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June 2023

The UNICEF estimates that at least 729,000 people were affected and 526,000 displaced in Anambra State, following last year’s flooding.  In Anambra West and Ogbaru towns where farmlands and houses were completely submerged, the Latter-day Saint Charities–an arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, partnered with the Catholic Relief Services, a humanitarian agency to provide relief for poor and vulnerable households.

Onyia Benjamin, a farmer in the Umudora Anam community in Anambra West, was the first victim. The flood started from his four hectares of farmland and destroyed over 1,200 Yam Tubers, Maize and Cassava.

“It was in September 2022, I could not recover anything,” he said. “Back at his home, water entered into my living room forcing me to move some property to an upstairs apartment owned by my landlord,”.

“Some foodstuffs and other properties that I could not move quickly were swept away by the gushing floods,” Benjamin further explained.  “Me and my family stayed in our landlord’s apartment for two months until the flood receded,”.

Validation of Selected Beneficiaries in Anambra West. (Credit: Christianaedith Oyahagha)

The Nigerian Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said that last year’s flooding cost Nigeria between $3.79 billion to $9.12 billion in total direct economic damages.

Anambra West and Ogbaru are along the banks of the river Niger. While Anambra West is surrounded by both River Niger and the Omambala River, Ogbaru is located along the banks of the River Niger and each time these Rivers overflow their banks, they are emptied into the communities, leading to the destruction of livelihoods.

The Nigerian government claims it approved national emergency flood preparedness and response plans to mitigate and reduce the impact of floods, with relief materials reaching at least 315,000 displaced persons across the country. However, Benjamin and other community residents say they did not benefit from it.

“Sometimes, me and my family went without food and had to depend on help from friends and family members to survive,” he said. “I stayed up some nights, thinking of all that I had lost and how to recover,”.

“This February, I was in my house, after the flood had receded when a group of people from the Justice Development and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Onitsha came and said they wanted to register me for a project that is intended to reduce the impact of flooding on impoverished and vulnerable communities,”. I did not pay attention to them because I have written my name severally for help and nothing happened,”.

Funded by Latter-day Saint Charities (LDS Charities), an arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ efforts to provide succour for families of all nationalities and religions and offer hope for millions of people around the world, the project involved a two-tranche unrestricted cash transfer and a one-time non-food item (NFI)assistance.

JDPC Project officer, Nwekeagu Shadrach addressing at IDPs Ogbaru LGA Secretariat

The implementation was led by CRS, the nonprofit does not work directly with communities, but partners with nonprofit organizations to provide humanitarian assistance to people in need. Anselm Nwoke, the organization’s partnership and capacity-strengthening coordinator in Nigeria, said that the assistance came after the Archdiocese of Onitsha requested support to respond to the flood victims in Anambra.

In the state, 4 communities in Anambra West and Ogbaru were selected to benefit from the project, including Umudora and Umuikwu Anam, Ossomala and Umunankwo respectively. While about 700 households were captured during the registration, 350 were selected, including Benjamin’s family.

“After they convinced me, I gave my details and they took my picture and two weeks later, I was told that I had been selected to receive the financial support, “Benjamin said. “I went and saw my name and could not believe it because I thought it was one of the numerous scams,”.

An account was opened for Benjamin and two weeks later, he received the first tranche of payment and subsequently, received the remaining two tranches. “With the money and bought food for my family, buckets and other households’ items that the flood had washed away,” he said.

To select the beneficiaries, Anselm said that the NGO worked with the communities and church partners, to develop vulnerability criteria, including female-headed households, pregnant and lactating mothers and very elderly people among others.

Okoye Emeka, a staff of JDPC who worked as an enumerator for the project said that the registration process involved house-to-house visits where data was collected after which final selections were made, noting that many community members were repulsive because they thought it was one of those government scams.

He explained that flooding was particularly worrying because it further worsened the situation of many households who were still recovering from the flooding of 2012. At least 76 people who were trying to escape from the flooding died after their boat capsized in Ogbaru.

“After 2012, we have consistently experienced flooding that only impacts farmlands but not houses,”. Sadly, the government hardly comes to the rescue of affected households, they always come to collect names but never come back,”. “Even the roads that were destroyed, it was the villagers who came together to fix them,”.

A proof that the church cares

Director of JDPC at the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Rev. Fr. Edwin Udoye said that the flood assistance project gave the Catholic church a facelift by changing the perception that the church was only concerned about asking for money and not the welfare of the people.

“The church shared in their pains, there was no segregation in the selection process, both traditionalists and members of other denominations benefitted,”. “They felt the presence of the church in their midst”.

