Story by Salisu Lawal Halliri

Road completely submerged.

Scores of people have been killed by floods in several states of northern Nigeria where unusually heavy rains have swollen rivers and streams across the region in the last two weeks. The flood overran villages in about seven states, with increasing number of deaths and loss of cattle reported across the region, and thousands of people displaced. Although flooding has become more or less an annual environmental disaster for the region in recent years, especially during the peak of the rainy season, this year has recorded some of the worst cases.

Whole villages and farmlands in Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara and Kebbi states have been submerged. In the Goronyo local government of Sokoto State, thousands have fled their homes, while more than 2,000 houses were destroyed in the four villages of Kagara, Boye Kai, Balla and Giyawa. Property worth millions of naira was lost and farm produce and farmlands were washed away. Over thirty houses have been destroyed by flood waters and windstorm in Shanono Local Government Area of Kano State, causing hundreds of people to take refuge in a local Primary School.

Map of Nigeria showing provinces

Map of Nigeria showing provinces

In Jigawa State, about 25 villages were reportedly submerged after a river burst its banks and the Tiga Dam overflowed owing to the torrential rainfall, displacing about 7,000 people and washing away 3,000 hectares of crops. In Zamfara State over 2000 acres of farmland was washed away in the Gummi Local Government Area while 3,000 people are displaced in Kano State, with Shanono and Gabasawa local government areas being the worst affected

Jigawa flood victims sleep in trees
Victims of the recent flood in Ringim Local Government Area of Jigawa State are not having the best of time, as some of them now sleep on top of trees due to acute accommodation problem. The lucky ones among the victims now sleep in schools and other public buildings, just as the rains seem not to be subsiding. The flood in this area was as a result of the over-flowing of Challawa Dam in neighbouring Kano State and has crippled economic activities in the area.

Submerged sugarcane

Bumper harvests were expected, but now they lie rotting beneath the flood waters.

Picking up the pieces
The immediate challenge of displacement and fear is compounded by the knowledge that next year there will likely be hunger as their farmlands were also submerged rendering useless this year’s efforts: a cruel twist in a year in which they were expecting bumper harvests. As the waters subside hundreds of women, men and children can be seen picking through what remains of their belongings from under the debris of their collapsed houses.

Heavy flood cut off Kano-Maiduguri highway for 2 days
Friday & Saturday the 6th and 7th August, 2010 the heavy flood waters caused an estimated 100m by 200m crack in the embankment of the Kano-Maiduguri highway. This is the only road that links the North-western and North-eastern parts of the country and so the crack halted all commercial and social activities between the regions. Fortunately no one was injured, but this will remain in local memory for some time.