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Cablegate: Nigeria: Disaster Declaration

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002259

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: DISASTER DECLARATION

1. Niact Immediate precedence required because of urgent
humanitarian crisis. Notification to USAID/OFDA and STATE/AF
duty officers requested. Niact immediate precedence
authorized by CDA Andrews.


2. The Charge d'Affaires, after consulting with the
Ambassador, has declared a natural disaster in Nigeria
because of extensive flooding caused by torrential rainfall
and overflowing of the Tiga and Challawa reservoirs in
northern Nigeria from August 26 through September 6, 2001.
The areas most affected lie within the Hadejia and Jama,are
river basins in Kano and Jigawa States. Mission requests
authorization to apply $25,000 of the Ambassador's emergency
funds to this crisis, specifically to assist the Nigerian Red
Cross Society (NRCS) to provide food and non- food relief to
the victims.


3. It will be necessary to provide the victims with a one-
month food ration, household utensils and non-food items,
like blankets, mats, plastic buckets and clothing, lanterns
and mosquito nets, transport and ancillary costs. Assistance
will be channeled through the International Federation of the
Red Cross, which will then work with NRCS to deliver
assistance.


4. Health education and potable water will also be needed to
prevent outbreak of cholera and other water-borne diseases.
It is hoped that some of the displaced victims will be able
to go back to their villages after the recession of the
floodwater.


5. The Governor of Kano State requested assistance from USG
officials in a meeting held in his office in Kano. The joint
State/USAID assessment team visited five local government
areas and five villages in Kano and Jigawa States. Based on
their assessment and the report from NRCS, it is apparent
that the damage is severe, and the host government is unable
to respond adequately.


6. The NRCS has concluded an initial assessment and has
submitted a proposal to USAID. The NCRS proposal is for
$637,636 worth of commodities, but NCRS reports that much
more assistance, especially food and blankets, will be
needed. While officials at the state and local government
levels are trying to respond to the crisis, the reaction of
Federal government and other international donor agencies has
been slow. Members of the affected communities and some
business organizations have donated funds to assist the
victims.


7. Estimates of the number of deaths, persons displaced,
damage to crops, and villages have been provided by the NRCS,
and the Jigawa and Kano State governments. The latest
estimate of the number of deaths and displaced persons in
Kano state is 137 deaths and over 1,500,000 persons displaced
as a result of the disaster. These are preliminary
estimates. Based on the NRCS assessment, 180 deaths and
95,000 persons were displaced in Jigawa state. These numbers
will surely increase as all villages are assessed in coming
weeks. Jigawa State has been cut in half by the flooding,
and huge areas are inaccessible by the means available to
local authorities and NGOs.


8. The NRCS confirms that the current major and urgent needs
are: food, blankets, sanitation, lanterns, drinking water and
malaria prophylaxis drugs to the over 1,500,000 displaced
people currently taking refuge in primary schools and other
public buildings across the two states. The combined efforts
of the local and state governments including NRCS have so far
fallen far short of the needs of the victims in the refugee
camps. The NRCS have so far mobilized 60 volunteers for
search and rescue mission, and distributed 72 bags of rice,
20 bags of beans, 16 bags of millet and 20 kgs of vegetable
oil in two of the affected local governments.


9. The Mission further recommends that OFDA immediately
deploy an assessment team to thoroughly assess the situation
with a view to providing additional disaster assistance to
the victims. Jigawa and Kano State governments plan to
relocate many of the villages, which will be a lengthy
process. Most of those affected by the flooding are
subsistence farmers. Besides the loss of dwellings, food and
clothing, there has been extensive crop loss throughout the
region. Most of the victims will require sustained food and
economic aid over the next 18 months until next year's
harvest. The rainy season in northern Nigeria is nearing its
end, but rains remain heavy. Other areas in the lowlands of
Jigawa, Bauchi and Yobe states will suffer as the floodwaters
move eastward towards Lake Chad. In a separate message, the
Mission will request authority for the use of operational
time of Operation Focus Relief helicopters to assist with
disaster assessment and aid-delivery.


10. Providing assistance is in the interest of the U.S.
government. Northern Nigeria has suffered intermittent
ethnic and religious violence. As this cable is being
readied for transmission, the city of Jos appears to be
emerging from a spasm of inter-religious violence. The U.S.
can demonstrate its impartial concern for people of all
faiths by responding to this emergency in predominantly
Muslim Kano and Jigawa States. This disaster has resulted in
a large number of displaced persons who, if not properly
assisted, will likely migrate to urban areas in large
numbers, thereby increasing tensions in Kano, Kaduna and
elsewhere.
Andrews

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