States Visited: Kogi, Edo, Cross River,Benue and Delta communities
Date of visit: 26,27, 29 September and 4 October, 2012

INTRODUCTION
ERA/FoEN visited several communities in Kogi, Edo, Cross River, Benue and Delta States inundated by waters. Excessive rains is believed to have caused the overflow of dams and the flooding thereof of communities along the banks of River Niger and Benue in Nigeria.

The floods  has led to destruction of farmlands across the affected states, complete inundation of hundreds of communities, loss of property in unquantifiable sums and about 104 deaths going by official statistics from the Nigerian government.

Floods sack communities in Agenebode, Etsako East LGA of Edo State
Highlights:

-Two committed suicide
-Community houses submerged and destroyed
-Farmlands and ponds ruined.

ERA/FoEN team visited Agenebode, a community along the banks of the River Nigerin Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State to document impacts of the menacing floods which continues to ravage communities across states in Nigeria.  
Fishing and farming are the major occupation of Agenebode people. The farmers grow cassava, rice, potato and pepper while the fishermen and fisherwomenmake their catch from the river, in addition to having fish ponds along the river banks. However, all these activities which used to make life pleasant in the community have suddenly come to an abrupt end due to the inundation of the community.
ERA/FoEN learnt that the community folks woke to see their houses overrun by the floods which have taken over every available landwithin and outside their houses. Those that spoke with the fact-finding team narrated that they had no choice than run for their lives as the level of water kept rising by the minute. This was the case when the team visited themwhere they were accommodated at the Skills Acquisition Centre along Mission Road, Agenebode. The compound shares the same boundary with the Community Health Centre.


TESTIMONIES
Bajah Helen
I am a teacher at Osime Primary, Agenebode. When the rain started to fall, the river started getting filled up overnight. I have been married to my husband for about twenty years now but I have never experienced this kind of thing. My personal room was filled with water up to my waist. We lost farms; houses especially mud houses which collapsed. Those who had crops have lost everything. We lost two buildings. We want the government to help us rebuild our houses. The church people, New Covenant Gospel Church have helped us but the government must help us because if they want us to move, we have nowhere to go. We are about thirty persons in a room, so we are seriously inconvenienced. The government is making a good effort because they feed us thrice a day. But some people have committed suicide. May God bless the New Covenant Gospel Church that has helped us.

Pastor Success Yemeake
I am the pastor of Victory Life Christian Assembly, Agenebode. It is just by the river bank. The flood carried the church and the house. The place was totally flooded and we need assistance for us to relocate. WE lost forty-five plastic chairs, in fact the church building collapsed totally. The flood got up to my chest. The government is feeding us and some other people are helping. WE have not fellowshipped for over two weeks now and we need assistance to get another location that is far from River Niger.

Ekata Andrew,farmer, 48 years
The flood destroyed all my property. My house has collapsed and everything inside is lost. I have three wives and nineteen children. They are all in the camp with me. I want help to rebuild my house. My cassava, yams and rice in my farm have all been destroyed. Even my pond where I rear fish is also gone. I need help from government to go back home or any place to call my home.

Oshogwe Ozenua
The flood destroyed everything, even my building. I am a farmer but I have no farm now. The yam, rice and cassava in my farm have all been destroyed. I have 21 children and three wives but the flood drove us out and they are all in this camp. I will like the government to help me build my house so that we can go back home. I have no money and cloth to wear is a problem.

Gismos Ikanoba,60 year old farmer/fisherman
I noticed the flood in the night. I took my seven children and wife and ran out. Before we knew it, my house had collapsed. We came here being a government building. Since I have been here with my children, the State, Federal and Individuals have been helping us. They give us food, clothes and water. The flood affected my cassava, rice, yam, pepper, tomatoes and now, I cannot make any money. I will like the government to help me get another house.
Patience Benson: 25year old farmer
The flood carried my things, farm and house. Crops including cassava, plantain, yam, rice, pepper and tomatoes have been washed away. Since I came here, we have been feeding well. But I will like the government to help me get another house and to me get where to farm.

Anna Umoru, 80 years old widow
I first saw the flood inside the house.  It destroyed all the things I have. My house, fowls and everything in the compound were affected. I have six children and we are all in the camp. I want the government to build my house for me so that I can leave this camp.

