At least 50 people have died in floods caused by exceptionally heavy rains in northern Nigeria’s Jigawa state since the start of the wet season in June, an official said Monday.
Jigawa, similarly to other states in the agrarian region, records flooding every year but this has been the worst deluge it has experienced, according to the state emergency management agency (SEMA).
“Cumulatively, we have recorded 50 deaths from flooding across the 27 local governments in the state,” Yusuf Sani, head of Jigawa’s SEMA told AFP Monday.
“The last few days have been quite challenging as rain fell for three days non-stop,” Sani added.
Emergency workers had been sent to affected communities to count the displaced but he estimated they were in the “thousands”, he added.
Kafin Hausa district has been the worst hit, with 10 people killed, 68 hospitalised and 1,436 displaced — most of them from Balangu village where 237 houses were destroyed, Sani said.
He said that 11 temporary shelters for the displaced had been opened, including in schools that are closed for the holiday.
Aminu Ibrahim who lost his home to floods in Kirikasamma district now lives with relatives in a primary school along with 12 other displaced families.
“We sleep in classrooms on plastic mats provided to us by SEMA who also gives us some food,” Ibrahim said.
“The rain washed (away) our houses while we were asleep and we had no time to salvage anything but our lives. We have nothing left,” he said.
– More rain expected –
Emergency officials in Jigawa are concerned that the situation could get worse as more torrential rains are expected in coming days.
There are also concerns about the imminent release of water from the Komadugu river, a measure taken by the authorities to prevent the banks from bursting.
“We have asked all residents of villages along the river banks to evacuate as soon as possible because the water would be released any moment from now,” said Sani.
In addition, the overflowing of Tiga and Challawa rivers in Kano state into Jigawa state every year “substantially aggravates flooding” in the state, said local official Hamza Muhammad.
The unusually heavy rains, “which can be attributed to climate change”, had made things worse, he added.
Other factors include insufficient drainage, the clogging of river canals by weeds, and illegal constructions on the waterways, he added.
In 2020 at least 40 people were killed and more than 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of crops were destroyed by floods in the state, according to SEMA.
In neighbouring Kano state, flash floods have displaced around 3,500 in seven districts since June, according to Saleh Jilli, head of Kano’s emergency management agency.
In the latest incident, on August 4, flooding after two days of heavy downpour killed three people and displaced almost 500 in Ajingi district, said Jalli.