Impacts of flood disasters in Nigeria: a critical evaluation of health implications and management
Olanrewaju, Caroline C.
Olanrewaju, Oludolapo A.
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Floods lead to tremendous losses of property, infrastructure, business and increased risk of diseases. Floods are also the most frequent natural disasters, affecting over 2.8 billion people in the world and causing over 200 000 deaths over the past three decades. The World Health Organization categorised the 2012 flood disaster in Nigeria as the worst flood to have hit the country in the past 50 years. This study reviews flood disasters in Nigeria and how they have been managed over the past two decades. The extensive review of the literature is complemented by data obtained from Ajegunle, a community in Ajeromi–Ifelodun Local Government Area. Because of its proximity to water bodies, its large population and its small land mass, the Ajegunle community is highly susceptible to floods and outbreaks of waterborne diseases. The study also discusses the institutionalisation and development of disaster management in Nigeria. Further, it critically evaluates the disaster management framework and other current disaster management policies as well as the effectiveness and functions of the disaster management focus areas and government response. The study takes a historic approach to flood disasters, linking disaster management to human health with a special focus on flood-related infectious diseases, isolating waterborne diseases as being predominant. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected to develop an understanding of how the people of Ajegunle are affected by flood disasters. This study reveals poorly managed health reforms and argues that in spite of government’s disaster management policies, there is an absence of organised and coordinated institutional structures to plan and respond to flood emergencies. It also revealed that diarrhoea outbreak was the predominant waterborne disease associated with flood disasters. Although Lagos State has been said to have the best flood preparedness plan in Nigeria, it has failed to reduce the yearly flood disasters and their impact on the health of the people. The article suggests a holistic approach by the government to get stakeholders, especially the health sector, more actively involved in disaster management planning.