Providing lifesaving assistance to people affected by recent floods

Publié: 4 janvier 2013 20:25 CET

By Moustapha Diallo

The weather is now warmer in Udagba, in Edo State, Nigeria. Life appears to have returned to normal, but the scars left by raging waters during the months of August and September are still raw. Most people have returned to what remains of their homes after having stayed for several weeks in cramped camps or schools.

Like thousands of people affected by the floods in Nigeria, those living in Udagba are fighting to rebuild their lives and the Nigerian Red Cross Society is there to help.

With support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Nigerian Red Cross Society is focusing on lifesaving relief priorities, which are dictated by the most immediate and critical needs of the men, women and children who lived through the floods.

Volunteers with the Nigerian Red Cross Society have been on hand to help people from the beginning. Thousands were sent to some of the hardest-hit communities and camps to provide first aid, psychosocial support and health education.

More than 5,000 people were assisted in the immediate aftermath, receiving items like shelter kits, tarpaulins, buckets, mats, jerrycans, kitchen sets and clothing. It is in Udagba that a second round of distributions targeting 12 states has officially begun.

“This assistance is invaluable to us as we lost everything during the floods,” explains Mary Okpoh, a 56 year old widow with eight children. “But it is also important that we think longer term. We need to start building better drainage systems, bridges and houses.”

The Nigerian Red Cross Society is taking an holistic approach to helping those most affected. “Our work will go beyond the distribution of relief items,” says Stephen McAndrew, head of emergency operations for IFRC in Nigeria. “We will embark on disaster risk reduction projects and cash transfer programmes in some communities to help people restore their livelihoods. These kinds of programmes will help families become more resistant to disaster in the future.”