In the final of this three-part series, Arinze Chijioke looks at the devastating impact of the 2022 flooding on households across communities in Anambra State and how the state government is failing to prioritise flood management in the state.

Benjamin Nweke clearly remembers the 2022 flooding in his Ossomala community in Ogbaru, one of the local governments in Anambra State.  It is a traumatic experience he prefers not to relive.

It all began one night in September.

He and his family were asleep when he noticed water entering his house. Gradually, he started moving some of his property to an upstairs apartment owned by his landlord, hoping that the water would dry up.

But as days passed, the water level kept increasing and he moved his wife and three children upstairs. He could not carry everything, and soon, the entire house was submerged. Some foodstuffs and other household items were swept away by the flood.

Umundeze Anam Community of Anambra west

“Me and my family stayed in our landlord’s apartment for two months” he recalled.  Within that period, it was difficult for us to feed, we had to depend on help from friends and family members to survive. “Our local market had been destroyed by the flood too,”.

Apart from submerging his apartment, the flood also destroyed his four hectares of farmland where he had planted over 1,200 Yam Tubers, Maize and Cassava, hoping to harvest bountifully. Every night, he woke up, thinking of how to rebuild his life.

His family is only one out of several households in Ogbaru who could not harvest their crops following last year’s flooding that destroyed lives, houses and farmlands.

The body of 70-year-old Sunday Mesiobi, was found dead after his house apartment was submerged by the flood in 2022. Mesiobi, who is said to be the uncle of Arinzechukwu Awogu, the immediate past Chairman of Ogbaru Council Area was a native of Ogbe-Akpoma, Atani community.

A vulnerable people

Flooding in Anambra State is usually caused by overflow of water from major rivers and worsened by climate change with increased and irregular rainfall. While the River Niger affects Ogbaru-which lies along the coastal area, Onitsha South and Onitsha North LGAs, Omambala River affects Anambra West and Anambra East LGAs.

Data from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) showed that Anambra state had the highest number of affected people with 729,046 out of which 526,215 were displaced, with Ogbaru LGA having the largest number of displaced people (204,339) people in the state. In all, more than 2.8 million people in 36 states in Nigeria were affected by the floods.

The proximity of these areas to the River Niger makes them susceptible to flood especially when the rivers overflow their banks, and there have been several incidents of flooding in the areas over the years – with its accompanying devastation of farmlands, buildings, roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and churches.

Due to a combination of the flooding and erosion menace, bridges on the Onitsha-Atani Road, Ossomala-Ogwuikpele-Ase Azaga-Ndoni road, especially the Ossomala bridge at Umunnakwo community, have collapsed, forcing residents to depend on boats for inter-community travels.

Umunankwo-Ossamala-Obeagwe-Ogwuikpele Road in Ogbaru local government

Further findings by this reporter showed that the central road connecting Ogbaru, a major food-producing area that hosts the eight viable oil wells in Anambra State, to Onitsha – Atani – Ossomala – Ogwuikpele – Ase Azaga – Ndoni road is in total collapse, making it extremely difficult to move our cash crops from the farms to the hinterland.

With over 600 people said to have lost their lives, 1.3 million people displaced, more than 200,000 houses either partially or fully damaged and more than 440,000 hectares of farmland partially or totally damaged, leading to a catastrophic loss of food access and livelihoods, the 2022 flooding was the worse flooding Nigeria has seen in more than a decade.

Failed promises, no commitment

After the flood wreaked havoc across communities in Anambra state, the state Charles Soludo promised to help flood-affected communities by providing them with relief materials. During his visit to Ogbaru, Onitsha North, Umuoba-Anam and Umueri, the governor was quoted as saying that he would also evacuate households and provide health services for the people.

Sadly, till now, many residents say they did not receive any help from the government as promised. Nwekeagu Shadrach,  Project officer of the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) Onitsha, which helped to provide succour to flood victims said that there was no swift response from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), during the flooding.

“They always say they were waiting for the state government to give approval and only responded after the International Organization for Migration (IMO) came into the state to distribute food items to victims., “he said.  “Their response was limited to those who were in IDP camps where they shared Beans, Rice and Garri.

IDPs sleep on mats at Umueri Unity Hall, Anambra East

He explained that In Anambra West and Ogbaru where a large population of the people remained in their communities, there was no help from the government. No medical intervention and no food.

Out of N1.3 billion (1,319,500,000.00) budgeted for Erosion and flood Control in 2022, N97 Million (97,018,967.74) was released In the first quarter,  a paltry N22,000  in the second quarter. By the third quarter, the original budget was revised to N595 million (595,500,000.00) and another paltry N59,000 was released, taking the total to 97,099,967.74, which is 16.3%.

Out of over N1 billion (1,182,280,454.00) budgeted for Erosion and flood Control in 2023, only N157 million (157,222,192.96) has been released In the first and second quarter, with the payment only coming in the second quarter, that is 13.3% of the total budget.  Available reports also show that between 2021 and 2022, the state government received N1.971 billion as its share of the ecological fund. Yet, there are concerns over its utilization in the state.

