Mustapha Habib Ahmed, Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), has urged the 36 state governors to take proactive action to mitigate the effects of the impending floods
Ahmed made the call in his comments at Nigeria’s Governor’s Forum conference which was held on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the DG of NEMA said, “I humbly seek the cooperation of the Executive Governors for preparedness for the 2023 flooding season…we seek to collaborate with NGF to establish a robust monitoring and evaluation framework which will enable NEMA and the NGF to track progress, assess the effectiveness of flood preparedness initiatives, and identify areas for improvement. Regular feedback and joint evaluation exercises will support evidence-based decision-making and promote accountability in disaster management efforts.”
Continuing, the NEMA boss referenced the country’s triple response structure for disaster and emergency management. “As we know disasters are local and to enhance our disaster management capabilities, it is imperative that State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) are fully operationalised and Local Management Committees (LMCs) are activated. These bodies will play a crucial role in ensuring effective disaster response at the state and local levels.”
Highlighting ongoing proactive efforts by NEMA to mitigate disasters in the country, the DG told the governors that the Federal Government, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has developed a National Plan of Action for the implementation of disaster risk reduction, known as the Sendai Framework (2015-2030).
NEMA has taken steps to align its national policies and strategies with the Sendai Framework by developing the National Disaster Risk Reduction Policy and National Disaster Risk Management Framework, which provide guidance for implementing risk reduction measures at the national, state, and local levels. These initiatives emphasise and highlight the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration and community participation in disaster risk management.
The DG seized the opportunity of the conference to highlight NEMA’s milestones since its creation, especially in the past decade when the country had been beset with numerous significant disasters, including major floods, droughts, and outbreaks of diseases all of which have led to considerable loss of life, extensive damage to infrastructure, and substantial economic costs. These disasters, he noted, underline the imperative of proactively addressing the issue of flood preparedness.
The DG of NEMA noted that the nation was hit in 2022 with the worst floods in the history of Nigeria. The impact was widespread and affected 29 of the country’s 36 states, damaged homes, and infrastructure, destroyed farmlands, and displaced people from their communities.
Figures from The Nigerian Red Cross confirmed that at least 2.8 million people were affected, with 603 fatalities and more than 2,500 injured.
Ahmed noted that partnership with the state governors will provide a platform for facilitating the sharing of “best practices and lessons learned among the states. We can facilitate discussions, workshops, and peer-to-peer learning sessions where states can share their successful initiatives in disaster risk reduction and resilience. This knowledge exchange will help expedite the adoption of effective strategies across the country”.
Based on insights from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) who released their 2023 Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) and Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) respectively, NEMA has begun the “downscaling of disaster early warning measures to grassroots for effective live-saving early actions during the 2023 rainy season” across different states of the federation for capacity building efforts as well as funding and provision of equipment to upskill Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs) to equip them and make them ready to “take disaster risk management to the communities to build safe and resilient communities and by extension a safer and resilient Nigeria.”
In relation to the funding matter, the Director-General (DG) of NEMA highlighted that there are existing provisions for interventions by subnational level actors. The DG stated that each state and local government receives an allocation from the Ecological fund, which NEMA also receives. Consequently, there should be available funding to address disaster-related situations.