Recently, flood ravaged parts of the North, leading to huge losses of lives, farmlands and displacement of residents. AHMED TAHIR and ATTAHIRU AHMED write that apart from being displaced, many farmers may have lost their basic means of livelihood, just as several IDP camps lacking basic amenities have sprung up.
At the onset of the rainy season this year, many farmers in the Northern part of the country must have started planting with the hope of reaping bountiful harvest by the end of the year. The hope must have been sustained till the middle of the season despite the forecast by Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) of flooding in some parts of the country. However, whatever hope they had at the beginning of the year has painfully been shattered before the end of the farming season, no thanks to flood.
From Sokoto, Niger, Kwara, Kogi to Jigawa and Nasarawa states, the heavy rains and their resultant flooding have caused severe damage to the livelihood of many Nigerians as well as grave infrastructural destruction to these states. Tragically, also, hundreds of compatriots have lost their lives to the flood
In Zamfara, for instance, the heavy flooding resulted in the loss of millions naira worth of farm produce across towns and villages across the state.
In an interview, a full-time farmer and member of the All farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Zamfara State, Mallam Iliyasu Idris, told Sunday Tribune that many of his colleague-farmers suffered huge losses as a result of flood. Those affected most, he disclosed, were rice farmers. According to Mallam Idris, one of the farms that used to harvest between 70 and 80 bags of rice, did not record up to 18 bags this year.
“It was a terrible experience we have witnessed during this year’s farming season, particularly those who planted rice. Heavy rain at GidanKaura village has caused many of our farmers to lose farm produce like millet, soya, beans and rice as a result of flood,” he said.
A community leader, Mallam Umar, who also narrated the ordeal he and other residents underwent, said their farms had been destroyed by flood, adding that many people from his communities are now taking shelter at neighbouring villages for fear of more flood in their village.
“If I were to evaluate our losses due to flood, it is going to be hundreds of millions naira. We only prayed that God should provide us with other alternatives in kind from the relevant authorities.”
In Sokoto State, farmers are also in tears in no fewer than seven out of 23 local government areas of the state. A source who spoke with Sunday Tribune at the State Emergency Management Authority (SEMA), confirmed that farm produce worth millions of naira were destroyed by the flood.
The affected local government areas, according to the source, include Wamakko, Tangaza, Goronyo, Rabbah, Gada and Tambuwal and Kebbe. Sunday Tribune investigation, however, revealed that farmers in Gada, Goronyo and Tangaza were the most affected.
Mallam Muhammad Goronyo, a rice farmer from Goronyo Local Government Area, who narrated his experience, confirmed that the flood washed away his entire farm. He described the loss as unprecedented, while calling on governments at all levels to come to the aid of the helpless farmers.
Alhaji Nasiru Bello, also a farmer from Gada Local Government, expressed his agony at the huge losses he and other farmers had recorded. He equally appealed for help to assist farmers not only in the state but across the country to minimize the effects of the losses on farmers and food security.
The story is not different in Nasarawa State where 11 local government areas of the state were affected by flood. The executive secretary of the state emergency management agency, Mr. Zachary Allumaga, said the devastation was not limited to farmers, He said the flood displaced an estimated 400,000 persons across 92 communities in the affected councils.
The state chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr Samuel Meshi, said his members were at the receiving end of the disaster, adding that the figure being bandied by the state top emergency official was not the true representation of the situation on ground. According to him, the quantum of losses AFAN members suffered as a result of flooding this season was monumental, adding that the association is working round-the-clock to come up with accurate statistics on the development.
He said with the level of devastation caused to farmers, Nigerians should brace up for food scarcity and consequent high prices soon.
Also, women farmers belonging to different associations reechoed AFAN’s position of the possibility of food scarcity next year due to the losses suffered by their members. The women farmers through the chairperson of Association of Small Scale Agro Producers In Nigeria (ASSAPIN), Mrs. Justina Anjugu, said agricultural produce estimated at about N500 million were lost to flood by some of their members this season.
She noted that besides the damage to the crops, the flood also displaced over 15,000 women farmers from their homes across the state. According to her, the development is already affecting their socio-economic lives, while expressing fear that the situation could lead to food shortage across the state.
