Displacement & MigrationHumanitarian CrisesNews

Draught, Water Scarcity Displacing Many In Nigeria’s Yobe State

The dry season that takes place from November through May has typically been associated with drought and food insecurity in Yobe State, Northeast Nigeria. However, from the assessment, respondents maintained that the scale of displacement witnessed this year was unprecedented.

Water scarcity and drought-like conditions are forcing the displacement of people living in communities across Tarmuwa and Gujba Local Government Areas (LGA) of Yobe State, Northeast Nigeria. An assessment conducted by REACH —a humanitarian initiative that provides data on crisis and displacement— from Thursday, March 10, to Tuesday, March 15, 2022, revealed that locals who are leaving their homes are seeking refuge in central towns where they have to rely on the assistance of host community members, government officials, and Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). 

The study conducted key informant interviews with 17 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from hard-to-reach areas of Tarmuwa and Gujba LGAs, and three host community leaders in Babban Gidan town of Tarmuwa LGA and Gujba town in Gujba LGA, that are seeing large numbers of arrivals.

From the interviews, IDPs unanimously pointed to water scarcity as the reason most people chose to move from their settlements to their present location. Other reasons gathered were lower rainfall, unsatisatisfactory harvest, fuel scarcity, and presence of terror groups.

The annual prevalence and severity of dry seasons, and its accompanying drought-like circumstances, often triggers some level of migration as a coping mechanism, the report said. However, from the interviews, respondents maintained that the scale of displacement witnessed this year was unprecedented.

According to the assessment, the scale of displacement across Tarmuwa and Gujba LGAs is much larger than during the previous years. Respondents said in the past, a comparatively smaller division of the population would be compelled to move due to water scarcity. They said most people would have coped by relying on water vendors, water trucking services or by digging wells.

However, those interviewed said the cost of accessing water started to surpass the cost of living which forced more people to leave their areas of origin.

Displacement journeys to Gujba Towns in Gujba LGA, and Babbangida town in Tarmuwa LGA. Photo: REACH

While they noted that there’s access and availability of potable water at host communities, the IDPs decried lack of shelter, food insecurity, and prices of non-food items going up regularly.

Community leaders from Gujba town, Babban Gida, and Buniyadi mentioned the gaps in food security was due to reduction in service provision from humanitarian organisations since last year.

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Zubaida Baba Ibrahim

Zubaida Baba Ibrahim is a journalist and a creative writer. Her works have been featured on Daily Trust, Premium Times and Guardian. She also has experience in broadcast journalism and is a graduate of Mass Communication from Baze University, Abuja. She tweets through @zvbaida

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