According to the Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), flooding led to 68 deaths in the country in 2020 and “affected” 129,000 persons. Elsewhere in Africa, the UN Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) informed that more than 1,000,000 South Sudanese were affected by flooding between July and November 2020. Entire communities were submerged, leading to displacement of people from their homes. The flooding was caused by heavy and persistent rainfalls that led to the overflowing of the banks of River Nile and other water bodies in the country.
The year 2019, was one of extreme weather events across the world. Sweltering heat hit much of the world. Raging wildfires were recorded in Brazil, Bolivia, Australia and the United States of America. Massive floods ravaged even cities like Venice, famed to be able to handle floods.
Climate change was implicated in exposing over 33 million Africans (spread across Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya) to food insecurity emergencies. The food situation has been compounded by the erosion of food sovereignty due to the loss of biodiversity. Violent conflicts and poverty add another dimension to the dire situation and raises the number of those vulnerable to over 52 million.
Southern Africa warmed at two times the global rate and experienced two massive cyclones in March and April leading to a loss of over 1000 lives. Having two cyclones in one season was a record. The intensity and upward reach of the cyclones on the South Eastern coastline also broke the records. Cyclones Idai and Kenneth impacted close to 3 million persons. Some researchers tie the cyclones to the warming of the Indian Ocean. If this is true, we can expect more cyclones as well as the devastation of marine ecosystems in the region.
Floods have the potential to cause overflow of sewage systems in cities and thereby spread disease and reduce the capacity of citizens to withstand the COVID-19. Power cuts due to flooding can equally reduce the capacity for healthcare delivery – by impeding preservation of essential drugs and running of equipment. The quality of housing stock in poorer communities led to the collapse of such buildings by floods, thus compounding the problems of displaced persons who had no home to return to once the floods receded.
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