The death toll from heavy flooding in Nigeria has now surpassed 600, with more than 1 million people displaced from their homes. The flooding has covered farms and roads and slowed shipments of food and fuel. Authorities are struggling to free up the gridlock, as a jump in prices is already making life more expensive for Nigerians.
At Dantata Bridge in coastal Kogi State, tons of food and fuel stretch for many kilometers, far from their destinations, as the impact of Nigeria’s worst flooding in 10 years unfolds.
The bridge is a link line that allows the crisscross of essentials between northern and southern Nigeria, including Abuja, the capital.
But weeks of severe flooding in Kogi State have washed away farmland and affected access roads, including Dantata Bridge.
Abuja resident Bashiru Usman says the effect is seriously being felt in Abuja.
“We are struggling to get the fuel,” said Usman, who works as a petrol dealer. “As you can see from the queue, there’s no fuel. It’s only one filling station in the whole area that sells fuel.”
Authorities say more than 2 million people in 33 of Nigeria’s 36 states have been affected.
They blame the flooding on torrential rainfalls that started in July and the release of water from Cameroon’s Lagdo Dam.
But experts say Nigeria’s poor urban planning scheme made matters worse.
In some instances, floodwaters covered rooftops, leaving communities completely submerged.
Halima Sani arrived at this makeshift camp in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, about one month ago with her eight children. She says food is a major problem.
“Before the flood came, my husband and I were farmers. We used to feed on our farm produce,” she said. “We were about to harvest when the flood came and destroyed everything. We were not able to harvest a single crop, and our house is underwater. That’s why we came here for shelter. I struggle to find something to eat with my children.”
This week, President Muhammadu Buhari directed emergency responders to scale up their interventions and said up to 12 metric tons of grain are being shipped to the most affected areas to help curb the impact of the floods.
But camp officials are not certain when the aid will arrive and say they’re running out of places to put new arrivals.
“We are still calling on the federal government to come in where these people live.” said camp coordinator Aliyu Adoga. “If they can relocate them to somewhere else where they can get new accommodation, it will be easy for them, because this is a yearly occurrence.”
Economic experts predict food prices will jump up to 25 percent by the end of the year as result of the flooding. They also say the trend could continue next year.
Nigerian authorities are planning to hold talks with Cameroon in November about the periodic opening of the Lagdo Dam.
Authorities also say they will be focusing on climate change mitigation during the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or the COP27, slated for November in Egypt.
Until then, hundreds of thousands displaced here will look for life’s basic needs — food, shelter and clean water.