The devastating tragedy of the flood crisis at Shuwari 5 IDP camp
BORNO STATE REPORT
Twice dislodged, both geographically, several inhabitants of Borno IDP camps are presently fleeing a threat to their lives, posed by the intense rainstorms and ravaging flood. Following the heavy downpour of rain witnessed within the last two weeks, hundreds of tents at various IDP encampments were submerged in flood water for several days. This could mark the beginning of the anticipated peak of the rainy season, this year. The flood water no more recedes completely, before the next rainstorm occurs, thus leaving vast areas of the IDP camps perpetually engulfed in floodwater. From Shuwari 5 IDP camp in Dikwa LGA to Mashedumami Extension 2 camp in Konduga LGA, and many other IDP camps in the State, the flood situation has been extremely disturbing to the displaced persons, many of whom are crying out to the Federal and State Governments for urgent aid.
At the Shuwari 5 IDP camp in Dikwa LGA, most of the makeshift tents have been swamped, with valuable properties damaged beyond repair. Members of the Civil Societies Network, operating under the aegis of the CSO Situation Room, who visited the camp, observed that the daily rainfall volume had overwhelmed the drainage capacity of the local area, leaving several tents submerged in the flood for several days. The overall environment was in an uninhabitable state, as many displaced persons had to abandon their tents, to wait helplessly in the open, till the waters recede. Most of the people seen at the camp, looked deeply saddened by the flood disaster, as they recounted the loss of their personal belongings. Life is yet to return to normal at the camp. The waters are not receding fast enough, and the rains are bound to continue in relative proportions for a couple of months, before the end of the year.
There are environmental concerns as to the state of the camp and the harsh living conditions which the inhabitants, particularly the children, are subjected to. The flood erosion washes away a lot of sand, leaving many portions of the ground too slippery for children and adults alike, to move across without stumbling and sustaining injuries. There are also health concerns about the transmission of water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases at the IDP communities which have become more vulnerable with a high flood-risk exposure. Coupled with the dread of a widespread transmission of the coronavirus disease at the IDP camps, is the fear of contracting other non-viral diseases through contaminated floodwater. Flood often causes improperly disposed human wastes and other decomposing substances at refuse dump sites, to wash away, into areas inhabited by humans. When the flood water dries up, these sediments could remain on the ground and cause diseases to people, especially children who love to play outdoors. The polluted flood water may also find its way into the pipes that convey the water which the people drink and use for bathing, washing, etc. Cholera, diarrhoea and respiratory infections are common diseases that are endemic in IDP camps and many communities in Borno State, during the peak of the rainy season.
Many IDPs wait helplessly in the open, hoping to return to their tents whenever the flood recedes
The rains have had a huge impact on the people in the camp. Alongside the loss of shelter, they have lost the little comfort they may have had. Whenever it rains, many of them are seen clustering together under a tree within the camp where they can find protection from the rain. This has become the very pathetic plight of many IDPs, most of whom are women, children and the elderly. Some of them who spoke to the CSO team, lamented the loss of foodstuffs and medical drugs, which they said were being stored in their tents for future consumption. The flood took them unawares and they barely had enough time to salvage any item of value, before their entire tents were overtaken by the floodwater. They could only flee from the tents with their children, to save their lives, they said. The imminent danger posed by excessive flooding, such as drowning and bodily harm, as well as the shortage in food, water and electricity supply resulting from the frequent damage to infrastructure caused by the rainstorm, makes the situation a perfect nightmare for the affected IDPs.
The CSO Situation Room advocates very strongly for urgent assistance to be provided to the people living in the flood-prone Shuwari 5 IDP camp and other IDP camps that have been affected by the rains. These people urgently need alternative shelter in areas that are not susceptible to flood. They also are in dire need of a fresh supply of food and cooking materials, as well as potable water, new clothings, mattresses, bedsheets, blankets and other essential household needs. Considering that their tents may have been structurally damaged by the floods, the Borno state Government and the Federal Ministry of Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs should work expeditiously in ensuring that lives are not lost to the flood tragedy. In addition, there is the need for embankments to be erected around the camps to prevent an inflow of floodwater from the neighbouring streets, into the camps. This should be accompanied with the construction of flood ways to adequately channel the flood and divert it from areas inhabited by residents of the State. As soon as the flood is appropriately diverted, the government must ensure a timely assessment of the affected tents is conducted to ascertain how badly damaged they may be. Tents having badly-damaged internal and external fitting, should be promptly reconstructed. There ought to be sufficient plans put in place as preventive action for the potential risk of flood across the state.