Amina Malik, 70 years old widow
My husband died thirty years ago. The flood has destroyed my house and goats, even the fowls were not spared. My vegetables like pepper, tomatoes and even groundnuts have been destroyed. As the government is taking good care of us, I like it but I want the government to build my house so that I will leave this camp.

Patience Danjuma, 50
I have eight children and we are all in this camp. I am a farmer and I sell fish also. But the flood has destroyed my farm on which I had food crops like cassava, potatoes and pepper. I can no longer sell fish because nobody can fish in this condition. I want the government to help in getting another house, so that we can leave this camp.

Alice Peter, 50    
The flood was a shock. I have three children in my house but the flood drove us out. I am a farmer and it was from farming I used to get money. I woke up to see the flood inside the house. The flood destroyed my food stuff like cassava, potato and plantain. I want the government to help me to build another house so that we can leave this place.

OBSERVATIONS
1.    Those who committed suicide took their lives because they felt they had lost everything and as a result, all hope have been lost.
2.    All the houses and farms along the coast line area have been totally submerged.
3.     It is obvious that the people left their houses in a hurry and could not save any meaningful property.
4.     The hygiene situation in the various camps is poor
5.    Although the people have lost everything, they have hope that assistance will come to re-establish them.



Flood Sacks Ekregbesi Community, Isoko South LGA of Delta State.

Ekregbesi- Aviara Kingdom is in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State. Ekregbesi comprises seven villages: Enue-the, Sapele, Otoka, Iwhre-Emero, Iwhre-Iyede, Iwhre-Idheze, and Eroro. The population of the entire Ekregbesi community is estimated to be about 1,000 people and their major occupation is fishing and farming. The distance from Oleh the headquarters of Isoko South LGA to Ekregbesi is about 25 kilometers by vehicle.

THE FLOODING INCIDENT
ERA/FoEN field monitors visited the community on September 29, 2012, exactly two weeks after the community experienced the worst flooding in its history. The people lamented loss to farmlands and livelihoods from the sudden flood that inundated their villages, leading to massive displacements from homes. The people have also lost cash and food crops to the flood. At the time of the visit by ERA/FoEN field monitors, the only buildings standing were those built with blocks. The houses constructed with mud had been eroded by the strong waves flowing from the river against the buildings. A church building belonging to Prophetess (Mrs.) Rachael Sweet Omasere and her Healing Centre and some block houses belonging to others were the only houses remaining in Otoka village.

Some members of the community expressed their displeasure with the havoc the flood has wreaked. They said the flood incident was amazing because the volume of the water kept on increasing. One of them said that they feared for the community and hoped that the incident was not one of the signs of end time, quoting scriptural passages.
ERA/FoEN field monitors gathered during the flooding incident has resulted in problems of varied dimensions as the people no longer have access to potable and safe drinking water because their only source of water has been polluted and now milky in colour. Some houses were observed to have been submerged while others were destroyed. The displaced families from the community now seek refuge in neighbouring villages. The people’s sources of livelihood have been affected.  

TESTIMONIES

Prophetess (Mrs.) Rachael Sweet Omasere who has relocated to Irri Kingdom
I have been in this Otoka village since early 1960s. We never had a flood experience like this one. This flood caught us unawares because anytime the flood is set to come there are indicators so that we used to predict the size of each flood from the flow pattern of the stream. Whenever we perceived a bigger flood our people go into early harvest so that our food crops will not be lost to such flood. This one sent no such signals. Now, all our food crops are lost. Even the ones we were able to rescue were lost to the flood overnight. The only solution is to relocate. If you go to the community now the only thing you will see is a very strong wave from the river hitting against the walls of our buildings.

Mr. Phillip Omasere, Sapele village

We always pray to God for a big flood that will bring us fish and food. This is my prayer as a fisher man. This flood brought nothing good. It brought misery, misfortune, hunger and more poverty. Since this sudden rise in the stream level l have not been able to get even little catch of crayfish, not to talk of the real fish in my fish traps. The only things we see in our fish traps are things like frogs. I have to move my family from this community since the government has not come to rescue us as it happened in other places where they have government to rescue flood victims. It will be a thing of joy if the government can remember us.