Director of JDPC at the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Rev. Fr. Edwin Udoye

He noted that the CRS had provided initial funding support to the Archdiocese for immediate intervention during the flooding, part of which was used to procure food items for victims and Cassava stems to enable the people to go back to their farms.

“Some of those whose houses were destroyed fixed them with the money, some of them also invested it back into their small businesses. “An estimated 4019 individuals from the 350 households have been touched through the emergency assistance project,”.

Hunger reduced

As the flood worsened, the woman leader of Ossomala community, Chukudifu Mercy took in over 15 households who lived in her upstairs apartment. Sometimes, they contributed money to buy foodstuffs.

“Severally, we ate without oil because the community markets were washed away by the floods and it takes 30 minutes on a normal boat and 15 minutes on a speed boat to get to the nearest market which usually opens every four days,” she explained.

“We were paying between N500 and 1000 to get there, people were sleeping, cooking and also selling inside the boat, “said Mercy who harvested her Cassava, albeit prematurely before the floods came and prepared it for any eventualities.

She however said that most members of her community cannot contain their joy as the assistance has given them reasons to live again and return to their farms. She said it grossly reduced hunger as households bought food that will sustain them before they start harvesting this year.

“Some households lost both the seedlings they stored in their houses, hoping to replant and those they are yet to harvest were destroyed, “she said. “They were not anticipating the flood”.

Project officer for JDPC Onitsha Archdiocese, Nwekeagu Shadrach said that the flood assistance project came when the people needed it the most and brought back lost hope.

Stakeholders’ engagement at Umuikwu and Umudora Anam Community in Anambra West

“The flooding and its attendant consequences had psychological effects on the people who wondered how they would survive and where the next meal will come from,” he said. “It did not look like help was coming from anywhere,”.

A community leader in Umuikwu Anam, Alfred Edozuno said that he had never seen such a promise made and kept since he was born, adding that it came at a time when members of his community had given up hope of receiving help from anywhere.

“The assistance has further proven to him that God exists and that he cares for his children through the church,” he said. “It has also shown me that the church does not only preach love but also practice it,” They wiped away the tears from our eyes because what happened to my community was indescribable,”.

“I lost my farmland and house to the floods and could not also harvest my Cassava and Yam Tubers, they became food for fishes in the water,” he explained. “When the JDPC team came, I did not want to attend to them because several people have come to my community to collect names of residents with promises to provide relief materials,”.

Edozuno said that the money helped to put food on his table because it was difficult to feed his family after the flood. With the money he received, he bought buckets and other household property that were carried away. He is also back on the farm again, having used part of the money to buy Cassava and Potatoes for replanting.


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In 2022, Nigeria faced devastating floods, it was the most destructive the country has experienced in a decade. Infrastructures, crops, and houses were damaged, leading to decimated livelihoods and the displacement of several households. This report examines how humanitarian initiatives helped victims rebuild their lives in Kogi State.

Friday Egwuma, a resident of Onyedega, one of the communities of Ibaji town in Kogi State and his family had gone to bed when he noticed water gradually flowing through the main entrance door, into his living room. It was past 9 PM on September 15th 2022.

“Quickly, I came out and started removing some of my property,” he recalled. “That night, I and my wife arranged chairs and placed a mattress on top of it, so our children could sleep,”. “I stayed awake till dawn,”.

“The next morning, the water increased and my house became uninhabitable,”. “I took some of my things to an upstairs apartment belonging to the traditional ruler of the community and begged him to allow me to pack them there and also stay with my family, he agreed,”.

An Enumerator, Hope Akwu registering a beneficiary at Onyedega

Other members of the community were also accommodated in the apartment.

In the aftermath of the flooding, Friday lost his Rice and Yam cultivation to the flood disaster. He had planted 12 basins of Rice and 3000 Tubers of Yam, hoping for a bountiful harvest.

“Soon, it became difficult for me to feed my family, we spent two months living outside our own house, “he said. “Although the community leader brought food, it was hard enough because of the crowd,”.

“As days passed and help did not come from anywhere, including the government that promised to support families affected by the floods, I gave up hope and resigned to fate, sometimes, we slept without eating, “Egwuma further explained.

Onyedema was one of the worst-hit Nigerian communities after the river Niger overflowed its banks, flooding houses and farmlands last year. Climate variability and the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in northern Cameroon are said to have worsened the flood situation.

Experts say that the 2022 flooding was the worse in a decade, with 662 people reported to have lost their lives while over 2 million were displaced. Even Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk said that the country lost between US$3.79 billion to US$9.12 billion in economic damage due to the flooding.

