A team from the National Coalition on Oil spills and Gas flaring (NACGOND) organised a trip to document, evaluate and assess the situation on the ongoing flooding of communities in the Niger Delta between the 8th and 11th October 2011. Our observations of the situation in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta state are presented below. At the time of writing this report, the water level is still rising in all the communities we visited and new areas are being flooded.
We can confirm that the situation in all the communities impacted is a humanitarian disaster and the locals are either receiving no relief materials or very little aid. There's very little or no presence of government officials, agencies, or humanitarian organisations in a majority of the communities listed below. Video recordings, photographs and testimonies are available. (link:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Niger-Delta- Watch/196214347067269)
The devastating floods have taken over a large percentage of the Niger Delta region, causing colossal damages to lives, properties, farmlands, domestic and wild animals and rendering an already poor populace impoverished. The impact on Bayelsa State is unimaginable. With a population of about 1.7 million people, in 8 Local Government areas, the flood waters have massively submerged and impacted on 6 LGAs, with an estimated population of about 1 million people.
EFFECT OF THE FLOOD
Let me quickly state here that the immediate effect of the flood is significant. The following are some major immediate effect of the flood,
1. Loss of Lives: Many people have lost their lives as a result of the ravaging floods. Some are documented, others are not. This is the most traumatic effect of the flood. Many who have lost everything including their loved ones will be traumatized for years to come.
2. Loss of Properties: The flood water have taken over towns, communities, villages, etc and many people have lost their houses, homes and other valuables amounting to millions of naira. These people are in a dilemma, what can they do?,help is not getting to them on time,thereby compounding their agony
3. Loss of Farmlands and source of livelihood:
4. Food scarcity and rising cost of food items:
5. Health challenges: Many affected people are in horrific living conditions. Many that are in the displaced camps are also in terrible conditions. These conditions poses a serious threat to their health and the health of others. If is not properly handled, there will be disease outbreaks and it will worsen an already bad situation.
6. Psychological challenges: Many are truly traumatized; they feel hopelessly helpless and will need professional help to get over their experience. Now these are some of the immediate effect of this ravaging flood.
1. The flood situation across the Niger Delta is alarming and everyone seem to be completely overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what is unfolding. People seem to be in shock and are completely helpless.
2. The water level across parts of Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta State is still rising, therefore all stakeholders must be aware that this might continue for a while.
3. Several communities such as Amassoma, Opokuma, Sabagria, Sampou and Kalama in Bayelsa state have been completely cut off by the floods following the rising water levels.
4. There is urgent need to tackle the problem of displaced persons and the provision of relief materials to the affected communities.
5. Farms have been destroyed and food stocks are rapidly being depleted.
6. There is acute shortage of relief materials in most communities, and even when they are available, they are inadequate.
7. The government must be resolute in ameliorating the suffering faced by those affected by the floods and must collaborate with emergency agencies and international NGOs.
8. There is poor coordination between the various organisations and there is urgent need to better manage the relief effort.
9. There is need for more data on the state of flooding. Accurate statistics, maps, aerial photographs and satellite images of flooded areas is important and would help for better planning.
10. Over 100 persons reported dead so far but the death toll is likely to rise rapidly.
11. There is a need to start planning the rebuilding and economic regeneration process immediately.
WHAT THE PEOPLE NEED NOW
In my view the immediate and pressing needs of the people includes
• Medical supplies and attention
• Food and water supply
• Foams and Mattresses
• Temporary shelters – Tents
CHALLENGES OF GETTING RELIEF MATERIALS FROM GOVERNMENT TO THE PEOPLE
Days after the flood started, many people are yet to receive any form of reliefs or help even though government have set up committees and released money for that purpose. The major problems of reliefs coming through the government and its agencies are Fraudulent diversion of relief materials
• Focus on the state capital and its immediate environs
• Difficulties in accessing it
• Grossly Insufficient
• Poor Organization and Co-ordination of the management and supply of the relief materials
• Lack of transparency in the process It is important to note that the list of flood-devastated communities below is not comprehensive as we did not have the capacity to visit all impacted communities in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta state.
RIVERS STATE – Monday 8th October
Ahoada West in Ahoada local government area – Several communities in Ahoada west area are seriously flooded and many families have been and are still being displaced by the devastating floods. This region is considered as an upland area and it was visible that the local folks were not used to such flooding. Locals did not have canoes to navigate in the flooded areas and had to wade through the flooded waters carrying their meagre belongings on their head. Flooded communities include .......
Omoku town in Ahoada local government area –A sizeable portion of Omoku town is under water.
According to locals, the water level started rising about a week ago and gradually took over parts of the town. Only roof tops of some houses are visible in parts of the flooded areas. At the time of our visit, we could see gushing water flowing into other parts of the town.
Ula Ikata – Community folks in this community had to abandon their village to seek refuse in the east west road, which was the only high ground they could find around them. Families camped out in the east west road with few belongings (mattress, sofas, etc) to spend the night.
