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‘Everyone has to work so the family can survive’: floods in Nigeria force children out of

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Just before the heavy rains began, most schoolchildren were about to start the new term. Jonah Ovat’s three teenage sons were excited about going back to their secondary school in Obubra. Here in Cross River state, as in other parts of Nigeria, the rains that began in August brought large-scale flooding.

The country’s two major rivers burst their banks and a national disaster was declared in four other states as floodwater drowned farms and destroyed crops worth millions of naira in Obubra.

Now that the rains have subsided, Ovat, 55, was among the farmers whose land and crops were saturated. The family is attempting to rebuild but what has gone for ever, he says, is the boys’ schooldays.

“There’s no more education for the boys because the time they should have spent in class they now use that time to work,” says Ovat. His sons have been labouring on a housing construction site since the start of September. “We don’t have a source of livelihood any more and that’s why everyone, including the children, has to work so that the family can survive.”

The flooding has…

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