In August last year, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency sounded the alarm, urging state and national emergency management agencies to intensify response mechanisms as massive flooding was expected in 19 states of the country between August and October.  Sadly, there were no efforts to evacuate residents in Onyedega and surrounding communities that are most vulnerable to flooding.

Traditional Ruler of Ibaji, Dr. John Egwemi says his people are full of praise for the the LDSC and the CRS for the project

While available reports suggest that over 50,000 people in Ibaji–a coastal town were displaced and three persons killed by the flooding, residents say the casualty figure was more.

Hope restored

“Sometime this February, as I sat in front of my house, a team from the Justice Development and Peace Commission of Idah Diocese came and said that they wanted to register me for a flood assistance project, “said Egwuma. “I had doubts but I gave them my details and they left,”.

The project, known as the Emergency Assistance for People Affected by the Flood in Nigeria’, was implemented by Catholic Relief Services, an agency of the U.S Bishops with funding from the Latter-day Saint Charities (LDS Charities).

After two weeks, beneficiaries were selected, including Egwuma and bank accounts were opened in their names. Each of them received money in three batches to be used in the purchase of food and non-food items.

“I thought I was dreaming when I received the first transfer and then, the second and third ones came, “he said. “I was able to provide food for my family with the money, I also bought some rice seedlings and chemicals for my rice farm, including jerricans for water, and other household items that were washed away by the floods,”.

Anselm Nwoke, CRS’s partnership and capacity-strengthening coordinator in Nigeria explained that the flood assistance project was funded by Latter-day Saint Charities (LDS Charities), following a request from the Dioceses of Idah, which the NGO had been working with, to support them to respond to the flood.

“The main focus of the project was to enable people to recover from the effects of the flooding and it is part of our emergency response at the CRS,” he said. “But first, we responded with our private resources before we started seeking further assistance.”

Catholic Bishop of Idah Diocese, Most Rev Anthony Adaji says the project has restored lost hopes in Ibaji

CRS worked with community heads and church partners to select the most affected people, some of which includes female-headed households, pregnant and lactating mothers and very elderly people among others.

Like Egwuma, Ujah Japheth and her children escaped to Idah between October and November 2022, following the flood in her community which destroyed her house and the farmland where she cultivated 15 basins of Rice and 1600 Yam Tubers.

“It started gradually in August and I endured, but in October, it became serious and I ran to my sister’s house,”. She was helping to feed me because I could not do anything else,”.

Now, Ujah has gone back to her farm after she was selected and received flood assistance. With the money, she bought 400 Tubers of Yam and Four basins of Rice seedlings, Chemicals, water cans and cooking Utensils which the floods took away.

“I have also paid back some of the loans I took for my family’s upkeep while the flood lasted, I am happy I was part of the beneficiaries because I did not know how to get money after I lost everything,”.

Director of JDPC in Idah, Fr. Cyril Adama said that the benefitting households were chosen out of over 540 that were registered across three communities in Ibaji, including Onyedega, Iyano and Echeno in Odeke.

He said that they were selected using a participatory process, including clear targeting criteria and a scoring system based on the households’ vulnerability status index, after which the electronic platform, CommCare was used to facilitate the selection process.

Ogala Joseph is back to his Rice farm, thanks to the money he got from the flood assistance project

Community mobiliser/enumerator at JDPC, Ogwu Ibrahim said that at least 1500 individuals were positively affected. 

Catholic Bishop of Idah Diocese, Most Rev Anthony Adaji said that the project has restored lost hopes in Onyedega which has experienced recurrent flooding without government intervention. He said that it shows how much the church cares about the welfare of the people.

Preparing for the floods

Ogala Joseph’s Rice had already started to germinate when the floods came and destroyed everything. He had planted 10 basins and 2000 Tubers of yam, hoping for a bountiful harvest.

“My house was submerged and almost everything inside it was destroyed, I only managed to take out my bed with which my family slept on the main road for two months,”.

“Within that period, life was difficult for me and my family because we did not have money to feed, “he said. “Severally, my children fell sick due to cold but I could not afford to treat them,”.

After the JDPC team took his data, he kept hope alive that he will be selected. And thankfully, he was. “When the money came in, I rushed and bought a Canoe for N50,000 to be able to access my farm and other areas in case the floods come again,” Joseph said. “I also used the money to buy food items and chemicals for my Rice farm,”.

A lifesaver

Ceceilia Ukwo started working on people’s farms with her seven children after the floods destroyed everything she had. Sometimes, they gave her food and money. But it was not enough to keep her family going.

