By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
“I know that my life is at risk, but I don’t have anywhere else to go.” Abubakar Ahmed, a 21 years old person with disability.
Despite the incessant floods ravaging some communities along River Kaduna in Kaduna State, most residents in the areas appear not to be ready to leave.
Records have shown that almost every year, there have been some level of flooding in areas like, Kigo Road, Bachama Road in Tudun Wada, Narayi, Ungwan Romi, Nasarawa, Kabala West and some other communities.
Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (KADSEMA), has warned severally that residents along the river lines should relocate to a safer place to avert the impending danger of flooding as the water level of the Kaduna River increases.
Most communities along these lines have lost a lot of property, farm products, their animals and in some cases, human life, yet these people are not willing to leave despite the loss.
According to the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction released by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the Annual Flood Outlook released by Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), 233 local government areas in 32 states and FCT, including Kaduna would experience flooding in 2022. And the water level of the Kaduna river is increasing gradually which suggests that there may be yet another phase of flood in the State.
Recently, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Nigeria Red Cross, disbursed a total sum of N175m to 5000 households in six flood prone communities in three LGAs; of Chikun, Kaduna North and Kaduna South as part of measure to mitigate flooding in 2022 raining season in the State.
These 5000 households who got N35, 000 cash each under the Shock Responsive Social Protection (SRSP) project in Kaduna State, to help them prepare for an anticipated floods as the water level of River Kaduna increases, were at some point affected by floods in the last 10 years.
The SRSP is a pilot programme of UNICEF country office in Nigeria, International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), and the Nigerian Red Cross with European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) funding, in cooperation with the Red Cross affiliated Climate Center based in the Hague.
Speaking with some residents who have many times be affected by floods in Kaduna, it was clear that most of them are not interested in moving away from the flood prone areas despite the warnings and impending disaster.
Abubakar Ahmed, is a 23 years old man, living with disability, who lives in Kabala Doki near Kigo road area. He said he has been a victim of flooding since 2015.
Abubakar, who works as a cobbler (shoe maker), understands the danger of living close to the River and the effects of floods based on his past experiences, yet he said he has remained in the same place because he has nowhere to go.
“I know that my life is at risk, but I don’t have anywhere else to go, because that is where I have lived all my life.
“I can not afford accomodation elsewhere, so that’s the major reason I have remained in this same place despite what I have been through.”
“I have lost my television, mattress, clothes, carpet and so many other valuables to floods at different occasions. During one of the flood, it took the Grace of God for me to survive, my brother came from the other area to rescue me when he heard our house have been submerged by water.” He narrated.
Abubakar, however said he would gladly leave if an alternative place is provided to him by the government or any well meaning individual.
The story is the same with most of them, and for Safiya Inuwa, 38 years old, a widow and mother of four, life has never been the same ever since she lost all her belongs to flood in 2015.
“I don’t have any hope of leaving this place because my major problem now is how to feed my four children, I have no help or support from anywhere, renting a house outside here is not in my plan.
“My landlord don’t disturb me here, the rent is cheap and anytime I don’t have I explain to him and he will wait until am able to pay that’s even the reason am still coping here.
“Since 2015 till now, no year that we don’t experience flood in my area, whether heavy rains or not water always entered our house. The first time it happened, the water destroyed everything in my house, including refrigerator, gas cooker, food stuffs, carried my clothes, mattress, nothing was left I couldn’t rescue a single thing that my husband left with us, I almost lost my little daughter, if not for people that rescued her.
“People had to donate food stuffs, rappers to me and my children’s clothes, everything were gone, we have to look for a way to survive the flood.” She explained.
Safiya, hope to invest the cash gotten from the SRSP into a business to support her family.
The Nigerian Red Cross, between May and June 2022, pre-identified the 5000 households, meeting the climate vulnerability criteria according to a community targeting approach based on five (5) selection criteria, that is; pregnant and breastfeeding women; (women-headed households), children aged 0-5, (child-headed households), people with disabilities (sight, hearing, walking, intellectual impediment, e.g. amnesia, etc.) and the elderly (from 60 years of age) multidimensional poverty (based on income and assets).
The purpose of the cash is to enable vulnerable communities to have adequate financial resources to mitigate and respond to the effects of floods, thereby minimizing losses and reducing protection risks. Studies have found that assistance provided prior to the climate related shock event lasts longer.
The objective is to avoid negative coping mechanisms, such as borrowing, exchanging sex for food or/and other necessities.