East West Road between Ahoada and Imbiama – Flood waters gradually taking over parts of the east west road. Motorists were obliged to drive bumper-to-bumper slowly through the visibly rising waters on Wednesday 10th October. Long stretches of the road already under water and it is likely that the east west road could be cut off at that point if the water level continue to rise in the next 24hrs. The ferocity of the raging waters and the rapid current is quite scary. That portion of the road is littered with broken-down and abandoned vehicles.
Imbiama – 60% - 70% 0f the town and surrounding communities are under water.
Other flood-devastated communities in Rivers state are Otuasega, Ula Okobo, Okobe, Edeoha, Ikata, Iheuke, Ozochi, Ochigba, Abua, Imbiama
BAYELSA STATE– Tuesday 9th October
The situation in Bayelsa state is much worse than Rivers State. According to the Surveyor General of Bayelsa state, Surv. Ebisintei B. Awudu, over 55% of Yenagoa, the state capital is flooded. Communities affected by flooding in Yenegoa town are; Opolo, Okutukutu, Igbegene, Agudama, Akemfa, Obele, Tombia, Swale, Ovom, Amarata, Ekeki, Onopa, Okaka, Kpansia, Bioglolo, Yenezuegene, Akempai, Okolobiri. Gbarantoru, Bamadi, Bebelebiri, Famgbe, Ikolo Several displaced persons camps have been set up in the city.
(1) Samson Siasia Sports Complex were 3000 adults and 670 children are currently being accommodated. The situation at this centre was chaotic and it was obviously poorly managed. Several displaced community folks complained bitterly about lack of food and inadequate medical attention. Mr. Walter Aziza, 64, from Amassoma community complained that he came to the camp on saturday but has not had a meal since yesterday, and I must admit that he looked pale and sickly.
We saw members of the Child Protection Network (UNICEF), Nigerian Red Cross and NEMA (yet to set up tents). According to Mrs Mariam Komboeze of the Child Protection Network, the principal challenges in the camp were poor coordination between government officials and the emergency agencies and poor distribution of relief materials.
They require additional supply of food as current supplies are not sufficient, more mattresses, tents and clean water. She also remarked that the sanitation in the camp was poor, feeding was irregular and she would prefer that the professionals are left alone to do their job without too much interference from the politicians. We also observed a steady flow of newly displaced persons arriving at the camp.
(2)The BDGS camp - at the time of our visit was yet to be fully operational.
(3) Igbegene Camp (250 capacity) – Tents were installed yesterday and the camp will be officially open today by 6pm. Even though the camp was not yet officially open, 3 families from the surrounded flooded area were already installed in some tents.
We also saw an ambulance and a medical unit from the Bayelsa state emergency medical service at the site. According to member of this service, the Bayelsa state government has acquired 7 water ambulances for the riverine communities and 50 mobile toilets for the various camps. He also acknowledged that their services were completely overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster.
They were providing mostly malaria medication, pain relief tablets and treating cases of pneumonia, cold and catarrh. A senior NEMA official at the camp told us that they will be setting up 4/5 camps in Bayelsa state but their major challenge is actually finding primary or secondary school premises that are not flooded to set up camps, especially in SALGA LGA. We were told that each LGA have been provided with 6 boats to evacuate stranded community members in flood-devastated areas. Government representatives expected to coordinate the evacuation.
A committee has been set up to manage the consequences of the floods. Sub-committees including food, transport and logistics committees have also been set up. The Bayelsa state government has acquired 7 water ambulances to provide emergency medical care in the riverine areas. 50 portable toilets to be distributed to displaced persons camps. Other communities heavily impacted by flooding in Bayelsa state are: Southern Ijaw LGA– Amassoma (80%) and surrounding communities such as Ekpetiama, Gbarain clan, Amatoto, Perepom, Ogboin Clan
(SILGA) - Oporoma, Angiama, Onyama, Oweikorogha, Ayama, Aguobiri , luduon, and Obololi Olodiama Clan
(SILGA) – Ologbobiri, Korokorosei, Ikebiri, Azuzuama, Tebidaba, Ologboboro, Kasa-ama, Okpetuwari, Agoligbene, Ikianbiri, and Ondewari. Boma Clan
(SILGA) – Ekowe, Nangiama, Peremabiri (and 5 surrounding villages), Oporoma, Igbumatoru, Diobu, Opuama (and 12 surrounding villages), Eniwari, Emete, Fonibiri, Zezebiri, Kainaghabiri, Ekiambiri, Kianyanbiri, Olugbobiri, Opukiri, Polobubou, Emete, Opuama Apoi Clan
(SILGA) – Apoi, Ukubiye, Lobia, Furupa, Kokologbene, Isuini, Ogboinbiri, Osiama, Gbarain,