She had lost her husband years ago and so, the bulk of the responsibility of taking care of the home rested on her shoulders.  Three of her children were attending the Holy Angel Nursery and Primary School. She borrowed to pay their fees.

Ceceilia Ukwo used part of the assistance to buy chemicals for her Rice farm and clear her debts

One day, as she worked on her farmland, she received an alert but she did not know what it was. When she returned home and showed one of her neighbours who told her she had been credited by the JPDC under the flood relief fund project–she had been selected as a beneficiary.

“With the money, I paid back the loan hanging on my neck, “she said. “I also used it to buy Jerricans for fetching water for the house and Chemicals for my farm,”.  “I am really happy because I did not know where to get the money”.

Traditional Ruler of Ibaji, Dr John Egwemi described the project as giving his people a sense of belonging and hope to live again after the destructive floods. He said that each time he returns home, his people ask him to thank the CRS and the LDSC for bringing back their joy.

“They have continued to express their appreciation to the non-profits for robbing smiles on their faces”. “Most of them are investing the money back into their farms with the hope of making profits, “he said.



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In Nigeria, many women suffer ailments resulting from the use of firewood and data from the World Health Organization estimates that over 98,000 of these women die annually as a result.  Some of these women-especially those who are into palm kernel processing-are aware of the implications. But with no support to adopt more energy-efficient methods, they risk their health to earn a living. Arinze Chijioke reports. 

Inside an open space roofed with corrugated zinc sheets in the Garki area of Enugu State, Southeast Nigeria, smoke constantly goes up and disappears into the horizon. Metal drum containers are holding water and Palm kernel Sludge, the residue obtained from oil palm mills after the extraction of oil from palm nuts.

Nwani Catherine stands with her hands firmly holding a long, wooden stick which she uses to stir the metal drum containers, one at a time. At intervals, she uses her drenched shirt to wipe the beads of sweat on her face.

Catherine pours water into one of her drums

The heat from the three-stoned open cooking fire is unbearable and leaves her wheezing badly from firewood smoke, tears welling up in her eyes. But she has to stir for hours to get oil from the Sludge which companies come to buy and further process into detergent, soap, perfume, cream and other products.

This has been her routine since 2017, two years after her husband died and left her with the burden of catering for their four children.

Before she was introduced to the business by a friend, Catherine sold foodstuffs inside Ogbete, one of Enugu’s main markets. But it was not profitable. Sometimes, she made a profit of N200 after each day’s sale.

“I felt I needed another business to be able to take care of my children, “she said.  It is what money I earn from here that I pay their fees and our rent”.

Initially, when she started the business, she was buying the Palm Kernel sludge directly from artisanal and small-scale oil palm mills and processing it further to get other products. But with time, she could not afford to buy directly. Now, she works for a group of women who own the business.

Every day, at 6:30 am, Catherine leaves her house to ensure that she gets to the location before 7 am. Sometimes, she treks. Most of the time, she boards a bus. At the location, she separates the Sludge which often comes in different bags into 12 drums after which she sets fire to them and begins to stir.

“The Sludge is usually hard when poured into the drums, “she said. “I have to go round and stir each drum for hours to get the liquid content and also ensure that it does not burn”.

At intervals, she ambles to the stream close to the location where she gets water used in the processing.  After processing, the oil stays at the top of the drum while palm kernel cake- another by-product stays at the bottom.

The next morning, she begins her day by scraping the drums for the Cake which can be used as feed for swine and also serves as manure routinely used by smallholder farmers. It is also used to replace up to 66 per cent of chemical fertilizers in palm plantations.

She and other women who are in the processing business arrange the cakes into different bags and help load them into vehicles, earning N50 per bag. For each drum processed, the women earn N250. That is N3000 for 12 drums and N1500 for six.

Palm kernel cake used as feed for for swine and fertilizer for crop production

Whenever there is a scarcity of Palm kernels, the women go for two weeks and sometimes more without working and that affects their income. They leave the location between 5-6 pm daily.

Catherine often feels weakness in her bones and pain in her chest whenever she returns home after each day’s work. The smoke from the fire disturbs her eyes. But she rarely takes medication.

“I don’t want to get used to it and always spend my money on drugs, “she said.  “I have allowed my body to get used to the process. For my eyes, I buy Yeast and eat enough vegetables. I also drink soda water whenever it blocks my breathing”.

Africa is hardest hit

The use of open fires and solid fuels for cooking remains one of the world’s most pressing health and environmental problems, directly impacting nearly half of the world’s population- more than 3 billion- and causing nearly four million premature deaths each year, according to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, some 950 million people- about 81 per cent of the population- are said to rely on wood and charcoal for cooking, a number which is estimated to grow to 1.67 billion by 2050.

