Barely three weeks after the perennial flooding in the eight local government areas of Anambra State began to recede, communities in Ogbaru Local Government Area have been on the edge following the post flood crisis which has greeted the area. OKEY MADUFORO visited the areas and reports.
The bus stopped at Ochuche community in Ogbaru Local Government Area and this reporter got down to behold the vestiges of the harm done to the eighteen communities that made up the local government area. The farmlands cut the pictures of an oil spillage in the Niger Delta, creating deep gullies which literally represents the harvested food crops planted by natives in the area.
At Umunankwo , Ossamala Aminyi communities, the villagers now live at the mercy of providence as relatives residing at Okpoko and Onitsha send food items and medicaments to their kit and kins in the villages. But the people of Umunankwo appears to be at the receiving end following the collapse of the adjoining bridge during the flooding and they don’t have access to any form of assistance. While Umunankwo seem to have a kind of reprieve at some point, the people of Umuzu community have been abandoned to their fate since the commencement of the flooding.
Recall that Umuzu community had reported cases of cholera epidemic during the flooding and no government agency or functionary has visited them. Similarly Umuzu had a case of about two hundred families that were missing during the flooding and they spent over two weeks before they were found on the last floor of a two storey building.
They had little or nothing to feed on or take care of themselves. Even as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), had published the list of communities to benefit from the post flood arrangement for relief materials and palliatives. So far a total of 61,070 persons who were displaced and affected were captured in the said list but non of the displaced persons were captured in the list. According to the list made available by the two bodies only seven LGAs were shortlisted out of the eight council areas and Umuzu community was not included.
The Coordinator, Umuzu Flood Committee and Coordinator Children of Farmers Club Prince Chris Okwuosa said: “We have made representations before the state government and the relevant agencies involved and even during the flood , no medical team visited Umuzu as was promised by the Commissioner for Health as well as the Chairman Ogbaru Local Government Area.
“This is a community that had over two hundred families missing and exposed to cholera epidemic and the authorities did not find it proper to include Umuzu.” In letter to the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Onyekachukwu Ibezim, the community demanded for items which include; “Provision of fishing gear and other tools to victims’ households, Creating a value chain which will off take harvested fish from them for further processing. “Appointment of coordinators to oversee these activities in the affected Communities and council areas.
“The Children of Farmers Club with her wide range of experience in coordination of various agricultural related empowerment activities in rural communities as well as having facilities for fish processing is best suited to coordinate these activities across the state. “Your Excellency may wish to approve the provision of the following for distribution to Two Thousand Households in the flood affected communities; “1,000 roll/bundles of fishing, One operational vehicle for distribution across affected communities as well as logistics for distribution and funds as take- off grant to CFC as for off take activities.”
He continued: “Today we have flooding that is more damaging than the one of 2012 because it appears to be happening every ten years. “The few yams and cassava which we harvested from the farm were lost to the flood because before we could get a bigger boat to evacuate the crops, the flood has washed them away.
“We had about three bags of yam tubbers and four bags of cassava and the plan was to at least manage those food items while the flood lasts but all belong to the flood infront of you now. “We thank God that we only recorded one death of a woman who went to the flooded farms to harvest yam only to get drowned in the flood. “But there is so much hunger now and the people trapped in the flood don’t have access to drinking water, so we boil water and through canoes we transport water to them as well as food items.” Similarly the President General of Akili Ogidi community in Ogbaru Local Government Area, Comrade Chukwusa Micheal, has raised alarm over the menace of miscreants that have been visiting homes of people who fled from the flood to loot their properties. He said: “Yes during the last flood , criminals came to our homes when the flood was going down to loot our property and that is why they stayed back to protect whatever property that survived the flood.
“But while we are protecting our homes the challenges of food and health are before us today and no one cares about us but during elections they will always find their way to Umuzu to campaign.” Anambra Deputy Governor and Chairman, Flood Management Committee, Dr Onyekachukwu Ibezim told this reporter that the post flood management activities have commenced through the enumeration of the affected areas and identification of their needs .
He said: “We have concluded arrangements for the fumigation of those houses which were submerged by the flood due to the possibility of reptiles attacking the people and we had meetings at Abuja and it was fruitful because a lot was discussed and actions taken.”
Ibezim noted that the list of communities captured so far “is not a finality because we know that there others that are yet to be captured but we shall include them and we appeal to our people to be patient because our governor, Charles Soludo, has promised that he will not leave any community in ensuring that our people are given what they deserve.”