needs are also expected to rise.
“Children and adolescents in flood-affected areas are in an extremely vulnerable situation. They are particularly at risk of water-borne diseases and emotional and psychological distress.”
The UN body said it was working closely with the government and other partners to provide life-saving assistance to those mostly in need, adding that the floods were adding another layer of complexity to an already precarious humanitarian situation in the country.
It noted, “Immediate priority needs for children include health, water, sanitation, and hygiene; as well as shelter and food. Additional funding and resources are required to respond to growing needs and to sustain ongoing humanitarian interventions, with a focus on the most vulnerable, including children with disabilities.”
According to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index, Nigeria is considered to be at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of climate change, ranking second out of 163 countries.
It added, “Children in extremely high risk countries face a deadly combination of exposure to multiple climate and environmental shocks combined with high levels of underlying child vulnerability, due to inadequate essential services, such as water and sanitation, healthcare and education.”
The statement stressed that with additional support, UNICEF could scale up its response in other states as it had done in some states, including Jigawa, Niger, and Kaduna.
Snakes invade varsity
In Benue State, one of the states affected by the flood, the Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi, formerly known as Federal University of Agriculture, has lamented the devastating effects of flooding on the institution.
The university’s Public Relations Officer, Mrs Rosemary Waku, told one of our correspondents on Friday that the flood destroyed all the machines in the Waterworks Department and that snakes and other reptiles had invaded the school premises.
She stated, “The flood affected the Department of Waterworks because it’s close to the river, all our machines were destroyed. Due to the prolonged strike (by the Academic Staff Union of Universities), we do not have a corporate farm else it would have been submerged. As I talk to you, the school environment is being fumigated due to invasion of snakes and other reptiles.
“Many of our staff entered their offices and saw snakes and other reptiles, that is the reason the management ordered the fumigation of the school environment so that by Monday both staff and students would resume fully.”
Waku said she could not estimate the monetary value of what the institution lost to the flood.
Eight schools affected
Meanwhile, efforts by ANAEDOONLINE.NG to know the number of schools affected by the flood were not successful, as the state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Leva Akuma, said there was no formal report on it yet.
He however mentioned the eight primary schools he was aware of, including LGEA Primary School Tacha; LGEA Primary School Mbamtsaa; LGEA Primary School Otsaazi, Katsina Ala Local Government Area; Normadic Primary School Agbentse; Normadic Primary School Igyungu-Abua; NKST Primary School, Igba, Kwande LGA; RCM Primary School Ordue; and NKST Primary School Torbanger. He declined further comments.
Varsities suspend resumption
In Bayelsa State, three universities, Niger Delta University, Amassoma; Federal University, Otuoke; and the University of Africa, Toru-Orua, are affected by the flood. While two of them suspended resumption till the floods recede, the UAT said the floods only affected the access roads.
The state government, in anticipation of the rise in floodwater level, had in September directed all public and private primary and secondary schools to proceed on “flood break” to protect pupils and students.
While the Senate of FUO at its emergency meeting on Wednesday approved November 20 for resumption, NDU’s Committee of Provost and Deans at its meeting on October 17 resolved that resumption would be announced after the flood had receded.
A memo at FUO sighted by one of our correspondents partly read, “Unfortunately, we @FUOTUOKE cannot resume physically like our colleagues in other institutions due to the rising level of floods in our school’s terrain, as well as the enormous risk in accessing roads to the school. The university has rescheduled resumption for November 20, 2022.”
Similarly, a memo at the state-owned NDU sighted by one of our correspondents said the university’s Committee of Provost and Deans agreed that resumption for general academic activities would be announced after the flood had receded.
The document signed by the registrar, Mr Benjamin Joffa, partly read, “That a date for the full resumption of academic activities will be announced when the floodwaters recedes. That medical students in the 400, 500 and 600 levels of study will however receive classes (online) during this period in preparation for their professional examinations.”
At UAT, which did not join the ASUU strike, the Media Relations Officer, Mr Tonye Yemoleigha, said the university premises were not flooded but the access road to the school had been cut off by the flood. “The Sagbama-Ekeremor road is cut off but the university environment, which is in Toru-Orua, Sagbama, is cut off,” he said.
