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Rainy Season Could Aggravate WASH Conditions In Nigeria’s Northeast

The rainy season in conflict-affected areas of the Northeast is usually associated with strong winds and flooding that worsen shelter and living conditions of the people. This is in addition to increasing risks related to poor water sanitation and hygiene in communities and displaced persons camps.

The start of the rainy season in Nigeria’s Northeast brings relief for locals from the scorching heat and creates conditions that facilitate farming activities. 

However, the flooding and strong winds that often come with the season worsen living conditions especially for vulnerable communities.  

Maiduguri, the Borno State capital experienced its first rainfall of the year on Tuesday, April 12. The rain was reported to be heavy and lasted at least 40 minutes. Was this a sign of what to come? No one knows yet. 

Earlier this year, Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMET) predicted that the annual rainfall amount is expected to be normal from April to July in most parts of the country with a range from 390 mm in the northern part of Nigeria to over 2790 mm in the south. 

Although there may be no reason yet for any apprehension for the vulnerable communities in Borno. But past experiences are pointers to what this year’s rainy season could have in stock for the communities. In 2021, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) programme revealed that 1,618 shelters were damaged by heavy rainfall in Jere, Maiduguri, and Konduga Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Borno State. 

These damages extended to the destruction of hundreds of water sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities whereby 22 per cent of most needed assistance were for damaged toilets and showers.

This year, a REACH assessment stated that 82 per cent of people in hard to reach areas of Adamawa and Yobe states also do not use latrines while 56 per cent reported to not have access to communal latrines. Others, representing 11 per cent also claimed that latrines available were usually overcrowded.

The lack of adequate WASH services is a driver of poor standards of living amongst people. This can be complicated if the rainy season comes with floods and heavy windstorms. 

HumAngle has reported how inadequate WASH facilities have hindered physical health, environmental protection and convenient time saving, especially for women and girls, as well as the security impact especially in the Northeast.

In Sept. 2021, more than 2,000 cholera and acute watery diarrhoea cases were reported in 25 LGAs of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) which was the first time in three years that BAY states were simultaneously hit by cholera outbreaks.

Apart from the funding gap affecting the humanitarian situation in the Northeast,  NiMET has also urged African leaders to take weather forecasts seriously to mitigate disaster.

Professor Mansur Bako Matazu, the Director-General of NiMet said the agency had been providing products and services that were very critical in achieving sustainable development and mitigating impacts of weather events, thus that Nigerians should leverage the weather products for daily decisions.

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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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