Incidences of fire outbreaks have become a recurring phenomenon in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) facilities in Borno state, Nigeria. In 2019 alone, three fire outbreaks were recorded between February 7th to April 28th. In 2021, three more outbreaks were recorded, each one causing a death toll of more than 2 people.
Scaling Fire Outbreaks In Borno State IDP Camps From 2019 -2021
Over 34 fire outbreaks have been reported in IDP camps located majorly in Monguno local government area of Borno state, between 2019 to 2021(data is gotten from only publicized outbreaks. Fire outbreaks may be more).
A total of 20,120 shelters have been destroyed, and 53,040 individuals have lost their homes to fire outbreaks within the given period.
Casualties have also been recorded from these outbreaks. A total of 40 people have died in separate incidents between 2019 and 2021. A majority of the casualties are young children.
On the probable reason for the frequent fire outbreaks, local authorities have blamed cooking fires at the IDPs, which, spiralling out of control destroys shelters made primarily of wood.
Also, the general weather in northern Nigeria is hot and dry, which is made worse during the dry season. This makes it easy for small fires to spread faster.
Aminu Garba, a resident of the Fulatari camp in Monguno Local Government Area of Borno State, said the recent fire outbreak was caused by a cooking fire.
“The shelters are closely built and when a fire starts, it spreads quickly,” he told TwentyTen reporters.
The state government and other non-profit organizations are doing what they can to provide relief materials for affected people in the camps, but a lot more can be done in terms of improving safe living conditions for the people of these camps.
Can cooking areas be separated from the dwelling quarters? Absolutely. How about having a dedicated fire service or emergency service close to the camp? It would also be a good idea to have safety training for the IDPs to educate them on best practices to adopt while handling fire in the cooking areas and their living quarters.
The United Nations have also suggested decongesting the camps. Currently, most camps in Borno state host between 14,000 to 700,000 people.