NIGERIA: Floods leave thousands homeless

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Floods in various parts of Nigeria have forced thousands of people from their homes, polluted water sources and increased the risk of disease.

At least nine people have reportedly died in the flooding, which has been most severe in the southwest and nearly one thousand kilometres away in the northeast.

“Some lost their lives but I was lucky; I lost just my home and my business to the flood,” said Bola Aloba, a sawmill owner in the Kosofe district of Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city. Her entire stock of wood was washed away after the nearby Ogun River burst its banks.

Officials counted six drowned bodies in Lagos while more than 4,000 people have been left homeless.

In Kosofe district more than 200 buildings have been flooded, Aloba told IRIN. Further downstream in the Ikorodu district of Lagos, most homes were submerged in waist-high water, forcing residents to leave with what few belongings they could carry on their heads.

Flooding has also been extensive in neighbouring Ogun state. In Ogun’s state capital of Abeokuta, some 80km north of Lagos, 400 houses were flooded last week, the government's commissioner for health, Abiodun Oduwole, told IRIN. The state government has moved more than 1,000 people into temporary shelters at local schools.

Oduwole has appealed to donor organisations for help.
A team from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has visited the shelters at Abeokuta and UNICEF has provided some relief materials, including insecticide-treated mosquito nets, immunisation kits, vitamin supplements, antibiotics and anti-malarial drugs.

In the northeastern state of Borno, floods washed away the Damboa bridge linking the state capital Maiduguri with three neighbouring states. Three people drowned in Borno’s Chibok district when water swept away homes, Ibrahim Musa, a local government official, said.

Flood waters have spread pollution into wells, rivers and other sources of drinking water, threatening a rise in waterborne diseases, malaria and respiratory infections, health officials said.

Source: IRIN