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Climate Change: How Flooding Impacts Learning among Nigeria Children

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By Seun Omole

Flooding is one of the major environmental problems facing man, it is considered as the most damaging climate related hazard in the world.

In Nigeria, it has become an annual problem, the impacts are felt by individuals and by societies, through loss of property and infrastructure, damage of farmlands , displaced water-living wildlife , posing threats, contamination of drinking water , spread of waterborne diseases, fatalities and loss of wellbeing , loss of livelihoods, economic depression and hindrance in achieving social development goals, such as safety, eradication of poverty and obstruction to children’s learning.

According to Nigeria Government Data, the 2022 floods had displaced over 1.4 million people, killed over 603 people, and injured more than 2,400 persons.

Also, about 82,035 houses had been damaged and 332,327 hectares of lands affected.

Floods have led many schools to be closed, leading to students drop-out, destruction of properties, infrastructure and obstruct formal learning activities. When floods occur, schools are either closed or partially submerged in floodwaters and this makes the roads, bridges and footpaths impassable for students and teachers.

Across the country, a lot of public schools are also being used as camps to accommodate people who have become displaced by the floods , this means that students will be unable to access classrooms as they have been turned into shelters.

UNICEF estimates that 1.5 million children’s education is in jeopardy as a result of the floods, even after the water had gone down, the damage cannot be immediately overcome, which may result in a surge of out-of- school children and absenteeism when schools finally open fully across various parts of the country.

A visit to 105 road, Efab Estate, Lokogoma FCT Abuja , one of the flood affected area in Nigeria, during a fieldwork sponsored by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) , revealed that some houses were left occupied on account of flooding in the area.

The Chairman, Efab Estate Landlord Association, Alhaji Shettima Gana Mohammed who spoke about how the massive rainfall in 2019 left a lot of home owners in the estate devasted by the flood.

” Massive flooding started in the estate way back in 2011-2012, but the most massive one came in 2019, where it brought down homes, fences , flush down roads and bridges, which is one of the major access road in and out the estate, but get flooded during the rainy season, a lot of victims in 105 roads and some certain sections of the estate were rendered homeless , many have to vacate their house totally, children can’t go to school , as the flood became a yearly thing”.

” There were deliberate efforts made by the association and all residents to fix the washed off roads and bridges, we wrote to the Government, the Ecological fund office in that 2019, they brought their escavator and operator for draining the canal , that is clearing the water-waves , that is the development control office” .

” They came sometimes in 2020, that some houses were built on flood drain and brought down those houses, but still the flood kept coming, that was in 2020 and we wonder where were they when those houses were built, who gave the approval, people bought houses in nice estates and later now, they are suffering from what they bought, we are in April now, soonest rain will start , people are worry as they don’t know what will happen to them and their property this year again, especially the truama impacts on children and their studies”.

“We have submitted our drawing and requests to the Ecological fund office as directed, it is in their data bank, but still no response, we have been trying to engage the government, this has to be Government’s effort, we call on the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to help us fast track our request and to see how they can channel the waterways in the flood place in Lokogoma, as it cut across about six or seven estates , by the time that one is done perfectly, we might not have any challenge again”.

In a interview with other residents of the Efab Estate, a 57-years-old business man, Mr. Fiade Olugbenga who is a landlord and also a victim of the flood, shared his experience and panic mood whenever the raining season was approaching.

” The 2019 flooding was an experience I don’t like to remember, around 7am in the morning, I parked my car inside the compound after dropping the kids in school, so I was inside sleeping due to the rain, so I heard a noise from the other house , help me! help me! I came out and saw that the water level in my own compound has risen, before I could say or do anything, the water has enter into the house, destroyed bedding, chairs, foodstuffs, enter the children’s room, infact it destroyed all the property inside the house”.

“The rain whenever it comes from like Nasarawa State axis , it passes through this estate , as the exist to the other side of the road, so the bottom line, is that the canal is narrow, and the agreement was to be a PPP thing, Public-Private Partnership, the Public is represented by Government, then private ,by the developers , we have not felt government presence here, and flooding issue is beyond what individual developer can do , we have taken steps, written to all the concerned offices , but nothing meaningful has been achieve yet”.

“We are still appealing to the government to come to our aid, the previous discussion we had with the Ecological fund office, we were asked to do the engineering design, so from the design the whole details was captured in it, it is about 4.5 kilometers and it cut across Lokogoma as a whole”.

“The truama is in the children already, whenever it raining we all carry ourselves in a car and drive to a safer place, no child can go to school that day, as soon as we hear the rain dropping on the roof, we will all be awake because you don’t know the intensity, it only when the rain stops, it has been a practice, the rain will start soon, we have to resume the practice of waking up odd hours, to move our families to a safer place, as we don’t have alternative, we bought this properties with our hard earn money, and no means or source of getting such money to get another place, Government should see to our plight , make us feel sense of being a Nigerian”.

 

Also, Mr. Michael Adeoja , a retiree said ” on that faithful day, thank God the children has gone to school, I was at home with my wife and a little boy of three years old, when we heard a sound , my compound fence and that of my neighbor’s fence collapsed, coming out to see, the whole place was filled up with water, no way to move out, me and my wife hanged on the burglary with the little boy on my neck for hours, it was a terrible experience, when the kids got back from school, we have to look for alternative of where to stay pending when the water subsided, children couldn’t go to school for days, we now became a refugees”.

In the same vein, Mr Segun Adewuyi , a 40- years- old resident of the estate said: ” I have being in the estate since 2009, it was like a mirage that morning, it was raining, but not that heavy, the next thing, I heard my security man shouting water ! water! , I rushed out , saw my car floating, before anything, the water has enter the living room, I cut the barbwire of the back fence , went through the overhead tank , to safe myself, my sister and her friend that was with us that day, same thing I did to safe other neighbors that were trapped as well”.

“A neighbour relative died then, because of the flood, it enter their house, and he was sleeping, the water wave was almost at the roof level and the brother was not around, it a terrible one, children in this estate are always awake whenever it raining, has nobody knows the next scenario , so everybody will start moving out for safety till the rain stops, which of course prevent the children from going to school that day”.

“Government should help us do a proper canal and a standard bridge for the water to flow , it is beyond what the residents can handle , because it involves like seven estates , we are all paying taxes, we need to enjoy the services “.

It becomes imperative that government begins to find ways to combat the flooding menace that continue to ravage the country, so as to to keep schools, roads, bridges, infrastructures, and properties free from floods, Government must treat this as matter of utmost importance, the long-term effects of students being out of school may become dire, the future of millions of school children depends on this.

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