This August, the member representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Anambra state, Hon. Afam Victor Ogene, blamed the devastating flood and its impact in Ogbaru on the government’s dismal preparedness in addressing the root causes.

Displaced persons from Anambra West

Ogene, who is the Chairman, of the House Committee on Renewable Energy, said that despite seasonal climate predictions and annual flood outlook released by NiMet and NIHSA, both the federal and subnational governments are not showing any commitment to dealing with the challenge.

Last year, $700 million was given to the Nigerian government by the World Bank to help at least 3.4 million people adapt to the changing climate; develop 20 watershed management plans; and prioritise investments that can slow desertification, among others.

However, questions have been raised regarding how exactly the money has been utilized as flooding remains a major challenge, especially across rural communities in the country.

250,000 poultry birds destroyed

Patrick Ugboma owns the automated Matucci Farms located at Agbobo Umuoga Ossomala where he rears birds. As the flood raged, they ravaged his farm, killing about 250,000 poultry birds. The situation forced him to shut down the farm, with about 400 workers losing their jobs.

Dead chickens

This August, Ugboma sent a Save Our Soul (SOS) message on behalf of communities in Ogbru, calling on the federal government to expedite action towards tackling the perennial flooding in the area.

In the message, he said that agriculture, which was the mainstay of the people’s economic life has suffered unduly by the neglect of the community by successive state and Federal governments.

“These perennial floods have badly affected farming activities and further impoverished the people, “he said.  “Most of the communities have become inaccessible due to the decrepit state of the only road leading into all the communities,”.

Deaths and more deaths

In October 2022, more than 70 people died after a boat carrying at least 80 people, capsized in the Ogbaru. According to Chukudifu Mercy, a woman leader in Ossomala, one of the communities in the area, most of the victims were women and children, trying to reach safety after communities had been inundated by floodwater.

Umunankwo Community as the road to their community is flooded

Mercy recounted how she almost joined the boat on the day the incident happened.

“I had already prepared to escape with my family, but when we got to the location where the boat was waiting, I discovered that there were too many people on it and decided to go back home,” she said.

No sooner had she left the location than she got a call that the boat had capsized, killing scores of people on board. 60-year-old Benard Achonu, a resident of one of the communities in Ogbaru lost his wife and all three of his children, aged between two and six.

“I was devastated and did not know what to do, “said Mercy who took in over 15 households to live in her upstairs apartment as the flood raged. Sometimes, they contributed money to buy foodstuffs.

Mercy also recalled how she and other households ate without oil because the community markets were washed away by the flood and it usually took 30 minutes on a normal boat and 15 minutes on a speed boat to get to the nearest market which opens every four days.

“We were paying between N500 and 1000 to get there, people were sleeping, cooking and also selling inside the boat, “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.

Mercy said that she harvested her Cassava, albeit prematurely before the flood came and prepared it for any eventualities.

Advisory shows hopelessness in tackling root cause

Both the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) have that predicted 32 states, including Anambra will experience severe flooding again in 2023.

Bridge impacted by flood in Anambra

Back home, the Anambra State government, in what it described as flood mitigation measures, asked residents to plan ahead to get their families as well as the aged, the sick, pregnant women, infants and children evacuated well on time to safety nets (IDP camps provided by the state government ) to avoid preventable loss of lives as “timely evacuation is key”.

In an advisory-which the state Commissioner for Information, Paul Nwosu said was from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), residents were also asked to make concrete plans to secure their household properties and essential belongings as much as possible before the flood actually set in.

Also, they were also asked to make concrete plans for timely harvesting and evacuation of their farm produce and livestock to avoid losses. Nwosu listed high-risk areas to include, Ogbaru, Ayamelum, Anambra East, Anambra West, Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Awka North, Idemili South, Ekwusigo and Ihiala LGA.

But findings by this reporter showed that the living conditions across most of the camps for displaced persons where the government wants flood victims to relocate to in the event of flooding are poor.  After the 2022 flooding, most households who escaped to these camps were sleeping on the floor and on mattresses with wrappers. They were overcrowded and It was also alleged that the government failed to provide foams in some locations as promised.

Some camps in the state include; Crowder Camp in Onitsha, Unity Hall Umueri, Umuorba Primary School, Father Joe, Umundeze Primary School Ibite Ogwari Central School and Ugbuenne Central School.

Displaced residents of Ogbaru living along the road following their collapsed buildings.

Gboyega Olorunfemi, Principal Consultant, EnviromaxGlobal Resources Limited, Ibadan said that the statement government should focus on flood enlightenment and advocacy, letting people know about disaster kits and providing early warning signal tools/apparatus.

He however said that more focus should be on finding a lasting solution to the perennial challenge of flooding across communities in the state, rather than asking residents to plan to escape to IDP camps.

Daniel Nwabueze, a community leader in Atani, said that it was worrying that despite being a major food-producing area, Ogbaru had suffered years of neglect and abandonment by both the state and federal governments.

He urged the federal government to quickly dredge the River Niger which remains the only way out of incessant flooding in the state while also calling on the Anambra State government to supply yam seedlings and other farming implements to farmers in the area to boost agricultural production.

Meanwhile, back in Ossomala, Nweke is still struggling to get back on his feet again, after the devastating flood.


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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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