Sagbama LGA – Tungbo, Tunhbo, Kablama, Asamabiri, Ogolowa, Bolourua, Agoro, Adagbabiri, Kabiama, Toru Orua, Toru Angiama, Agorogbene, Ogobiri, Dakanagbene, Okunbiri, Ebeni, Ama tolo, Agbere, Ondoni, Trofani, Agalabiri, Ofoni, Ebedebiri, Ogoubiri, Okunbu, Fotorugbene, Anyama-Ebeni, Akedei, Osiama, Agoligbene, Egbepulugbene, Aguru,
Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA – Odi, Kaiama, Opokuma, Sampou, Kalama, Sabagria, Egbedi, Embiama, Gbarama, Polaku, Okoloba, Aya-ama, Ibie, Abasere, Igbeinwari, Ayokoroma, Amasso, Okorobene Ekeremo LGA – Ayamassa, Issapou, Eleibiri, Undoro, Okekegbogbene, Ogbolobe, Bebedokagbene, Akassagbene, Ngoloba, Egbidiama, Azagbene, Ekumugbene, Egbusuware, Obrigbene, Tamogbene,
Ogbia LGA – Imiringi, Otuoke, Kolo creek, Ayakoro, Ayanmam, Otuelu, Okodi, Emeya, kala Emeya, Opu Emeya, Kolo 1 – Kolo 3, Egeisama, Otuakeme, Otegua, Otuabagi, Ebelebiri, Otuogori, Otuedu, Ologi, Onu Ebum, Sangabama, Anyama, Ologohe, Olougonaga, Okiki, Otuekpein, Okodogo, Fiogiamo, Ewama, Epebu, Ewoi
DELTA STATE - Tuesday 9th October
Due to the east west road being cut off at the Patani axis, we were unable to continue beyond Patani to visit other affected communities in Delta state. Communities heavily impacted in the areas we visited are;
Patani LGA – Patani, Agulama, Epelebiri, Abari, Toru Angiama, Bolou Angiama, Ekperiwari, Udofiri, Adobou, Erohwa, Arioghete, Koloware, Agoloma,
Burutu LGA - Flood-devastated communities in Burutu local government area are: Ayakoromo, Bobougbene, Newtown, Akparemo, Oyangbene, Zion, Egolegbene, Asiayeigbene, Ogbodogbene, Gbekebor, Obotebe, Ofonibegha, Bolou-Ndoro, Torugbene, Ebeingbene, Bikorogha, Kiagbodo, Egodor, Okoloba, Ekorogbene and other surrounding communities.
THE WAY FORWARD (RECOMMENDATIONS)
We are in an emergency situation; millions of people are under threat with their homes and source of livelihood gone. Some have lost their loved ones. These people need immediate assistance and support. I think the objective of every intervention is to get help and support to those that are directly affected.
So for an immediate response, I recommend the following.
• The immediate supply of means of transportation, as this is key to accessing the most impacted areas in the creeks. Authorities should ensure that locals in remote riverine communities are rescued and taken to displaced person camps.
• Mobile camps should be set up using large barges, for inaccessible areas that do not have land.
• Urgent need to access satellite images / aerial photographs of affected areas across the Niger Delta region in order to ascertain the extent of damage and impact.
• The immediate supply of basic needs; food and water, medical supplies, clothings, mattresses, tents, etc.
• Sensitize the media on the scale of the flooding
• Setting up a structure to be steered by credible and recognized NGOs that will ensure that all victims get help. They are to work with relevant government agencies to achieve their objective. Ensure that there is transparency in the provision of relief materials by working with civil society and non state actors in monitoring the way relief materials are managed. Setting up a strong supervision and monitoring structures will help in co-ordinating and monitoring of the process and getting updates with a view to reviewing whatever strategy of supply and support that is not working.
• I want to also suggest the setting up of an independent technical committee to consider the long term effect of this flood and the needs of the people. It should be made up of professional NGOs (both Local and International) IOCs, Government officials etc. The objective is to develop a realistic, achievable framework to bring lasting succour to those affected by this devastating flood. Economic activities in all affected communities have been wiped out. Therefore, there is a need to seriously start the planning process of an economic regeneration/diversification scheme across the region. RISKS.
• Outbreak of epidemic diseases in the displaced persons camps but also in the communities.
• Acute food shortages and high prices of available food
• Serious risk of a sharp rise in criminality in the region as people desperately try to survive by any means necessary
• Risk of mismanagement of aid materials and funds by corrupt officials with the complicity of some security personnel
• Possible increase of illegal refining activities that will have negative environmental consequences in the region.
• Increase in poverty level and jobless rate
• In the medium/long term - possible resurgence of militancy and militant activities in the region This report results from a visit to the region by a team from the National Coalition on Oil spills and Gas flaring in the Niger Delta (NACGOND) between 8th-11th October.
Picture/video link http://www.facebook.com/pages/Niger-Delta-Watch/196214347067269