The Nigeria Meteorological Centre (Nimet) has warned that widespread flooding is likely to occur due to the intensifying rainfall in several parts of the country. This is a sign that a disaster is imminent.
It is worrisome since the vast majority of displaced people live in makeshift or unfinished buildings in places that lack any infrastructure that is able to endure severe weather, though the severity of these effects varies depending on the area and the degree of exposure to the environment.
IDPs are not only at risk of losing their houses and means of subsistence, but they are also preparing for the possibility of flooding, which they will be unable to avert without the assistance of the government.
As a result of insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, and flooding in certain parts of the country, a significant number of people have been forced to seek refuge in camps or makeshift shelters, which are typically constructed out of used sacks, zinc, polythene sheets, and even sticks; they are forced to live in poor conditions while being exposed to the prevailing weather conditions.
In many of the shelters, in addition to having structures that are not sustainable, there are no drainage systems for the discharge of stormwater.
In the Durumi Internally Displaced Persons Camp in the Federal Capital Territory, home to mainly people who escaped the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno and Adamawa, two residents, Jumai Aliyu and Aisha Lawal, stated that they feel more anxious when it is dark since the devastation is more severe during the night when there is no possibility of assistance coming to them should they require it.
Jumai Aliyu said, “As you can see, the material that the makeshift is made of is not reliable. I am crowded here with my husband, four children, and the children of my late sisters; we sleep on the floor with our mats, which is generally uncomfortable during the rainy season; my son Dauda is laying sick.”
“We suffer during the rainy season; when it begins, we use zinc or polyethene to cover some portions, but it still doesn’t help much, and the cold bothers us a lot.”
Also, Ms Liatu Ayuba, a woman leader in the camp, said that the children are more at risk when it rains. She presumes that because they have low immunity due to bad diet and environmental factors, they often get sick as soon as they are exposed to the harsh rainy weather.
“When it rains, things don’t get any easier for us. No matter how well we try to mend the improvised shelter, the rain will eventually wash away our efforts and soak our belongings. Insects form, enter, and become plums. Some don’t have mattresses, others sleep on mats, yet others sleep just on the ground.
The Wassa Internally Displaced Persons Camp, is also in the FCT. However, despite the fact that it is a permanent structure (although an abandoned mass housing estate), the houses do not have doors or windows, nor do they have any drainage channels.
The camp coordinator, Godfrey Bitrus, said residents get sick more frequently at this time of year (July), adding that malaria is more probable to occur; “residents do not have enough money for food or to go to hospitals to get treated for their illnesses,” he lamented.
Dr Aisha Muazu, in charge of the Durumi camp mini clinic established by her organisation, “Network of Aid for Humanitarian Assistance’, called on the Federal Government to reinforce the structures at the IDP camps and come up with durable solutions for providing permanent housing for them.
The Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons, Hajiya Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, gave assurances that the government would make efforts to alleviate their suffering and find long-term solutions to the problems they face, while also making preparations to return them to their homes.
According to her, plans have been finalised for the construction of five resettlement cities across the country, for internally displaced persons.
The pilot states for the resettlement centres’ are Borno, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Nasarawa, and Edo states.