We do our best in Nigeria

Published: 2018-10-18

IHP has been deployed to Nigeria floods with three staff and one ICT module, as a support to the UNDAC team. This is the worst floods since 2012 and large areas along the rivers Niger and Benue are under water.

Overall, twelve states are affected, whereas four are declared under state of national disaster and eight are under red alert. More than 1,9 million people are affected and approximately 300 000 have left their homes.

Besides us from IHP, the UNDAC team also consists of staff from MapAction, Atlas Logistique, REACH/IMPACT and ECHO. We have been divided into three sub-teams working in different areas of the country. The response is being led by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in coordination with humanitarian partners. The UNDAC sub-teams are embedded in NEMA to support in coordination, information management and reporting.

Myself, I am part of UNDAC Team B, which is working in Kogi and Edo states. The Emergency Operation Center (EOC) where we are working is located in Lokoja, a remote city with around 100 000 inhabitants. It’s located where the two main rivers, Niger and Benue, meet. The nearest larger cities are Abuja, 3 hours away, and Benin City, 6 hours away by road. Thunderstorms with heavy rain are common during nights, and after the storms the whole city is usually out of power for several hours the next day.

When we go to the EOC in the morning, we realize that there is no power, the generator is out of fuel and there is no money to by fuel. We start working with our IT equipment, and a couple of hours later the equipment has no more battery and we have to continue with a pen and a piece of paper. This is the reality that local emergency responders have to cope with every day.

The lack of resources makes the assessment and analysing process challenging, which delays the possibility to request for assistance. In the area where we are working there are 800 000 affected people that are waiting for help. One sign of relief is the water purification unit with a capacity of 4000 litres per hour, but the challenge is to transport the water to the people in need as there are almost no trucks that can deliver the water. We can only be optimistic and do our best.

IHP/MSB staff Sven-Olov Sjöqvist

IHP and UNDAC staff in team B working in Kogi and Edo states (photo: Sven Olov-Sjökvist)