June 14, 2024

Brace up for flooding, NEMA reminds 11 Abia LGAs, sensitises stakeholders

Brace up for flooding, NEMA reminds 11 Abia LGAs, sensitises stakeholders

HOUSTON, TX – AUGUST 28: People are rescued from a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water, remnants of Hurricane Harvey, on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in areas of Texas over the next couple of days. /Getty Images/AFP

By Steve Oko, Umuahia

National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has again placed 11 out of 17 Local Government Areas in Abia State on the alert of pending flood disaster between July and September, 2024.

The affected LGAs which are under high and moderate flood risk areas include: Aba North, Aba South, Osisioma Ngwa, Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa East,Ukwa West, Umuahia North, Umuahia South, and Umunneochi.

This is as the agency has embarked on downscaling of flood early warning systems aimed at educating stakeholders and residents of the affected LGAs on proactive measures and early warning strategies for early actions.

The one-day sensitisation programme which was held at the Michael Okpara Auditorium Umuahia, was sequel to the rainfall and flood advisories contained in the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP); and Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency; and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), respectively.

NIHSA had predicted in the 2024 AFO that 31 States with 148 Local Government Areas would witness high flood risk, while 35 States including FCT with 249 LGAs were considered to fall within the moderate flood risk areas.

The remaining 377 LGAs were forecasted for the low flood risk areas, according to NIHSA.

Speaking during the sensitisation programme, Director General of NEMA, Zubaida Umar, said that the essence of the event was to arm the stakeholders with the necessary information about flooding prediction in their environment and prepare them for proactive measures to minimize the impact of flooding on the people.

Umar stressed that “management of disaster risk in contemporary times is everyone’s business”, and solicited the cooperation of communities.

He noted that the flood risk areas had already been presented with their degree of vulnerability “to serve as a tool for governments at all levels to develop risk reduction measures to avert disaster losses during this rainy season.”

The NEMA boss explained that the downscaling and sensitization of the 2024 flood early warning strategies for effective early actions, was to save lives and livelihoods during the rainy season.

According to him, the devastating impacts of flood over the years especially that of 2012 and 2022 have served as a wakeup call to all tiers of Governments to collaborate with the NEMA, to manage disaster risks and associated hazards.

“In the recent past, lives have been lost, means of livelihood and infrastructure amounting to billions of Naira have been destroyed, due to unmitigated incidences of floods”, he lamented.

He, therefore, urged stakeholders to initiate without delay, actions that would help minimize the impacts of flooding especially on the poor folks.

“All of us are expected to take actions that will drastically reduce the adverse impacts of floods on the entire landscape and the Nigerian population, especially for the most vulnerable persons living in communities identified to be at risk of flooding.”

“To safeguard our assets and cultural heritage against the impact of this year floods, NEMA, after a two-day Stakeholders’ Technical Meeting in April and Emergency Coordination Forum in May, 2024, which analysed disaster risk management implications of the forecasts, designed and incorporated direct risk communication and engagement approaches to disseminate early warning messages for early actions at the state, local government and community levels.”

The NEMA boss, commended the efforts of Abia State Government towards reducing the risk of flooding, and called for more collaboration with other tiers of Government and stakeholders.

Declaring the event open, Gov. Alex Otti, noted that 11 out of 17 LGAs in Abia, had been predicted to be under high and moderate flood risk areas.

Gov. Otti did not preclude the possibility of some LGAs outside the listed 11 being also affected by flooding.

The Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Environment, Mr Philemon Ogbonna, said that the essence of the sensitisation was to build citizens’ resilience and incorporate risk communication and engagement approaches to directly disseminate warning messages for early actions.

Otti said that the exercise was in line with his vision to rebuild infrastructure in the state to help reduce the risk of flooding.

He called for synergy among all the necessary stakeholders including community leaders to help reduce the chances of flooding.

Later in an interview, the Acting Director, Human Resource Manager, NEMA, Dr Martins Ejike, said that the programme was part of efforts to build disaster resilient communities.

” It’s about taking action; it’s about what to do to alleviate the sufferings of the people vis-a-vis the pending flood disaster. The people have to take proactive steps before it’s too late”.

Responding to a question, the former South East Zonal Director of NEMA refuted allegations that some zones were being marginalized in NEMA interventions.

“There is no discrimination against any zone. National level intervention takes time to plan. Intervention is a uniform exercise”, he said.

Traditional rulers, security agencies and other stakeholders participated in the exercise which featured teachings and interactive sessions.