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Nigeria: Flood Relief

Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 8 November 2022

Nigeria is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, and it is experiencing the worst floods in a decade. The UK is providing support through the multi-donor Start fund, which has allocated £580,000 so far this rainy season. That funding is supporting 26,288 people affected by flooding. We will continue to help Nigeria make progress towards long-term climate change adaptation and resilience.

I welcome the Minister to his place. The floods in Nigeria have already left more than 1 million people displaced, 200,000 homes destroyed and, sadly, 600 people dead. In the wake of those floods, cholera cases are skyrocketing in some areas, due to a lack of access to clean water. Will the Minister assure me that the Government will be focusing aid to help ensure access to water and sanitation, and prevent the death toll from rising further?

I thank the hon. Lady for her comments and her question. Over the past five years, Britain has provided £425 million of humanitarian support, which has specifically reached more than 2 million people in north-east Nigeria, including individuals affected by the flooding. I give her a commitment that, working with Nigerian agencies, we will seek to strengthen flood risk management. Prior to COP26 we supported Nigeria’s national adaptation work to help cope with climate change.

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman to his Cabinet role. I know that he believes in the difference that international development can make, and I wish him well in persuading his Cabinet colleagues. Asylum applications are delayed by the thousands, spending on temporary hotels is soaring, and the Home Office is in turmoil. To bail it out, the Minister has seemingly written the Home Secretary a blank cheque out of Britain’s aid budget, spending £3.5 billion that is meant to be tackling the root causes of mass displacement. Since 2008, 41 people have been forced from their homes every minute by the climate crisis, and the floods in Nigeria, where 200,000 homes are under water, surely show that the climate emergency is here, it is now, and UK aid is needed more than ever. Will the Minister agree to carry out an urgent review of all Home Office official development assistance expenditure, and consider whether it is delivering value for taxpayers’ money? Will he please tell the House how long he is happy to let the Home Secretary have free rein over his budget to mop up a domestic crisis of her Department’s own making?

Please, it is questions. Other people have to get in as well. It is not just a Front-Bench show; this is for Back Benchers.

The hon. Lady, whom I thank for her generous remarks, did not really refer to Nigeria. In so far as the budget is being spent in Nigeria, I assure her that we are very focused on the effects of those floods. There are people now in category 5 starvation in north-east Nigeria, and I assure her that we will do everything we can to help them.

I, too, welcome the Ministers to their place, and I look forward to working constructively with them. I am glad that aid is going to the dreadful situation in Nigeria, but surely that illustrates the wider point that we cannot do more with less. Surely now is time to reinstate the 0.7% aid allocation, because these events will increase going forward.

The hon. Gentleman makes a lot of sense, and he knows where I stand on these matters. Fortunately, collective responsibility is not retrospective, and I assure him that we are focused on the issues he has raised. I hope very much that when we have the autumn statement next week, there will be encouraging news.