He explained that lecturers, who were on campus, were requested to keep students engaged.
Jonathan’s hometown submerged
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr Douye Diri, in continuation of his on-the-spot assessment of the flood situation across the state said the Otuoke hometown of former President Goodluck Jonathan had been submerged.
Diri told journalists that most of the residents had been displaced. He urged the people not to despair over the situation, noting that the state was making efforts to provide relief materials and medical assistance to the flood victims.
He added, “I am in Ogbia, precisely at the residence of the former president of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. You can see the degree of destruction here in Otuoke. The water current is as if there is a river here. This is what I have been saying. Bayelsa is under the attack of natural disaster.
“The whole premises of our former president and the community are under attack and this is where you also have the federal university. This situation makes the former president an IDP (internally displaced person). I use this opportunity to empathise with my leader, the former president, who has joined me as one of the IDPs because I was one of the first victims in my community.”
He offered his condolences over the demise of a military personnel attached to the residence of the former president as he also visited the former president’s mother, Eunice, in the community and assured her that the state government was with her and the people of Otuoke.
Dickson friends’ donation
A few days after the senator representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District and former governor of the state, Seriake Dickson, donated over N15m to alleviate the suffering of the flood victims, his friends have raised about N11m to support them.
The donations were made under the aegis of ‘Friends of Senator Dickson’.
Dickson said, “Following the announcement of my donation to flood victims in Bayelsa State, some of my friends called to support and as of now they have raised N11m. A number of them prefer to be anonymous. However, we will send a letter from the foundation to express my gratitude and that of our people to them.”
Anambra schools shut
All the primary and secondary schools in over 300 communities currently battling flooding in six local government areas of Anambra State are shut.
The chairman, Flood Committee, Ogbaru, Chief Ogochukwu Nwasike, told one of our correspondents in Awka that the affected communities include those in Ogbaru, Anambra West, Anambra East Awka North and Anyamelum local government areas.
Before the flooding became intense, the state government through the Commissioner for Education, Prof Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, announced the closure of all public primary and secondary schools in the riverine areas.
The students of Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro, had been asked by the authorities to go on a compulsory two-week holiday effective from Friday, October 14 following the flood.
Delta’s ecological funds
Meanwhile, the state government has said it is yet to receive ecological funds from the Federal Government.
The Secretary to the State Government and chairman of the 2022 Flood Disaster Management Committee, Chief Patrick Ukah, disclosed this while speaking on the efforts by the state government to mitigate the harsh and negative effects of the ravaging floods on the citizens. “Delta State is yet to receive ecological funds from the Federal Government,” he stated.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance ahead of the 2023 general elections, Chief Great Ogboru, in a statement on Friday called on the federal and state governments to act swiftly in support of the teeming flood victims in the state “before it gets out of hand”.
FG provides succour
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday expressed the Federal Government’s concern over the recent flooding of farmsteads in parts of the country, restating support to the affected farmers.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, the vice-president spoke during a meeting with the management of Olam industries.
He commiserated with Olam and other agricultural companies over their losses occasioned by the flooding.
He said, “The flooding of the Olam rice farm in Nasarawa State is obviously a huge loss not just to Olam but also a big blow to food security in our country, as the farm is one of the single largest rice farms in the country.
“We as a government are obliged to work with you to restore that important agricultural resource and I’m sure that as we engage, we will be able to find the opportunities and ways by which we can assist in bringing that resource back to full service.
“Only yesterday, the National Economic Council, which I have the privilege to chair, agreed to constitute a special committee on flooding especially as it relates to food security. We are going to be looking at all of the ways by which we can work with farms and agricultural companies and how they are affected by flooding.
“I think Olam’s situation is one that will come before us and we will consider not just how to support, but to prevent these sorts of occurrences in the future and of course, how to advise the President on what steps to take.”
He commended the company for the hard work and commitment to agriculture and food processing in Nigeria.
The Country Head, Olam Agri, Mr Ashish Pande, said the company would continue to support the Federal Government’s aspiration of developing the agric sector by building the value chain to improve food exports as well as create more jobs for Nigerians.
One of the highlights of the occasion was the unveiling of the “Seeds for the Future” memorabilia by the vice president.
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