Flooding Cuts off 40,000 People from Food Supply in Borno, Says UN


Michael Olugbode, Maiduguri

The United Nations has said flood has cut off over 40,000 persons from food supply and other humanitarian services in Rann, northern Borno.

A statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of the Humanitarian Affairs on Saturday said: “More than 40,000 men, women and children – mostly internally displaced people – have little or no access to food or services in the town of Rann, Borno State, due to heavy flooding of the River Kaalia in neighbouring Cameroon since 7 November.”

The statement further said the flooding damaged an estimated 4,000 hectares of farmland and destroyed crops that are the main source of food for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) staying in Rann.

It lamented that stranded the population are running short of food and those who can afford it are paying high sums to be transported to the other areas, and putting their lives at risk while crossing the river or travelling to safety.

It said more than 300 people from Rann, a remote town in an area where violent attacks from non-state armed groups are frequent, who don’t have access to humanitarian assistance due to the high insecurity and poor road conditions, have managed to reach Ngala, a town some 40 kilometres away, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IOM claimed they had managed to leave Rann before the road became impassable.

The statement by UN-OCHA said humanitarian partners are mobilizing resources to reach the stranded population via the UN Humanitarian Air Services until access is secured for small boats.

Providing food is the main priority, along with water, shelters and emergency health services.

The statement further said in neighbouring Adamawa State, more than 100,000 people are also affected by severe flooding across seven local government areas since 27 October, following torrential rainfall and overflow of water from the Niger and Benue Rivers.

It said the Adamawa floods have caused the displacement of about 19,000 people and the government, leading on the response, has opened nine camps for IDPs.

It said the UN and humanitarian partners are scaling up assistance in Adamawa State as well and have already provided reproductive health kits to more than 56,000 people; non-food items to 400 families; and farming items to 4,000 families in areas that were not reached by government assistance.

The UN lamented that Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno and Adamawa States are currently facing the worst floods in seven years, which have destroyed homes and livelihoods across entire communities in the region. About 300,000 people have been affected by floods so far this year, which is at least five times more than expected in the humanitarian contingency plan based on an average from previous years.

The latest flooding, coming at a time when the rainy season would usually be over, compounds an already dire humanitarian situation in two of the three states most affected by the 10-year conflict, with 7.1 million people in need of urgent assistance this year.

The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria is seeking $848 million to assist 6.2 million people and is 60 per cent funded so far.