Yola — Floods caused by release of water from the Lagdo dam in neighbouring Cameroon is almost a yearly occurrence for the people of some communities in Adamawa State, but there are so many reasons why this year's experience is most devastating. Weekly Trust reports
An uneasy calm pervades the atmosphere at the camps set up for those affected by the floods in Adamawa State, which was caused by torrential rainfall and the release of water from the Lagdo dam in neighbouring Cameroon. The disaster left in its wake 15 deaths and thousands of displaced persons.
Emergency workers at the seven camps in Gwadabawa, Damare, Limawa, Bwaranji, Sanda, Pare and GSS Numan were inundated with gory tales of washed away farmlands, drowned children, missing herds of cattle, bites from emigrant snakes, lost valuables, submerged schools and houses.
There are also reports of premature deliveries, miscarriages and new born babies delivered in the Internally Displaced People Camps (IDPCs). But some of the women have been transferred to hospitals for proper medical attention as majority of the pregnant women living in the make shift camps are already facing enormous health issues due to the lack of medical facilities.
Health officials had earlier said that a considerable number of IDPs were suffering from diarrhoea and feared that water contamination could become a major health scare for the displaced people.
"We are also quite concerned about the health of returning IDPs as they would not be having enough health care facilities, 80 per cent of which are provided from private medical practitioners who are currently absent from the scene," said Dr Amos Zacharious at Pare camp.
In Demsa, like the other affected areas, schools premises which hosted majority of the IDPs were also prone to flooding and because of predictions of heavy downpour and the continued release of the water, hundred families might have to be moved to safe places and would need additional resources.
"We do have adequate supply of food and essential medicines for the next four to five weeks and after that it would not be possible to carry on with our humanitarian efforts if the state and federal government fails to come up with funds," Mr Dennis Kakaba of Bidoma Development Area has said.
The gory tales
Fifteen people were confirmed dead and many others declared missing after the disaster, which also led to the collapse of dozens of homes, leaving only the rubbles of their foundations.
Those killed in the flood were people whose ages range between 90-day to 70-year olds. An 80 year old woman Mama Na'omi and a 90-dayold baby were among the deceased in Lamurde.
In Fufore, Mallum Buba, a father, lost two of his biological children. He told Weekly Trust that "I was asleep when my wife woke me up and I saw water flowing all over our compound. We picked a Ghana-must-go bag to pack our clothes in it but had to abandon it midway. The water was just flowing into all our rooms and we wanted to go in to pick our children but we couldn't, because one of the walls had already collapsed, and when I tried to find them we discovered that the flood had washed them away," he said trying to control flowing tears.
"Alhamdullilah, I accept this as a trial from Allah, and only pray that He will have mercy on them, and also console our hearts," he added.
His wife, Jummai, who could not talk much, also confirmed the incident to our reporter.
The acting chairman of Lamurde local government that was seriously hit, Mr Samaila Murrey, said the community was in a very trying moment and that their situation was highly devastating, stressing that there was the need for urgent help.
The National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), confirmed that over 300 homes were affected by the disaster, leaving thousands of people either dwelling at the IDP camps or homes of their respective relations.
The North east zonal coordinator of NEMA, Muhammad Kanar, who was also on a visit to the sites and camps said, his men took assessment of the camps where the displaced persons were, and had delivered relief materials comprising basically of food items, clothing, blankets, mats and drugs.
The zonal coordinator urged other people living within the flood prone areas to move to designated camps for safety from the surge which might increase if more water is released from Ladgo Dam in Cameroon.
NEMA presented treated mosquito nets as well as water guard for the treatment of water for consumption.
He said "All the people on this camp are Internally Displaced Persons, having been in the camp, are prone to so many problems. They can have infection problems like cold, catarrh, malaria, diarrheal diseases and other problems, so basically this was what prompted us to mobilize personnel and other health professionals and funds to procure drugs to cater for these people.
"Actually, we are collaborating with other stakeholders such as, SEMA, Red Cross, and Medicine San Frontiers (Doctors without borders), that came and also supplied drugs and their doctors," he said.
He noted that the sanitary condition of the camp was conducive, more so that they have sensitized the people on the importance of hygienic environment, during a lecture on health education which they delivered on the camp.
On its parts, Adamawa Assembly constituted a committee to ensure adequate attention for communities displaced by the flood.
The House which deliberated on the disaster in its plenary presided over by the Speaker, Alhaji Ahmadu Fintiri, also urged members of National assembly from the state to take up the matter at the national level in view of the enormity of the disaster which claimed many lives and properties of communities in the state.
Speaking at the sitting, Alhaji Sadiq Ibrahim, representing Fufore/Gurin constituency said his constituency was worst affected being the one bordering Cameroon.
"In some villages like Wuro-Bokki, dead bodies of humans and animals were sighted floating in the river.
"Since 1982 when Cameroon constructed this dam, the destruction of lives and farm land from water being release from this dam has been a recurring phenomenon," Ibrahim said.
One of the questions being asked as observed by Habu Danladi, a Jimeta resident, is: for how long will these displaced persons continue to remain in the various camps and what measures are the concerned authorities putting in place to ensure their possible rehabilitation and resettlement?