Nigeria Floods 2022: Impact on The Vulnerable Majority

With two million persons affected, 200,000 homes destroyed, and over 600 persons dead, Nigeria is currently experiencing its most catastrophic flooding in 10 years. This didn’t happen without warnings from the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency as they had predicted more floods in 2022 than last year due to excessive rainfalls and contributions from external flows such as the dam in Cameroon.

The social implications of the flooding come with much more casualties than meets the eye with Nigerian women as the biggest losers in most sectors. Financially Nigerian women are at the bottom of the earning pool. More than 50% of women in Nigeria are non-professional workers and heavily dependent on their menial jobs and farming is one of the highest generators of income. Nigerian women contribute to over 70% of food production in the country with farming and animal husbandry as their source of livelihood. Currently, more than 200,000 hectares of farming land in northeastern Nigeria have been submerged by the flood and the implications of this on women’s financial empowerment are disastrous.

In the health sector, Nigeria is lagging dangerously behind in women’s health care, especially in the northern and middle-belt states which are already ravaged by terrorism. Plagued with inadequate resources and proper facilities to handle any crisis, the country is about to experience a terrible spike in maternal mortality rates, and maternal malnutrition as women with no access to quality healthcare are losing total access to healthcare services due to the flooding.

There are 20 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, 60% of whom are girls. Before the flooding, these young girls stood no academic chance as they were affected by early marriages, child labor, and sociocultural beliefs. These girls are among the vulnerable majority susceptible to sexual violence and can be required to engage in transactional sex as a financial coping strategy in times of crisis. Academically, it would be even more difficult to catch up to their mates who are already ahead educationally but would still suffer the aftermath of the flood as academic activities have been brought to hold.

The consequence of the Governments inability to heed warnings and mitigate the effects of this disaster means that over a decade of women’s development and empowerment would be lost. Women and children would be set back in immeasurable ways that would stunt their Socioeconomic, Health, Welfare, and Academic growth affecting them in the coming years.

This is a crucial time for the government to realize the need for gender-sensitive budgeting. As budget policies should be made to fit specific needs that would not only help these women to recoup their business losses but ensure that emergency preparedness and response agencies are cognizant of the gravity of maternal care and Increased sexual and gender-based violence as a result of the humanitarian crisis.

The role of international organizations in such situations cannot be overemphasized, as they have access to proper data and resources to raise the necessary awareness that would help prevent further decline in sectors that affect women’s development in Nigeria.