Anxiety as NEMA predicts flood of fury

  • 13 states, 50 communities to witness heavy rainfall, flooding in September
  • Experts predict food shortage, trauma, worsening health care


Uba Group

The National Emergency Management Agency has warned that 13 states and 50 communities, mainly up North, are likely to witness heavy rainfall that may lead to flooding between September 13 and 17.

The Lagos Territorial Coordinator of NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos.

Farinloye listed the states and communities to include Kano State, with communities like Sumaila and Kunchi, likely to be affected.

He also said that Kebbi State, with communities like Argungu, and Katsina State, with Bindawa, Jibia, Kaita, Katsina communities would be affected.

Other states he said were Niger, with Kontagora, Mashegu, and New Bussa communities, as well as Kwara State, and Kosubosu community.

“Zamfara State, with such communities as Kaura Namoda and Shinkafi; Bauchi State, with Bajoga, Darazo, Kirfi, Azare, Jama ‘are, Itas, Misau; Taraba, with Bali, Donga, Lau, Serti, Mutum-Biyu, Yorro, and Borno State, with Briyel, Biu, Dikwa, Kukawa will be affected,” he said.

He also said that Adamawa with Ganye, Mubi, Demsa, Jimeta, Mayo Belwa, Numan, Shelleng, Song, communities as well as Yobe, with Dapchi, Gashua, Geidam, Kannamma, Machina, Potiskum would be affected.

Gombe State with Nafada and Jigawa, with Dutse, Gumel, Gwaram, Miga communities were the other states and communities the territorial coordinator said would be affected.

Farinloye added that due to the rise in the water levels of Rivers Benue and Niger, communities along the two Rivers, up to Bayelsa were advised to take precautionary measures in the coming days.

He acknowledged the National Flood Early Warning Systems Central Hub, Federal Ministry of Environment Abuja in its predictions.

As floodwaters ravage villages and towns in Nigeria, there are worries over the increase in mental health disorders, chronic diseases, malnutrition, and disruption in healthcare services.

Two weeks ago, the Minister Water Resources and Sanitation, Joseph Utsev, counseled state and local governments on adequate preparation against impending flood disaster as heavy rainfalls continue and rising level of River Benue and other water bodies

Utsev along with the Minister of State for Water Resources and Sanitation, Bello Goronyo, gave the update on current water level and flooding during a media conference at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

He said: “Hydrological Observations: The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency has noted an increase in the volume of flow along the River Benue system, registering a flow level of 8.97 meters as of today.

“This is compared to a flow level of 8.80 meters on the same date in 2022.

“Meanwhile, the flow level on the River Niger system remains stable, with the level of the River Niger at Niamey, Niger Republic, standing at a normal level of 4.30 meters. Reports from inland dams including Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro also indicate a consistent flow regime.

“Situation at Lokoja: Despite the heightened flow volume along the River Benue system, the flow situation at the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers in Lokoja, Kogi State, remains within normal parameters.


“The flow level at the monitoring station downstream of the confluence records 7.80 meters today, compared to 8.24 meters on the same date in 2022.

“Preparedness Measures: Recognizing Nigeria’s downstream position in relation to the nine-member countries of the Niger River Basin, it is important to acknowledge the period of heavy rainfall, flooding, and flood-related disasters that typically occur during July, August, September, and October. Dam water releases are integral to safeguarding dam integrity and mitigating flooding in adjacent communities.”

According to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index, Nigeria is considered at ‘extremely high risk of the impacts of climate change, ranking second out of 163 countries.

Even before the floods, there has been a disparity in access to health services, food inflation, and the outbreak of diseases.

The floods have, however, added to the already precarious health woes in the country.

Also, experts say, poor mental health, chronic diseases, and disabilities are potential threats.

A senior lecturer at the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Dr. Charles Umeh said the mental health implication of the flood is trauma.

Umeh said, “People seeing their valuable goods destroyed will be traumatised. There will be physical and psychological needs. The physical needs are shelter, food, and clothing; these are what the relief team will do. Thereafter, there will be an assessment of their mental health. Some people could have lost everything they value in the floods, there’s going to be anxiety, depression, and flashbacks associated with trauma. Trauma is a situation that evokes emotions and this is one such situation. A lot of them can be suffering from acute stress disorder.

“Every emergency team must have a strong mental health team but I don’t think that is what they have presently.’’

Also, a public health physician and Senior Vice President for Africa, Human Health Education and Research Foundation, Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor said displacement and loss of homes and businesses are traumatic events and victims would find it difficult to cope with the mental trauma. They need mental health support as well as other kinds of support.”

Already, the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria says 60 million Nigerians are suffering from mental illnesses.

The President of the association, Prof. Taiwo Obindo said, “For an estimated population of 220 million, according to the latest data by the National Bureau of Statistics, WHO says one in four Nigerians, an average of 50-60 million people, is suffering from mental illnesses.”

Adding, Nsofor said, “It’s likely there are victims who are known to have chronic diseases such as hypertension and their medications could be lost.

“They may not have access to health facilities to replenish their drugs. This could lead to development of complications. For instance, hypertensive patients may have a stroke when they do not take their drugs regularly,” he noted.

The physician said local, state, and Federal Governments must be proactive in flood mitigation as well as providing support when flooding happens.

It has been documented that extreme rain and flooding bring cholera and other deadly waterborne diseases. Other common waterborne diseases are typhoid, diarrhoea, and typhoid.

The risk of transmission of cholera is higher in areas that lack adequate sanitation facilities and a regular supply of clean water.

People who contracted cholera can shed the bacteria in their stools for up to 10 days, adding to the risk of it spreading.

If the disease is not well managed, it can lead to kidney failure and death.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said, “Unsafe practices such as improper disposal of refuse and open defecation endanger the safety of water used for drinking and personal use. These practices lead to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera. Without proper WaSH, Nigeria will continue to be at risk of cholera outbreaks along with the associated suffering and deaths.”

Another concern is the likely rise in vector-borne diseases.

Stagnant water caused by heavy rainfall is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and therefore promotes the potential for exposure of the disaster-affected population to infections such as malaria and dengue fever.

There is also a concern that the floods will disrupt much-needed immunisation programmes.

Before the floods, Nigeria had reported 36 cases of vaccine-derived polio according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

With the floods, children are at an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases as some facilities providing life-saving vaccines were washed away.

The Director of Programmes, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, Philip Jakpor said the avoidable floods that have engulfed states across the federation will leave behind a crisis of unimaginable proportions except if governments at all levels show seriousness in addressing the immediate and long-term fallouts.

He said, “Aside from affecting the integrity of the buildings and other structures currently underwater, it is likely that there’s going to be a high incidence of cholera across the federation when the waters recede. Boreholes and open wells are already contaminated by the flood waters and sewage which have been flowing freely without borders in communities that are flooded.”