Flooding and food security in Nigeria

The latter may not have heard about the devastating effects of the current flood ravaging different parts of Nigeria. The United Nations (UN) said in a recent statement that the floods are expected to destroy 19.5 million people who suffer from food shortages in the country. Mathias Schmale, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, said climate change is real and affects millions of people in Nigeria.

Last week, Shmale added that during his visits to Adamawa in the North-East and Anambra in the South-East, he spoke to people who lost all their properties due to the devastating floods. He said Anambra, home to more than a quarter of all affected people, was the worst affected by Nigeria’s worst floods in more than a decade. The flood also hit many food producing states in the North Central zone and other states along the river banks. It is reported that many houses, schools and shops were flooded. Rice, cassava, plantain, yam and many others were also destroyed. Cattle are not spared. Many people are now internally displaced as they are in various forced displacement (IDP) camps.

Statistically speaking, the floods in 2022 affected about 34 states, affected more than 2.5 million people, killed more than 600 people and displaced more than 1.5 million people. More than 200,000 houses were either partially or completely damaged. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of agricultural land, including agricultural fields, were damaged. Apparently, the impact of this year’s floods is likely to be worse than the 2012 flood devastation, costing over N2 trillion in losses.

A typical example of flood-caused destruction is the destruction of the largest rice farm in Nigeria, the 45,000-hectare Olam Rice Farm in Nasarawa State. This loss is about 15 million dollars. Smallholder farmers, who make up about 88 percent of Nigerian farmers, have suffered the most. This scenario poses a serious threat to the country’s food security, as even if the floods recede, the land may not be fit for cultivation for a long time. Of course, poor-quality soil resulting from flooding produces nothing but poor-quality and low-nutrition food.

Schmale lamented that, “The staggering devastation caused by the current floods in Nigeria and the profound impact on people’s lives is a stark reminder of the humanitarian, developmental and socio-economic cost of the climate crisis to those least likely to contribute to climate change.” Before the flood, food insecurity, insecurity and a high exchange rate caused by the Russia/Ukraine war posed a serious threat to Nigerians. For example, in 2021, seven out of 10 Nigerians reportedly did not have enough food to eat because food production was below demand. Earlier this year, the United Nations A joint report by the United Nations’ (UN’s) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) said the food crisis has gripped Nigeria and 18 other countries last year, according to the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), a UK-based think tank. in the report he prepared, he showed Nigeria as the second poorest country in the world in terms of food prices. The country is only better than Syria. Our country is also among the top 10 countries suffering from hunger in the world. The most affected states are in the North. It should be noted that this flood is also a serious threat to the health of citizens Gives the necessary nutrients and without a good and balanced diet that fights disease, disease and death will run rampant. There is already an outbreak of cholera that has killed more than 400 people across the country since January.

The victims of this flood disaster need all the help they can get. For many of them, the immediate need is shelter and food. They need financial aid, drinking water and tissues to start working again when the floods recede. The State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) have a strong role to play in assisting victims to mitigate the effects of this crisis. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is commended for issuing a US$13 million flood emergency appeal to help victims in many states. Other organizations and international institutions should emulate this gesture. A permanent solution to this threat must be found. For example, the Federal Government should ensure the dredging of major rivers that cause these floods.

The government should build more dams to collect the flood water so that such water can be used for crops and fisheries. With adequate dams, farmers in Nigeria can easily farm in all seasons. In the interim, the government should help farmers to engage in dry season farming to reduce losses. It can also open grain silos to reduce the impact of food shortages.

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