Mr. Simon Oki, Otoka village, owner of a collapsed building

This flood is an evil one because other floods have been bringing blessings but this one came to destroy and displace us. I built my house in the early 1950s. Although it is a mud house it was one of the best houses around the seven villages of Ekregbesi. I gave birth to all my children and raised them in this house; they are all doing well in the city. The 29th day of September, 2012 will remain indelible in my life because this was the day my building collapsed. In 1994 we experienced a similar flood but not as disastrous and big as this one. I remember vividly that the 1994 flood brought food and many blessings.

FLOOD SITUATION IN KOGI STATE

Communities affected are spread out in nine out of 21 Local Government Areas. The most affected are Ibaji which was completely inundated, Lokoja the state capital, Bassa, Idah, Omala, Ajaokuta, Igalamela/Odolu, Ofu and Anpka, which combined, led to the displacement of over 500,000 persons.

In Lokoja, ERA/FoEN field monitors visited Ganaja Village, Adankolo and Kabbawa.  Ibaji which has an area of 1,377 km² and a population of 128,129 as at the 2006 census was totally inaccessible as the entire community was inundated, while nearby Idah was on the verge of inundation as most of the farmlands and residential areas close to the River Niger had been submerged. Only communities in the upstream and hilly areas of Idah were spared. At Bassa the fact-finding team observed that the farmlands known for yam farming had been completely submerged.

The Lokoja-Abuja Highway was also observed to have been totally cut off by the floods, creating a traffic gridlock that stretched over 10 kilometers.
Community folks in virtually all the towns that have witnessed various levels of flooding also complained they were living at the mercy of reptiles like the alligator and snakes that have been reported to attack both young and old in the last two weeks. The fact-finding team documented a case in Adankolo Estate in Lokoja where a huge snake was said to have entered a residential building and killed four chickens in an attack on the first day of the flooding. One of the chickens was seen totally ravaged and left dead by the reptile.

Relief Camps
The Kogi State government working in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) set up relief camps for the displaced families in Adankolo, Gadumo and Kabawa.
When the ERA/FoEN team visited the camps it was observed that the facilities were overstretched as classrooms that were supposed to house five families had taken in as much as fifteen families in each block. At St Luke’s Primary School, Adankolo, NEMA officials who said they were not authorized to speak disclosed that the school was supposed to house 50 families but had no option but take in as much as 500 since there was no other alternative. The NEMA officials however appealed to individuals, non-governmental organisations and philanthropic groups to assist in providing relief materials to complement government effort.
In Kabawa and Gadumo relief camps the situation was more chaotic as the number of displaced persons absorbed in both camps continued to grow by the minute, overstretching the facility.


FLOOD SITUATION IN CROSS RIVER STATE

ERA/FoEN field monitors gathered that more than 2,000 houses have so far been ravaged by floods
That affected about 20 communities spread in Ikom, Odukpani, Obubra and Biase Local Government Areas.
More than 50 percent of the houses were observed to have either crumbled or washed away with property worth millions of naira lost. NEMA said about 15,000 people have so far been rendered homeless.
When ERA/FoEN visited Biase Local Government Area, the traumatized internally displaced persons were spotted in large numbers in neighbouring communities located on higher grounds.
Communities affected in Biase are Abanyon, Okurike, Ugbem, Ibini, Ikot Okpora, Itu and Abijan.

The entire Agwagune villages of Imomoro, Imomoro South, Ibanabang, Igbijim, Igbadema and Imo Iyam were also hit by the flood. In Agwagune, in Biase which is prone to perennial flooding, very few residential homes were sited unaffected while the rest had been overtaken by the flood.

It was learnt that a 55-year-old man and two girls of ages said to be 12 years were missing as they were said to have been swept away by the flood which hit the community while they were asleep at night.

The likelihood of hunger looms in the state as farmlands for cassava, yams, maize, melon, cocoa, as well as plantain and banana were submerged and destroyed.
South-South Coordinator of NEMA, Mr. Umesi Emenike who had conducted an assessment of the disaster told the fact-finding team that the destruction caused by the flood is colossal.

