The worst flooding in 40 years leaves close to half a million Nigerians fighting for their lives

Published: 9 November 2012

9 November 2012, Abuja, Nigeria — As Nigeria copes with its worst flooding in 40 years, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for assistance to help thousands of people recover from this unfolding disaster.

“We desperately need to bring the world’s attention to this on-going silent emergency,” said Bello Hamman Diram, Secretary General, Nigerian Red Cross Society. “There are very few humanitarian actors here in Nigeria. The Red Cross was one of the first to respond and we will be the last to leave. But for us to be able to assist those who are most vulnerable, we require financial aid. Without it, the future for hundreds of thousands of Nigerians will remain very precarious.”

Heavy rains began in late August, causing flooding that damaged or destroyed close to 27,000 homes, as well as farmland, schools and health care centres. More than 422,000 people are affected across eleven states; more than half of them are currently living in tented communities, while others have crammed into schools and churches. Many do not have the basic necessities of food, clean drinking water and shelter.

“In the lower delta regions, water levels continue to rise, meaning hundreds of thousands of men, women and children will have no choice but to continue living in overcrowded camps,” said Steve McAndrew, IFRC Head of Emergency Operations. “In the upper states, receding waters are allowing people to return home. However, they are finding their homes in ruins, and their livelihoods destroyed. It is imperative that we help them re-establish their lives. We also have to reach those who have sought refuge in schools and camps to help reduce the spread of disease that often accompanies overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions.”

The Nigerian Red Cross has an extensive volunteer network, but washed out roads and tenuous security situations are making it difficult to reach some of the affected areas. As volunteers do arrive at the temporary encampments, they are helping to provide first aid and health care. They are also delivering items like shelter kits and tarpaulins, however, pre-positioned stock is quickly being depleted.

In September, the IFRC launched a preliminary appeal to support emergency response operations, however as assessments continue to shed light on this developing disaster, the appeal is being revised upwards, seeking at least 2.8 million Swiss francs. Funds raised will be used to support 50,000 people through the provision of blankets, shelter kits, clean drinking water and latrines, kitchen sets and hygiene kits.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil¬lion people each year through its 187 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

In Nigeria:
Nwakpa On, communications officer, Nigerian Red Cross
Mobile: +2348034736200 / +2348023273627

Steve McAndrew, Head of Emergeny Operations, IFRC
Mobile : +61 435 254 668 / +41 79 708 4579

In Ethiopia:
Katherine Mueller, communications manager, Africa, IFRC
Mobile: +251 930 03 3413

In Senegal : (in Nigeria Nov. 16 – 25)
Moustapha Diallo, communications officer, IFRC
Mobile : +221 77 450 1004