Nigeria’s Floods Are a National Emergency With Global Implications

Nigeria’s Floods Are a National Emergency With Global Implications
Floodwaters partially submerge houses in a residential area in Bayelsa, Nigeria, Oct. 20, 2022 (AP photo by Reed Joshua).

Nigeria’s worst flooding in at least a decade has overrun hundreds of communities in Africa’s most populous country. Sporadic floods have been occurring locally for months, since the rainy season began in April. But they intensified in September and have since struck the vast majority of the country. The flooding is now expected to continue until the end of the rainy season, which should arrive in the coming weeks. But the impact of the floods will take much longer to repair.

The extent of the floods and the damage they have caused is staggering. The disaster has claimed more than 600 lives and displaced approximately 1.4 million people. The flooding has caused the partial or total destruction of more than 200,000 houses and damaged or destroyed nearly 1 million acres of farmland. Nearly 1 in 10 Nigerian residents and 34 of Nigeria’s 36 states have been affected, making it a nationwide emergency.

UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s fund, said that more than 2.5 million people in Nigeria are in need of humanitarian assistance, 60 percent of them children, who face an increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition. In the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, at least 7,485 cases of cholera and 319 associated deaths have already been reported as of Oct. 12, and rains are expected to continue for several weeks, which is almost certain to worsen the humanitarian impact of the floods.

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