The Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation — a thirty-four-member panel established by the Nigerian government in the wake of floods that have killed more than three hundred and sixty people since July and left millions homeless — has announced more than $22.1 million in recent contributions from two of the country's wealthiest businessmen to assist flood victims.
The latest commitments include $15.8 million (N2.5 billion) from Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Africa's richest man according to Forbes magazine and co-chair of the committee, and $6.3 million (N1 billion) from Visafone Telecommunications chair Jim Ovia. Dangote, who also contributed $950,000 for the running of the secretariat, pledged to hold the committee accountable for how the relief and recovery funds are distributed. To that end, the committee plans to post all donations made to the fund, along with brief descriptions of how the funds are being spent, on its Web site.
Earlier this month, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced that some $38 million (N6 billion) is needed to assist the two million people left homeless by flooding in Nigeria. Since that time, a number of charitable organizations and donors have pledged their support for relief efforts, which to date have provided nearly 260,000 displaced persons in seventeen camps with emergency supplies. However, UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said that with two-thirds of displaced Nigerians getting their drinking water from ponds, streams, or unprotected wells and approximately 70 percent lacking basic sanitation, the need for flood relief assistance continues to grow.
Businesses like Visafone continue to discuss how they might work to address this crisis and other future disasters. "We have made our humble donation and we are still looking at other areas of assistance we can render," said Ovia. "Plans are afoot towards setting up emergency call centers to mitigate the effect of future occurrence. Since [disasters such as this one happen naturally], we may not be able to stop [them,] but at [the very least we can] lessen the effect on both the people and our environment through timely action which the call centers can facilitate."