Benue State
Ø    Over 2000 houses inundated
Ø    1579 Families are in three Refugee Camps across the Benue State capital, Makurdi.
Ø    Other affected families are taking refuge with friends and relatives in the Makurdi Metropolis.
Ø    Distances of affected houses from the river is about 200 to 250m from the center of the river

AREAS MOST AFFECTED
1.    Wadata in Makurdi Local Government Area
2.    Gyado Village Area in Makurdi Local Government Area
3.    Mu Village Area in Makurdi Local Government Area.

GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

The government intervened by way of establishing three refugee camps situated in the following areas:
1.    N.K.S.T (UBE) Junior Secondary School premises, Wadata Makurdi Benue State (489 families registered as at the time of this visit)
2.    2.L.G.E.A Primary School premises Wurukum, Makurdi Benue State (501 Families registered)
3.    St. Catherine’s Catholic Church premises Makurdi opposite Railway Market Makurdi Benue State. As at the time of this visit, 466 families were registered  
The Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and NEMA provided relief materials, such as rice, beans, cooking ingredients, mosquito nets, toiletries, slippers, small size’s mattresses to help cater for the refugees. And also humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross and a Medical Team from the General Hospital Makurdi are on ground to offer medical assistance where necessary. See photographs of displaced persons attached.

TESTIMONIES
Mr. Ayoosu Ikyor the camp commandant of the N.K.S.T (UBE) Junior Secondary School Camp in Wadata, Makurdi, said about 489 families is registered in this camp. Relief materials such as rice, beans, toiletries, mosquito nets, mattresses, slippers etc, were provided by State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

It was also gathered that 15 bags of rice, 5 bags of beans are used to prepare a meal for the entire refugees daily.
The agency appealed for additional aid from well-meaning people and organizations.
Mr. Ochohepo Benjamin of No 11 Akure Street in Wadata is one of the affected persons.
When the flooding started we thought it was not going to be serious. Then after a few days the whole area became flooded. Though the government has tried in accommodating us and the relief materials, we appeal to well-meaning Nigerians and agencies to come to our aid.

Mrs. Veronica of Wadata Rice Meal Area is also affected and is taking refuge at Wadata Camp.
We have been here for three weeks. And the little meals provided in the camp are what have been sustaining us. We need help because we lost everything to the flood

Mr. Terumbur Alabaa is the Camp Commandant at L.G.E.A primary school camp Wurukum.
The cost of feeding the refugees is very high. For example, the 501 registered families need about 17 bags of rice and 8 bags of beans to feed them per meal. We are willing to accept assistance from donor agencies to help them


EDO STATE FLOOD SITUATION

HIGHLIGHTS:

•    Over 30,000 community people evicted by flood as hundreds of houses are submerged

•    Women and children besiege refugee camps, exiled by floods.

•    Farmlands, forest mangroves, water and aquatic lives destroyed.

•    Hunger looms as Community peoples sources of economic sustenance truncated.

•    Schools remain closed down as spiritual worship centres stay deserted.

Etsako Central Local Government Area is one of the 18 local government areas in Edo state. The administrative headquarters of Etsako Central is Fugar.

It is bounded in the West and North by Etsako East Local Government Area, in the South by Esan Central and Etsako West LGAs, and in the West by Kogi State. The Local Government is blessed with fertile land with a mixture of savannah, swamp and forest vegetation.
Etsako Central LGA is located in the lowland Savannah Zone of Edo State which occupies the upland areas and upper flood pains of Edo State. This feature makes it susceptible to erosion.

Communities affected by the flood include: Udaba, Ofukpo, Agbabu, Osomengbe, Anegbete, Udochi, Ukpeko-Olre, Ifeku Island in Etsako Central; others are communities in Etsako East and Esan East.

Cause of the Ravaging Flood

In early September 2012, this agrarian wetland in Etsako Central Local Government area of Edo State started experiencing major flooding as River Niger emptied its excesses into bordering communities for weeks unending and at an increasing rate. This ravaging flood which has lasted for close to three weeks have rendered hectares of farmlands destroyed, streams and rivers polluted and swallowed up by the flood, forest mangroves degraded, aquatic and terrestrial animals were swept away from their natural habitat causing untold biodiversity loss.