She urged appropriate authorities for special intervention funds to boost food production ahead of the dry season farming and next year. She called on governments to make fertilisers, improved seedlings and agrochemicals to aid all-round activities, while also soliciting for the provision of gender-friendly equipment to enable them carryout their vocation without much stress among other interventions.
IDPs’ tales of woes
Not only do families face hunger going forward, many of them, millions across the country have been displaced. In Zamfara State, houses and roads had been submerged in communities of Gusau, the state capital, such as Bulka, GadaBiyu, Hayin Dan-hausa, behind Government House and behind Science Secondary School, among others, where the flooding had forced many residents to vacate their homes.
Many of the affected areas visited by Sunday Tribune revealed that businessmen and traders had been sacked from their premises. Residents also called for urgent intervention in the provision of waterways and drainages for free flow of the water, while calling for assistance from both state and federal governments.
Farmers and residents of some communities in Niger and Jigawa states were also not spared. According to the Director General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Malam Ahmed Ibrahim Inga, no fewer than 86 persons were killed by flood disaster across the state since the 2022 rainy season began.
Giving the summary of the 2022 flood update in parts of the state, he disclosed that 21 local government areas including Rafi, Mokwa, Lapai, Lavun, Shiroro, Borgu, Kontagora, Katcha, Munya, Bosso, Paikoro, Agwara, Mashegu, Wushishi, Gurara, Mariga Gbako, Magama, Edati and Suleja have recorded flooding.
The NSEMA boss added that about 382 communities were also affected, while no fewer than 49,5952 persons/ households were displaced across the state, stressing that a yet-to-be ascertained number of farmlands were lost, including between 37 and 47 domestic animals.
In Jigawa State, the high death toll gave a strong indication how devastating the flood had been as no fewer than 134 people across 17 local governments of the state were said to have died. Farm produce worth over N1.5 trillion was also lost with more than 76, 887 families and over 272,189 people across the state either displaced or suffered huge losses in the flood. Twenty-two roads and 11 major bridges were also washed away by flood causing many communities to be cut away from the rest of the state.
In the aftermath of the displacement by flood, IDP camps have sprung up in parts of the affected states. The executive secretary, Jigawa State Emergency Relief Management Agency, Alhaji Yusif Sani Babura said the state government has opened over 20 IDP camps across the state with thousands of residents.
I cannot give the specific number of the displaced persons in the camps, as every day, they are increasing. As you can see, very heavy rain is falling and the disaster is increasing,” he said explaining that there are 11 IDP camps in Jigawa North East (Hadejia), two in Miga, one in Kiyawa, two in Dutse and one in Birnin-Kudu local government areas.
Meanwhile, some of those in Jigawa IDP camps who spoke with Sunday Tribune expressed disappointment with their elected officials for not showing concern for their plight. At Karnaya IDP camp in Dutse local government, one of the victims who gave his name as Ubalele Maigida, said he has three wives and 16 children, but has lost his seven-room house to the flood. He lamented the failure of the state governor and other elected public officials to visit them.
At the various IDP camps in the state, male and female residents are lumped together with no essential convenience like toilets or bath rooms, thus unwittingly encouraging open defecation. Clean drinking water and medical facilities were also not available.
Kwara State has also not been spared by flooding which sacked thousands of residents from their homes. More than 2,800 people from about 1,200 households have been reportedly affected by flood in Patigi Local Government Area of the state so far this year.
Sunday Tribune gathered that most of the affected people were farmers residing along river banks in the local government area.It was also gathered that the affected flood victims in such communities as Edochigi, Gudugi, Mawogi, Pkata Gbaradogi, Sunkuso, Sanchia, Ndachekuta among others, lost millions of naira as their houses, rice farms, farm produce and livestock, among others, were affected by the flood.
The same situation is happening in some other local government areas of the state. Thus, in order to ameliorate sufferings of the flood victims, the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) has commenced distribution of relief materials worth about N50 million to 1,200 households.
However, as victims of flooding continue to come to terms with their situation, the major challenge now is how to tackle the gap in food production caused by the flooding just as the expected harvest is up in smoke, though the answer may be hard in coming.
Additional reports by Biola Azeez, Adamu Amadu and Olakunle Maruf
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