As President Goodluck Jonathan toured some parts of the country hit by the recent flood disaster last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank on Saturday said Nigeria and other countries in the Sahel region could face a serious humanitarian emergency.
Saying the prospect of regional insecurity, drought and poor harvests loomed, the multilateral institutions raised the alarm on the “humanitarian emergency” in West Africa’s Sahel region, where millions risk starvation amid regional insecurity, drought and poor harvests.
Reacting to the recent threats to the economies of the affected countries, the IMF and the World Bank feared that the emergency situations brought about by a combination of flood disasters and general insecurity could climax in a devastating food crisis in the region.
In Nigeria, the flood disasters, which started as flash flooding in different parts of the country since the onset of the rainy season in April, suddenly became intensive by late August, with unprecedented flooding in Oyo, Plateau, Bayelsa, Delta, Anambra, Taraba and few other states.
But the joint development committee of the IMF and World Bank which are holding annual meetings in Tokyo stated, “We are troubled by the acute humanitarian emergency in the Sahel region where hunger threatens the lives of 19-million people and the stability of the region.”
“Food security and food price volatility remain persistent threats to development and merit continued attention.” The financial institutions therefore called for accelerated efforts to help millions in the vast desert area “permanently escape the cycle of emergency aid”.
The Sahel stretches across a swathe of West Africa, including Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal.
This year, more than 18-million people in the region have been hit by a severe food crisis, with some 1.1-million children facing acute malnutrition, according to the United Nation (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
In Nigeria, by mid-September, dams were overwhelmed giving way to flooding that sacked so many communities that hitherto lived peacefully in their domain in more than 20 states of the country.
The North Central states of Nigeria have been particularly vulnerable, especially, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Benue and Nasarawa. Other states roiling under the siege of storm water include Anambra, Edo, Enugu, Akwa Ibom and Delta, among others.
The flood overflow of the Lokoja-Abuja Road which rendered it impassable has made the issue of flooding a serious matter; given the fact the road is a major road linking different parts of the country to the Federal Capital Territory.
President Goodluck Jonathan had a fortnight ago set up a high-powered committee charged with the responsibility of raising funds to cushion the effects of flood disasters across the nation. The Flood Relief and Rehabilitation Committee as it is known, has business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, chairman of Globacom, Chief Mike Adenuga and a human rights lawyer, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) as the helmsmen.
The government also approved N17.6bn as direct financial intervention in the cases of flooding currently ravaging many parts of the country.