The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has called for proactive communities’ involvement in mitigating flood disaster in the South-East as communities remained critical stakeholders in checking flood disasters and losses.
The Zonal Coordinator of NEMA South-East, Mrs Ngozi Echeazu, made the call while speaking with our correspondent in Enugu on Wednesday on proactive steps taken by the agency before now.
Our correspondent recalls that the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) have released the 2023 Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) and Annual Flood Outlook (AFO).
The agencies had given breakdown of high flood risk and moderate flood risk local government areas in the country as well as handed down warning of a possible high-level of flooding in the country.
Echeazu said that one of the major trusts of the Agency’s proactive measures was to work with communities in council areas to ensure that they keyed into the proactive measures already outlined in NEMA’s sensitisations.
According to her, there is a need for community members to work with the Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and state government taskforce on flood mitigation, to put proactive response work-plan.
She said, “It is imperative at this age and stage of our proactive approach to flood and other disaster management to strengthen community-based actions against flooding and other disasters.
“NEMA, through a series of meetings and sensitisation, which serves as proactive measures, has continued to build community education, capacity and resilience on flood mitigation efforts this year.
“These efforts included timely (proactive) opening of blocked waterways, removing structures/buildings on flood plains, expanding narrow waterways and organising periodic meetings at the community-level to discuss emergency plans and share responsibility among themselves.”
The coordinator said that before now, the agency had engaged in identification and update of information on communities prone to flood disaster in the zone.
She said that earlier this year, the agency had written to the state governments, informing them of the 2023 Seasonal Climate Prediction and Annual Flood Outlook by NiMET and NIHSA.
Echeazu said that since May, NEMA had engaged residents of the zone through mass media interviews and programmes on the importance of proactive approach and disaster risk reduction measures on flood incidents.
“These measures include building community capacity/resilience, opening blocked waterways, removing structures/buildings on flood plains, expanding narrow waterways, organising stakeholders meetings and early harvesting of crops.
“The agency has equally produced TV jingles which have been on air for some months and have produced/disseminated the climate-related disaster preparedness and mitigation strategies of 2023 via mass media,” the coordinator said.
She revealed that council areas with communities that are at high risk of flood disaster such as Ogbaru, Anambra West, Anambra East and Ayamelum among others in Anambra, had temporal camps (i.e. IDP camps) where the affected were kept until the flooding subsided.
“Once camps are activated due to flood, the local government authority (LEMC) state (SEMA), Federal Government (NEMA) and other relevant stakeholders step in to assist the displaced persons with provision of relief and non-relief materials, free medication, security, clean water, sanitation and hygiene.
“The emergency/exigency plan for the camps also involves evacuation plans for persons/communities adversely affected as well as coordination and management of activities in the camps.
“NEMA carries out this emergency plan with other relevant stakeholders which is aimed at timely/seamless intervention in the event of an emergency/disaster occurrence.
“Resources, logistics, teamwork and expertise are usually pulled together from the relevant stakeholders to ensure effective and efficient management of flood incidents and reduce its impact on the people,” she said.
Echeazu added that as part of NEMA’s preparedness, the agency had commenced stockpiling of relief materials (food and non-food materials) in NEMA warehouses to ensure timely intervention whenever and wherever the need arose.