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Nigeria: Tens of thousands of people stranded by floods in north-east

15 Nov 2019


Flooding in Rann, Borno State, Nigeria. Credit: GISCOR

More than 40,000 men, women and children – mostly internally displaced people – have little or no access to food or services in the town of Rann, Borno State, due to heavy flooding of the River Kaalia in neighbouring Cameroon since 7 November.

The flooding damaged an estimated 4,000 hectares of farmland, destroying crops that are the main source of food for internally displaced persons (IDPs) staying in Rann, a remote town in an area where violent attacks from non-State armed groups are frequent and access is difficult for humanitarian assistance due to the high insecurity and poor road conditions.

Stranded populations are running short of food and those who can afford it are paying high sums to be transported to the other areas, also putting their life at risk while crossing the river or travelling to safety. More than 300 people from Rann have managed to reach Ngala, a town some 40 km away, according to the International Organization for Migration. They had managed to leave Rann before the road became impassable. 

Humanitarian partners are mobilizing resources to reach the stranded population via the UN Humanitarian Air Services until access is secured for small boats. Providing food is the main priority, along with water, shelters and emergency health services.

In neighbouring Adamawa State, more than 100,000 people are also affected by severe flooding across seven Local Government Areas since 27 October, following torrential rainfall and overflow of water from the Niger and Benue rivers.

Flooding in Adamawa State, Nigeria. Credit: Education Sector Working Group/Godwin Cure

The floods caused the displacement of about 19,000 people and the Government, leading on the response, has opened nine camps for IDPs.

The UN and humanitarian partners are scaling up assistance in Adamawa State as well and have already provided reproductive health kits to more than 56,000 people; non-food items to 400 families; and farming items to 4,000 families in areas that were not reached by Government assistance.

Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno and Adamawa states are currently facing the worst floods in seven years, which have destroyed homes and livelihoods across entire communities in the region. About 300,000 people have been affected by floods so far this year, which is at least five times more than expected in the humanitarian contingency plan based on an average from previous years.

The latest flooding, coming at a time when the rain season would usually be over, compounds an already dire humanitarian situation in two of the three states most affected by the 10-year conflict, with 7.1 million people in need of urgent assistance this year.

The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria is seeking US$848 million to assist 6.2 million people and is 60 per cent funded so far.