Property worth millions of naira has been submerged in the flood.

As at time of field visit, it was gathered that the cause of the flood came about as a result of the opening of Lagdan Dam in Cameroun and Kainji Dam in Nigeria which emptied itself into River Niger leading to it overflowing its bank.

According to community sources, the flood started since first week of September, 2012, and ever since, it has continued to spew unquantifiable volume of flood into the communities. This has exceeded the annual flood experienced in the area which never exceeds the river bank.
River Udaba and River Niger which men and women depended on for fishing and domestic needs have become a place of doom.

IMPACT OF THE FLOODS

It was observed that the impact of the flood is overbearing on the Social and economic lives of the people. This flood according to community sources is the first of its kind since they were born.

Community people who have lived all their lives have become exiled by the grave flood as they become refugees in other communities and refugee camps.
Houses and property worth millions of naira were swallowed up by the flood.

It was observed that the only two primary schools in the area which enrolled over 1,000 pupils have been closed down resulting in the disruption of academic activities.

Ailing goats, chicken and its newly hatched chicks and other domestic animals rescued from the deadly flood were ferried far away to dry land for safety.

When ERA/FoEN field monitors visited the area some home appliances like chest-size refrigerator, television set and some household utensils were seen floating on the 6-inch deep flood. Hectares of economically viable crops were consumed by the growing flood.
For the women and children who remained the worst hit by the impact of the grave flood, this uncommon incidence is a transition from good to doom as they can no longer get food to eat or cook on the entirely wet land.
Osagbe College, the only community secondary school in the area was submerged in the floods to a depth of about 3feet deep.

Tidal flux had spread the fishes, snakes and aquatic biodiversity to every nook and cranny of the affected communities. The fear of snakes, scorpion, and crocodiles from the wild flood now looms as community no longer sleep with their two eyes closed.
Stranded rodents were seen at tree branches possibly making their last wish. Restless monkeys rescued from the forest were seen cheering up children of the displaced at the refugee camp at Alaoye Primary School.

Goats were seen scrambling for space at the few remaining elevations yet to be swallowed by the fast moving flood (at camp 2 also called Alaoye camp)
All the communities are cuurently without electric power supply. The three transformers that connects them to the national grid are submerged in the flood. Residents had earlier been advised to disconnect their fuse to avoid electrocution.

Meanwhile, the stench of excreta from exhumed pit toilets and latrines pervades the Udaba airspace and toxic waters.

Also not spared by the flood are the two mosques in the area, the Chief Imam of the area Mallam Zakari Kadiri spoke to ERA/FoEN monitors that this has greatly affected their spirituality, but ascribe the disaster as the will of Allah. Other structures include those of the State’s Commissioner for Commerce and Industry Hon. Donald Boih; the National President of Udaba Improvement Union Rtd. DSP Abubakar.


ERA/FoEN DEMANDS
1.    Declaration of a state of disaster in Kogi, Edo, Benue, Cross Rivers and other states affected by the floods       
2.    The Federal Government of Nigeria should take this as a hard warning to take concrete steps to stop Gas flaring in Nigeria and  stop the allotment of  our     forests to multinational companies whose activities further  encourages deforestation  as these and other unfriendly environmental practices contributes to climate     change crisis that we are experiencing world over.
3.    Immediate provision and release of relief materials to displaced persons in the relief camps
4.    Opening up of more relief centers to cater for/assimilate displaced communities
5.    Immediate commencement of a public health campaign by the Federal and State governments
6.    Halt in the construction of new big dams

7.    Release of the Ecological Funds to address the environmental issues in the affected states

8.    Proper mechanism should be put in place to warn the people early enough in future so as to forestall the re-occurrence of such incident.
9.    The government should also embark on a public health campaign to forestall use of the contaminated waters by the community folks

10.    The Money promised by the government must be properly monitored to ensure that it gets to the victims and not to businessmen or contractors.



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ERA has recently received information that a group calling itself the "Niger Delta Coalition in the Diaspora" is still engaging itself in activities and communications giving the impression that it is linked with Environmental Rights Action (ERA).

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