Ownership and resilience in the midst of floods
NIGERIA, 28 November 2012 - Baby Jummai Sumaila is 49 days old. He and his mother Khadijat, live in Camp Lokoja in the outskirts of Lokoja the Kogi state capital in north central Nigeria. He is one of the twenty four children born in one of the seven camps Unicef has been supporting since August.
Khadijat and her community lived in the low lying plains of the River Niger. A ferocious flood hit that devastated everything along its path; homes, farmlands and livestock. Heavily pregnant and scared for her life, Khadijat fled along with everyone else.
Over 2 million Nigerians are internally displaced as a result of the floods which destroyed more than half a million houses, laid waste crops, farmlands, livestock and livelihoods. Most of the 365 people who died were poor farmers fisherman and traders.
Like most of the people in the camps, Khadijat is keen to go home with her new son. Though they have lost all, she knows that the the earlier they can start again, the faster they can recover. To support this UNICEF is providing oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhea caused by contaminated bad water, emergency health kits, water purification tablets, and other health interventions.
Representative ai, Ibrahima Fall wanted to know how Jummai was faring. “He has been immunized, sleeps under insecticide treated nets and is doing good but his older siblings are not going to school” he was told. Education is not always available in the IDP camps and water is from a borehole UNICEF had drilled in the camp.
The risk of flooding may be a fact of life during the rainy season for people living by the Niger river but efforts have been made to reduce the risks and ensure that a ‘safety net’ can be quickly provided. As a result of UNICEF’s work with government on the new concepts of disaster risk reduction and effective contingency planning, the states pre-positioned essential life-saving supplies ready to help at risk communities. That kind of planning has paid dividends but now the families want to go home and get their children into school.