Nigeria should be prioritized for climate fund at COP28 – IRC

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The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has called for fragile and conflict-affected countries like Nigeria to be placed at the forefront of the climate agenda ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC – COP28) taking place 30 November until 12 December 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  

The IRC revealed that a sharp increase in diseases, including cholera, caused grave concern among humanitarian organizations as a direct result of devastating flooding in Nigeria in 2022 even as it led to damage to infrastructure and that 31 of the 36 states across Nigeria recorded 23,550 suspected cases of cholera, with Borno state alone recording 12,000 cases.

According to the IRC, since the beginning of July this year, the government has issued flood alerts in several localities across the states of Kano, Borno, Adamawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Delta, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Plateau, Jigawa, Kwara, and Niger State.

With COP28 approaching, the IRC is calling for Nigeria to be one of the countries prioritized in the global climate agenda, with concrete commitments to unlock more funding for adaptation and climate resilience. IRC also urges the expansion of partnerships with local civil society groups and investments in innovations like anticipatory action to prevent the climate crisis from becoming a catastrophe.

As part of its response to the crisis affecting populations in Nigeria, the IRC has piloted an anticipatory cash program in the northeast of the country. Using information from government meteorological agencies that it partnered with to predict a generational flood, the IRC research teams compared the effects of providing cash transfers to households ahead of a climate shock, instead of the typical post-shock response. The evidence clearly showed that families receiving cash days before the disaster were less likely to go hungry and more likely to take pre-emptive action. This approach can mitigate the impact of climate hazards in the short term and improve resilience in the long term.

Babatunde Anthony Ojei, IRC Country Director for Nigeria, said,  

“Last season’s floods in Nigeria had disastrous effects, including the loss of at least 600 lives and the forced displacement of more than 1.5 million individuals across several states. In IRC clinics in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states alone, almost 35,000 children were recorded as patients having contracted waterborne illnesses due to the floods, increasing their susceptibility to further illness.  

“The disruption to the agricultural calendar, including the planting of seeds or harvesting, and the potential destruction of fields due to rising waters, is equally alarming as it will impact the food supply to the population. Already, nearly 25 million Nigerians are likely to go hungry by August of this year; malnutrition levels in northeast and northwest Nigeria continue at higher levels than this time last year or the previous four years, with nearly 2 million people receiving humanitarian food assistance in April 2023. The risk of further disruption to education services must also be taken into account, especially given that Nigeria already ranks as one of the highest in the world for out-of-school children.”

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