Nigeria: Building homes, building resilience

Publié: 17 juillet 2013 12:46 CET

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

The Niger River had always been generous to Issa Adoza, providing the 68-year-old with tilapia to feed his eight children and water during the rainy season to help his crops to grow. However, in 2012, heavy rains caused the river to overflow, causing serious flooding and misery for Issa’s family.

Issa lives in Ozahi, a small village in Kogi State and an area of the country that was one of the worst affected by the floods, the worst in 40 years. When the floods came, Issa travelled with his wife by boat to Ozi, a village on higher ground five kilometres away. They stayed there for more than three months. “Everybody scattered,” he recalls.

Once the flood water had receded, Issa returned to his village to find it in ruins. Mud bricks are commonly used to build the walls of houses and the walls simply “melted” away as the water rose, causing home after home to collapse. “The floods destroyed everything: my home and my crops. All my belongings were swept away,” sighs Issa.

The Nigerian Red Cross Society, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), is supporting 100 families in three communities in Kogi State whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged by the floods. In Ozahi, Issa’s is one of 30 households being helped to rebuild their homes using local practices. 

“We have used practices that people in the communities are already using and will understand, but we have adapted and improved them to help ensure their homes are safer and more resilient should there be further flooding,” explains Abdulkadir Bello Ahmed, a disaster management officer and shelter focal point at the Nigerian Red Cross Society.

Each house has a wooden frame, which is fixed to concrete columns using storm straps to ensure it will not collapse during floods. The zinc roof is also braced and fixed using the straps to secure it during high winds. The walls are made of concrete, which are built five blocks high on a cement and sand foundation. The floor is also made of concrete, and mud slopes outside the exterior walls allow water to flow away from the house. 

Once this has been completed, the families themselves are then responsible for fortifying the walls using any materials they are able to afford. Red Cross community members teach families about safer building practices that can further protect their homes, such as using mud bricks to build up the walls, using a polythene layer between them, and concrete bricks to stop them from absorbing water.

The 2013 rainy season has begun, but Issa is confident that his newly completed house will stand up should there be further flooding. “No flood will take this one away. I feel very safe. Only God will bring it down. My grandson’s grandson will be able to live in this house!”