Posted by: africanpressorganization | 3 July 2013

Red Cross braces for flooding in Nigeria



Red Cross braces for flooding in Nigeria


GENEVA, Switzerland, July 3, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ When floods hit Nigeria in 2012, communities in several states were caught unprepared. It was the worst flooding the country had experienced in 40 years, affecting 7 million people. They simply did not know how to cope.


The Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS), with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has spent the past eight months working with communities to ensure they are better prepared should the 2013 rainy season result in the same kind of flooding.


“We have achieved a lot over the past nine months, helping families get back on their feet,” said Javier Barrera, IFRC country representative in Nigeria. “However, there is still work to do and people remain vulnerable as they have not fully recovered. With the 2013 rainy season now underway, the situation could quickly deteriorate.”


To keep that from happening, the Red Cross has pre-positioned emergency stocks in two warehouses to support 750 families. Staff and volunteers are working with communities to identify hazards and determine together how best to mitigate them. And 100 households in three communities in Kogi State are being assisted in the rebuilding of their homes.


“We are using construction techniques that are familiar to the local population, which means they will be able to maintain them,” said Nwakpa O. Nwakpa, NRCS spokesperson. “However, we have improved on these local techniques, and the end result will be housing that is stronger and more resilient to the forces of nature. We hope to be able to replicate these techniques in other states across the country.”


Last year’s flooding sent thousands of families running for the safety of higher ground. The Red Cross launched an appeal, and recently revised that appeal to support 50,000 people through the end of 2013. Aside from the provision of emergency relief items, 140 Red Cross volunteers were trained in health and hygiene promotion.


“Knowing the health hazards associated with flooding of this nature, we distributed more than 131,000 water purification tablets to improve households’ access to clean and safe drinking water in 10 states,” said Umar Abdu Mairiga, NRCS head of programmes.


“This was followed up with health and hygiene promotion messages to more than 22,000 people on a range of issues, including the prevention of malaria and diarrhoea, oral rehydration, maintenance of water sources and latrines, and the importance of hand washing,” said Dr Uche Ogba, NRCS head of health and care.


The Nigerian Red Cross Society, with its network of community-based volunteers, was the first to respond when the floods first took hold, and it will be the last to leave. Today, with the support of the IFRC, it remains the only humanitarian agency still in the field assisting those affected by the 2012 floods.



International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)


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