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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale

Nigeria floods death toll tops 600, as governors plead for more aid for displaced

File photo of a house partially submerged in flood waters is pictured in Lokoja city, Kogi State, Nigeria, September 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reports that more than 600 people have died in flooding that has hit 33 out of 36 states throughout the country. Governors of Delta, Bayelsa, Kogi, Benue and Anambra states separately urgently requested the federal government for more help in aiding those who have lost their homes.

While 1.3 million people are displaced across the country, southeastern Anambra state is reportedly one of the hardest hit, with 651,000 displaced. Officials are trying to get relief to hundreds of thousands who have been evacuated.

Many in the area have been moved to internally displaced camps, but their care has been left in the hands of local officials, who are overwhelmed.

Anambra State Governor Chukwuma Soludo spoke on local TV on Tuesday, saying that eight local governments are completely submerged.

“Beyond the immediate coping strategy and our own long-term agenda as a government in dealing with the environment, there is a national conversation that needs to happen,” he said.

“We can no longer deal with perennial flooding as an emergency,” he added, calling on the national government to be better prepared for the next flood.

Floods affect food security

Nigeria usually experiences annual flooding, but these floods are the worst in a decade. Authorities say that this stems from the release of excess water from Lagdo dam in neighboring Cameroon, as well as heightened rainfall.

Food security is at risk as at least 340,000 hectares of land have been affected, adding to losses sustained in northwest and central Nigeria, where conflict has disrupted the planting season.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari directed “all concerned to work for the restoration of normalcy,” according to a statement issued by the presidency.

Sadiya Umar Farouq, Nigeria’s minister of humanitarian affairs, said Buhari had approved last week the distribution of 12,000 metric tons of grains for floor victims.

She warned that five states could be hit by additional flooding in November.

“We are calling on the respective state governments, local government councils and communities to prepare for more flooding by evacuating people living on flood plains to high grounds,” said Farouq.

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