Description of the disaster
In September 2018, heavy rains were experienced in Nigeria which caused severe flooding in 129 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of 12 States which affected 2,321,592 people, based on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) situation report. An estimated 722,741 people were internally displaced, and 351,236 people had immediate humanitarian needs in food; shelter; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); and health.
On 17 September, the NEMA declared a state of emergency in four of the worst-affected states (Niger, Kogi, Anambra and Delta), where thousands of communities had been forced to evacuate from submerged settlements and seek refuge in temporary Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps. As the Niger River continued to flow above danger level, and additional dams were released, a state of emergency also was declared in five more states (Rivers, Bayelsa, Taraba, Kebbi and Adamawa) on 11 October 2018. The flooding situation exceeded thresholds of local capacity to respond to the people in need.
The floods resulted in rapid population displacement, destruction of shelters, extensive losses to livelihoods and the local economy, in addition to high rates of water-borne diseases among the affected population and their host communities. Internally Displaced Persons staying with host communities were particularly susceptible to cholera and other water-borne diseases due to the poor access to potable water, hygiene infrastructure and medical care in those locations. These challenges also impacted displaced people in IDP camps, who similarly lacked access to basic water and sanitation services.
Upon the request of Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS), IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal in October 2018 for 5.4 million Swiss francs to support 300,000 flood-affected people in the areas of focus of shelter and non-food items, livelihoods and basic needs; health; WASH; and protection, gender and inclusion (PGI) for 9 months. The objective was to provide lifesaving and recovery interventions in 6 out of the over 18 states in Nigeria affected by flooding. The intervention focused on 6 states identified during the multi-sector needs assessment as those in most need of assistance, namely Kogi, Anambra, Delta, Niger, Rivers and Bayelsa.
The initial plan was to have the affected population supported in an IDP camp setup (schools and health facilities).
However, the flood-affected population moved out of the camps earlier than expected. The government also aimed to vacate the schools that were used to host the IDPs to be vacated to avoid the disruption of the resuming of classes in January 2019. As a result, these changes affected the geographical context of the operation as the flood-affected population dispersed to different Local Government Areas (LGAs) and villages.
The operation had to strategize to ensure planned activities were to be held in their current location. Even though all affected families returned to their communities after the acute phase, the flooding resulted in long-term impacts, including a cholera outbreak in December when IDPs returned to their communities. The devastating loss to livelihoods and trauma of displacement also created psychosocial needs within the affected population.