Nigeria: “The Red Cross has brought me great relief”

Published: 2 July 2013 0:30 CET

By David Fogden, IFRC, and Victoria Madamidola, Nigerian Red Cross Society

“This is an experience I will never forget because, without this assistance, the village would still be in ruins,” says Alhaji Gimba Suleiman, a 72-year-old rice farmer from Ozahi, Kogi State in Nigeria.

Gimba’s family is one of 30 households in Ozahi receiving support from the Nigerian Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to rebuild their homes, which were destroyed when the village was flooded in the latter half of 2012. He is currently living about 15 kilometres away, in Gegu, with his wife and five children, but he returns to his village every day to work on his farm.

“I am happy for what the Red Cross is doing here because I have never experienced it before,” he says. “It would have been very difficult for me to build another house, but the assistance given by the Red Cross has brought me great relief.”

Gimba now hopes to get a good yield from his crops so he can complete his house with concrete blocks.

When asked about how well prepared he is for flooding if it happens again this year, Gimba replies: “I am sure of the quality of the house that has been built. It will be able to withstand flooding. I have lived here a long time, and could not ever leave as it is my native land.”

The Nigerian Red Cross Society and the IFRC are working with local authorities in Kogi State to ensure that all 100 households receiving support with the repairs and rebuilding of their homes are issued the necessary documentation that gives them the customary right to occupy their new premises.

Last August, heavy rains began in Nigeria, leading to the worst flooding the country had experienced in 40 years. Hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed, along with farmland, schools and health care centres.

The IFRC launched an emergency appeal to support 50,000 people. It worked through the National Society and its volunteer base to provide much needed blankets, shelter kits, clean drinking water and latrines. That appeal was later revised to ensure that the operation could continue throughout 2013, to help vulnerable families better prepare in the event of further flooding during the rainy season.