Communities in the Niger Delta have been faced with annual climate change induced floods
since 2012. The floods have led to the loss of lives, displacement of residents, destruction of
homes, and disruption of livelihoods. Unfortunately, governments at the national and sub
national levels have not been responsive in developing effective adaptation and mitigation
strategies to reduce adverse impacts occasioned by the floods; practically leaving affected
communities to their fates.
In anticipation of the impending floods in 2023,We the People organized a Conference with the
theme‘Fostering Strategic Response to the 2023 Floods’, aimed at engaging all relevant
stakeholders towards producing a flood response strategy that anticipates the dangers, and
provides for the shelter, health and overall wellbeing of communities in the short and long term.
The Conference which held on the 13th of July 2023 and was attended by government officials,
impacted communities, civil society organizations and the media produced the following
Communique Issued at the end of Conference themed ‘Fostering Strategic Response to the
2023 Floods’ held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on the 13th of July, 2023.
On July 13, 2023, We the People organized a Conference to engage frontline communities, civil
society organizations, academics, traditional rulers and individuals drawn from the Niger Delta
states of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers in Yenagoa, to discuss the ecological issue of flooding that
has become an annual occurrence in several Niger Delta communities.
The meeting was organized in anticipation of the impending floods in 2023 and in recognition of
the imperative to engage all relevant stakeholders towards producing a flood response strategy
that anticipates the dangers, and provides for the shelter, health and overall wellbeing of
communities in the short and long term. The primary aim of the Conference was to develop
strategic responses that can effectively mitigate the many negative social, health and economic
impacts of flooding and bolster community resilience and adaptation strategies.
In the course of the deliberations, the Conference responded to a range of strategic questions
including, how the government can improve early response systems and evacuation plans to
ensure reduced loss of lives and property, what measures can be adopted to enhance adaptation
and promote sustainable post-flood recovery, and what policy frameworks can be put in place to
support communities in adaptation and management of future floods occurrences.
Among others, Conference notes the following;
o That since 2012, flooding has become a frequent occurrence in Nigeria, especially in the Niger
Delta, resulting in significant damage to communities, infrastructure, lives and properties.
o That in 2022, the Nigeria experienced the most devastating flood in its history. The floods
impacted all 36 states and the Federal Capital, resulting in the death of over 662 persons as well
as displacements, destruction of homes, and disruption of livelihoods. These impacts were mostly
felt by Niger Delta communities who have to live with the floods for longer periods.
o That the floods are a critical consequences of climate change having far-reaching implications for
environmental sustainability and the socio-economic well-being of the people.
o That governments at the national and sub national levels have not been responsive in developing
effective adaptation and mitigation strategies to reduce the adverse impacts occasioned by the
floods; practically leaving affected communities to their fates.
In more specific terms, the Conference noted that the floods have resulted in the following
critical impacts on frontline communities in the Niger Delta;
- Loss of lives
- Destruction of infrastructure
- Health hazards
- Conflict and Migration
- Widespread poverty
- Loss of Property
- Destruction of crops and farming systems
- Loss of homes
The Conference also noted;
That efforts by the National Emergency Management Agency and the State Emergency Management Agency in states of the Niger Delta have been limited to providing early warnings without much action in terms of supporting community before, during and after the floods. Relief efforts have mostly been ‘knee jerk’ responses that are only implemented when the floods have hit unprepared communities.
That the responses of state actors are often uncoordinated, late and inefficient, and therefore
resulting in minimal impacts on affected communities. In several instances, government humanitarian efforts have been accused of being embroiled in corruption and elite capture.
That the relevant agencies of the federal government including NIMET have again announced
that 2023 will witness widespread floods which will seriously affect several Niger Delta communities. These warning have only contained requests for communities to move to higher grounds, without any commensurate effort in providing the needed support to do this.
Based on the above observations, participants at the Conference endorsed and adopted the
- That states of the region should immediately produce detailed plans to respond to the threats of
flooding. These plans should contain strategies for supporting community resilience, relocating
communities, addressing health concerns, providing for the social and economic needs of affected
people and supporting their post flood recovery.
- Understanding that the floods are an irreversible outcome of the escalating global climate change
crisis, governments of the Niger Delta states should establish processes for assessing and
documenting the losses and damages at the individual and public level, occasioned by the floods,
towards engaging emerging climate change compensation processes.
- Governments should support communities whose farming systems have been disrupted on
account of the floods, towards ensuring that they adapt adequately to the emerging food
sustainability realities. These should include strategies to support communities to adopt new and
improved agricultural methods.
- Existing systems for administering flood related humanitarian relief is faulty and prone to
corruption. The government should re-calibrate these systems by adopting multi-stakeholder
approaches that allows widespread participation and collaborative planning with all stakeholders
(including communities) in a transparent, accountable and efficient manner.