Naomi Gabriel —
Stakeholders from the North-East region in Nigeria have expressed readiness to combat predicted incidents of flooding as the year gradually begins its last lap. Dr Abubakar Gabarin, Head of Operations, Bauchi State Emergency Management Agency (BASEMA), said the agency had made reservation of relief materials and trained staff on emergency preparedness and response.
Gabarin said BASEMA had also updated its contingency plans for the 2021 flood season.
“To prepare for the 2021 flood season, we developed cross functional competences and capabilities training of staff on a range of emergencies.
“This includes emergency preparedness and response plan on how to minimise amount of time and efforts in response to threat, by providing intelligence and accurate information.
“It also embraces coordination and collaboration with partners to proffer solutions on recurrence of annual flooding,” he said.
Gabarin said the state government had set up a special committee to provide initial relief materials and inspect affected areas to ascertain extent of damage with a view to assist victims.
He said the agency conducted sensitisation activities to create awareness on dangers of flooding to avert future occurrences.
According to Gabarin, the agency is working in collaboration with development partners including the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and Ministry of Health to create awareness on outbreak of diseases associated with flood disaster.
Malam Abdullahi Manu, a resident of Kirfi in Kirfi Local Government Area of the state, called for proactive measures to protect the community from incessant flooding.
“The flood we experienced this year has destroyed hundreds of houses and farmlands in the area.
“Government should sensitise the people to avoid building structures on waterways to prevent flooding,” Manu said.
In its bid to ensure effective response to flood disaster, the Borno State Government had constituted a high powered committee to identify flood prone areas.
Mr Abubakar Suleiman, General Manager, Borno State Environmental Protection Agency, said the measure was imperative to contain the perennial flooding in major towns across the state.
Suleiman said the agency, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had conducted desilting exercise to clear drains, ease flow of water and control flooding in Maiduguri metropolis and other major towns.
The manager warned residents against indiscriminate dumping of waste and erection of structures on water ways.
Also speaking, Mr Mannir Gidado, Head of Planning, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), North East Zonal Office, said the agency had provided equipment for effective disaster and emergency response services.
According to Gidado, NEMA’s Search and Rescue Unit is engaged in training of groups like youth corps members on basic Disaster Management, Detection and Rapid Response.
Similarly, the Yobe State Government said it had embarked on resettlement of communities in flood prone communities to areas of higher altitude to mitigate the effects of the disaster caused by rainfall.
Dr Muhammed Goje, Executive Secretary, Yobe State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), says Gov. Mai Mala Buni has directed immediate evacuation of downstream communities to a safer location.
“First, we started the evacuation exercise from Potiskum Local Government Area; we gave the affected households money to rent houses for three months within their own neighborhood.
“We have reached about 49 per cent of the affected houses so far with different types of support which include food and non – food items, building materials, etc,” Goje said.
He noted that prior to the rainy season, the governor directed the Agency to initiate flood mitigating strategies based on prediction by the NiMet.
“We called on the relevant stakeholders and identified the high risk and low risk areas.
“We linked up with other MDAs for clearing the waterways and moved some communities away from the high risk areas to safer locations.
“We also restocked our warehouses with food items and basic shelter kits in case of flooding because most of the victims are low income earners who go out daily to get what they will eat.
“So, in the event of flooding, some of them can hardly go out and work to feed their families,” Goje said.
He said that about 3,180 households in 25 communities in 12 local government areas were affected by flood disaster in the state.
According to Goje, the state government is working closely with NEMA to enhance preparedness and response to flood disaster.
In Jigawa, the state government has began 100 kilometres grass clearance exercise on River Hadejia to check perennial flooding.
Alhaji Hamza Muhammad, Chairman, Jigawa State Flood Control Committee, said the exercise was being implemented by the Federal and Jigawa Governments.
Muhammad said the state government had also erected embankments in 10 local government areas to prevent recurrent flooding.
He listed the flood prone areas to include Ringim, Taura, Jahun, Miga, Kaugama, Kafin-Hausa, Auyo, Mallammadori, Hadejia and Guri.
While the clearance of the typha grass would ensure free flow water, the erection of embankments along riverine areas would prevent water from destroying houses and farmlands.
Muhammad added that critical stakeholders were also educated and sensitised with a view to strengthening disaster preparedness on flood awareness and community sensitisation.
He said the affected communities were also sensitised on their expected roles in disaster preparedness and mitigation.
“Stakeholders were also urged to double their efforts and commitment to make their communities resilient to disasters.
“Disasters, as we are all aware, can wipe out our developmental gains attained over the years within the twinkle of an eye.
“Now more than ever before, we must double our effort and commitment to reduce vulnerability among our communities thereby making resilience to disaster possible.
“Flooding, as the most prevalent disaster is a recurring environmental disaster across Nigeria on yearly basis, this indeed is a clear indication that flooding is inevitable.
“The most important thing is taking a drastic action towards reducing the impact of such disaster as an integral part of disaster management.
“This is because disaster management is a business for all households, communities, local, state and the Federal Government.
“It is in consideration of the foregoing that the committee deemed it necessary to sensitize stakeholders and communities on disaster preparedness across the state.
“This will be a veritable tool towards proactive and effective response to disasters,” the chairman said.
Muhammad advised stakeholders to take advantage of the sensitisation in guiding actions that would mitigate the negative impacts of flooding.
Furthermore, the Gombe State Government had released N83 million for waste clearance and desilting exercise to control flooding in Gombe metropolis and other major towns.
The government also released N361 million for construction of 180 waste collection sites to discourage indiscriminate dumping of waste on water ways.
Mr Samaila Bima, Coordinator, Jewel Environmental Initiative, an NGO, lauded the gesture, describing it as a necessary step to avert flooding predicted by NiMet.
Bima said he was part of the team that went round the state and identified flood prone areas, adding that the existing waste collection sites were evacuated in the metropolis.
He urged residents of Gombe to desist from indiscriminate dumping and use the designated waste collection to control flooding in the state.