Research also indicates that the highest death rates from cooking fuel pollution occur in poorer African countries, with smoke inhalation from indoor and outdoor cooking causing between 1.6 million and 3 million deaths of children in the continent yearly.

Among the health issues arising from smoke inhalation In developing countries, including Nigeria include respiratory infections, eye damage, heart and lung disease and lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases and bronchitis which are significant causes of death in both children under five and women.

Of the 4 million global deaths recorded annually, 27% are due to pneumonia, 18% from stroke, 27% from ischaemic heart disease, 20% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 8% are from lung cancer, according to data from WHO data.

Kelo Uchendu, Policy Lead of YOUNGO, the UN Framework Convention on climate change, (UNFCCC) Children and youth constituency, said that apart from being one of the drivers of death, especially in Africa, open fire cooking remains one of the major causes of unsustainable tree harvest and is responsible for about 20% of black carbon emission.

The training process

Before Duru started the business in 2020, she was trained for two months on how to pour the chaff into the drums and what quantity to ensure that it does not waste as you turn. She was also trained on how to add fire to the product and what quantity of water to add and how to stir.

“If you pour too much water, for instance, it becomes hard for you to stir, “she said. “Some people learn everything about the business in one month while some catch up in three months,”.

When she resumed, she worked for one week and stopped because she could not bear the hit from the drums and the stress that comes with the processing. But she came back again, determined this time to work and earn money for herself and her family.

Duru stirs her drums of palm kernel chaff

The mother of five had worked as a caregiver in a private nursery school in Enugu where she was earning a meagre N5000 as salary every month.  But It was hard enough to meet her needs.

“Sometimes, I was not paid my salary in full and sometimes, they often withheld it, “she recalled.  “And it always resulted in quarrels. “I could not save up or invest in anything”.

But in her current job, she gets paid daily and earns more than three times her salary at her former school.  Depending on her strength, Duru earns between N1500 and N3000 daily. She also gets N500 as money for feeding daily.

“With the money I make, I am able to support my husband who is a commercial bus driver in taking care of the family, “she said.

Since she started the job, Duru has not fallen sick because she has become used to the business. She takes Sodar water because of the smoke she inhales Sometimes, I spend almost the entire day here.

Duru comes out here as early as 7 am to be able to meet up with her daily target. On arrival, she begins by scrapping the drums for Palm Kernel cake which she arranges in small bags.

Where the women fetch water used for production

Usually, when she returns home, exhausted, she lays down on a cement floor to be able to regain her strength. She said that several women had also stopped working after some time because they could not cope with the stress that comes with it.

Like Duru, Ngozi Godwin got into the processing business in 2020. Before then, she was into petty foodstuff trading inside Ogbete, Enugu’s Main Market. But the money she makes was hardly enough for her to pay bills back home.

A mother of five, she also worked as a cleaner as a government officer. But her monthly salary of N20,000 was often delayed. She always transported herself to the office, spending the little she had.  Sometimes, before she gets paid, she spends everything on household needs.

“It was hard for me to save, “she said. “All of that frustrated me and I had to find an alternative, especially as someone who had children,”. My sister who had been in the business for more than 20 years now introduced me to it.

Godwin pours water into the drum

She explained that although the processing business is stressful, it is more profitable and she can support her husband who is a commercial bus driver in taking care of the family. It also allows her more time to do other things for herself.

“I am often exhausted whenever I return home, but I must come the next day to work because I have to make money,” Now, I can save from the N3000 I earn daily”.

No efforts to invest in sustainable approaches

At the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26), African countries, including Nigeria renewed their commitment to transitioning from polluting cooking fuels. They were also determined in their call for an affordable energy transition.

However, Uchendu said that the Nigerian government often looks at the bigger picture without realistic timelines when talking about energy transition, and climate policies on strategies.

“The government is failing to understand the different small scale grass root innovations and how local women-especially those into Palm Kernel processing- can be supported with more sustainable approaches to business, thereby increasing their income, “he said. “Their activities are hardly recognised”.

He noted that these women often resort to fuelwood at the expense of their health and the environment because they lack the funds to adopt more energy-efficient methods in their processing activities.

“Energy transition has to be a coordinated effort, from the bottom to the top and this means supporting women with cleaner and healthier alternatives which will cut down the time and resources used, that is lesser input and more output, “he said.  Private entities can also come in to invest in these women and boost productivity,”.

Catherine and other women remain hopeful that more energy-efficient methods will be introduced to make their work a lot easier and less harmful to their health.


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