In the latter half of 2012, Nigeria experienced its worst flooding in more than 40 years, and people are now rebuilding their lives with the support of the Red Cross.
Martha Ogwe, a 52 year old widow and mother of seven, lives in the village of Odogwu, in Kogi state. It is located close to the Niger River, and is in one of the areas of the country which was worst affected by the floods. When Martha saw the waters rising, she fled, travelling by boat with her neighbours to Idah, a town 10 kilometres from her home. “I was scared, as I cannot swim or paddle,” she said. Martha remained in Idah until the flood waters, which rose to over one metre, receded. She survived on rice given to her by local residents.
On her return to Odogwu in November, she found that her house had been severely damaged, and all her belongings swept away. “The mud walls had melted, and water had come through the entire house,” explained Martha. “What I regret most is that all of my childrens’ school certificates have been lost.”
The Red Cross is supporting 100 households whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged in three communities in Kogi state. Staff and volunteers have worked with the communities to identify households most in need of assistance, such as those that are chronically ill, physically challenged, widows, the aged, single parents and orphans.
In Martha’s village of Odogwu, local carpenters and masons have been recruited, and provided zinc sheets, timber, cement and tools, to help repair or rebuild 30 households. The wooden frames are set in cement foundations and lined with polythene, as a cost effective means of making the houses more resilient to flood waters in the future.
Now that the house frame for Martha’s new home has been completed, she will finish it to her liking. Her sons have already fetched bamboo to enable her to fill the walls, and soon she will be able to move in. “If the Red Cross had not helped me, I would be living the life of a beggar looking for a place to sleep. I am very happy with my new home,” said Martha. “The Red Cross has brought happiness back into my life.”
By David Fogden Red Cross reporting delegate, Odogwu, Kogi state, Nigeria