Even though Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) was right in its prediction of flooding in some states of the country including Jigawa State this year, no one in the state thought the disaster could be worst beyond expectation as it eventually happened.
As the water level around the flooded areas in Jigawa State start subsiding in recent days, the extent of the damage caused by this year's flood is now being examined by the authorities concerned at local, state and national levels. In Jigawa State, the damage caused by the flooding will last longer in the memory of those who lost their loves ones, and those who partially or completely lost their farm produces or houses. The threat for possible cholera out break is escalating as many already died from the suspected cases in the area where their sources of drinking water have been submerged with their toilets by the floods. Forty persons were confirmed dead as a result of the flooding and other related problems such as suspected cholera cases around 14 local government areas affected by the disaster in the state. In the midst of the flooding, six people of same family where reported dead after their canoe capsised when they were scampering for safety after their village, Dabi of Ringim local government area, was submerged by the flooding overnight. Many people were reported to have died as a result of building collapse caused by the flooding at different locations in the state. The flood had also rendered hundreds of families homeless and now taken refuge at different camps established by the state government for victims, while some resolved to squatting within the houses of their friends and relations who are not affected by the flood.
Hundreds of pregnant women and other patients with different ailments were hindered from accessing medical services as the flood prevented several communities from accessing roads across the affected areas.
Thousands of houses and over 100,000 hectares of farmlands were submerged and destroyed by the floods worth millions of naira. Going round the affected areas, LEADERSHIP Friday observed youths and other members of different communities working day and night constructing embankments around their communities to minimise the flood damages. Speaking to our correspondent, Malam Adamu Mai'unguwa of Budamai village, who arrived Harbo Sabuwa village from Budamai village on a canoe carrying pregnant women and patients for transportation to Jahun Hospital, said they spent three hours on water before reaching the road. Malam Adamu noted that, they only managed to convey patients with complicated sicknesses, as the journey from their village was not easy and very risky. "Our village with population of over 1,500 people is completely surrounded by water and all roads are submerged by the flood, we can only reach the road after spending three to four hours on canoe, which we were not use to doing before." In Miga local government area, the chairman of the council, told the deputy governor of the state while inspecting the affected area that, they have never experienced such flood disaster in the last 20 years, and people of the area have been sleepless for over two weeks to control the damages. He said the local government has purchased thousands of Bagco sacks and distributed them to different communities who are using it to construct embankments to protect their communities from total submergence by flooding. "Thousands of famers lost their farm produce completely including those who took loan from government and banks to expand their production according to federal and state government agricultural policies," the chairman said. In his speech while inspecting the affected area, the state deputy governor, Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia said, the state government is currently assessing the situation to come up with strategies to be adopted for immediate intervention and lasting solution.
He noted that, as a matter of emergency, government is now providing community with food that can be easily preferred such as Gari, and more relief materials will follow in the next few days.
"The state government has sent a mobile team of medical personnel to reach out to the affected communities in order to treat the sick ones, we also bought over 200 canoes for those communities that are cut off from any access roads." "About 540 communities from across the 14 local governments of the state are affected by the disaster. "When the flood subsides, we will provide farmers with improved seeds that can be planted and harvested within two to three months for them to grow it in order to reduce their sufferings and avert any possible hunger crisis." During his tour to affected areas, the state governor, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, called on federal government, international organisations, private companies and all other individuals to come to the aid of the flood victims. The flood had also damaged many roads and caused bridges to collapse around the affected areas, which consequently made movement of people, goods and services including relief materials very difficult.
Jigawa State has been battling with high rate of child malnutrition cases, high rate of maternal and infant mortality. And there is palpable fear for flood disaster to aggravate the situation.
The destruction of over 100,000 hectares of farmlands by the flood in the state has created likelihood for the affected communities to face food shortage, which the negative impacts will be wors and damaging to children and pregnant women. Most of Jigawa rural dwellers are peasant farmers who mainly depend on farming as means of their livelihoods. The communities whose farm produce were washed away by the flood may face very difficult times with no income to live on for the rest of the year unless if proper intervention is provided.
Most of the infant and maternal deaths recorded in Jigawa State are from rural and hard to reach areas; non-facilities delivery is also common. The damaged cause to rural roads and bridges will also make it more difficult for pregnant women, children and other sick people around the affected area to access basic health care service.
Many pupils, who are ordinarily supposed to be in the classrooms are now living in various Internally Displaced Camps together with their parents, this has negative impact on their studies and their future life in the long range. The flood disaster that wreaked havoc to over 500 Jigawa State communities has virtually affected all aspects of life of its direct and indirect victims. Many well to do families have been rendered homeless, relegated to begging, subjected to misery and other difficulties of life.
As a matter of urgent and statutory responsibility, the federal, state and local governments must redouble their intervention to go beyond relief materials in order to rescue the flood victims from economic and social difficulties. Even though Jigawa State, like many other states of the federation, has been experiencing flood disaster from time to time, this year's flood disaster appears to be more devastating in over 30 years. The reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads, bridges and other infrastructure damaged by the flood is said to be one of the state government's priority with no further delay. Not only government, other wealthy people, individuals and private organisations have been urged to come in and assist the victims with whatever is available to avert major human crisis in the state.
Thousands of famers lost their farm produce completely including those who took loan from government and banks to expand their production according to federal and state government agricultural policies