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Seasonal rainfall: NEMA, UNICEF, others review flood response profile

Flooded streets of Benin City
Flooded streets of Benin City
As the nation awaits this year’s seasonal rainfall prediction (SRP), from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, (NiMET), and the Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), by the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), stakeholders have gathered to appraise last year’s flood response profile in order to ensure a hitch-free season this year.
According to a statement release by the agency’s senior information officer, Sani Datti, the review of last year’s flood prediction and response is aimed at determining what was done right last year and devising ways to improve on it in the 2016 flooding season.
The three-day forum was held at the weekend in Akwanga, Nasarawa State. Officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, NiMET, NIHSA and the state emergency management agencies, SEMAs, fashioned out a fresh early warning and early action mechanism for the nation. Both the SRP and AFO are analysed to make forecast for flood early warning, early dissemination and action to flood-prone regions and high risk states in the country.
The SRP, specifically, gives early warnings to reduce the risk associated with the nation’s two extremes of flood and dry spells.
Director General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani Sidi, underscored the need to embark on flood prevention and mitigation measures that would ensure free-flowing drainage systems, operation and maintenance of hydraulic structures such as dams and reservoirs which are being adequately controlled by the various dam management institutions in the country.
Sidi, represented by the deputy director (Planning, Research Forecasting) of NEMA, Kayode Fagbemi, said: “This is yet another occasion for dialogue and indepth deliberation geared towards improving flood early warning and early action mechanism in Nigeria. “With the backdrop of the 2012 unprecedented flood that caused widespread devastation in several states of the country, we can no longer wait until we witness another catastrophe.” He described the event as an informed stakeholders’ forum designed to “review our progresses, the challenges we face and come up with a wise decision as a way forward.
“I would like to note that we need to invest more in disaster risk reduction and gather evidence to enable well-informed decisions to reduce disaster and climate risk as a central element of sustainable development. “We also need to recognise the need to work together to achieve the set goals.” UNICEF country representative in Nigeria, Ms. Jean Gough, recalled that following the 2015 SRP by NiMET, UNICEF was part of the committee and also part of the team that supported the Flood Contingency Plan for 2015 for all flood high risk states in the country. At the forum, participants made observations on issues bordering on timely and effective forecast/ prediction, hydrological data gaps, inadequate meteorological data, inadequate dissemination of information, vandalism of equipment, reduction of instruments’ sensitivity to measurement, inadequate coverage of density of hydro-met network of station and untimely release of operational funds by state governments to SEMAs during response activities.
Consequently, the participants recommended that, amid an enhancement in information dissemination that utilises new and emerging media, stakeholders should improve its strategies in identifying and involving relevant stakeholders in information dissemination.
While state governments were urged to timely release operational funds to SEMAs, host communities and security agents were, on the other hand, charged to be involved in the protection of equipment. Apart from a regular review, update and implementation of contingency plan by NEMA and SEMAs, as well as improved capacity building of stakeholders, the gathering recommended that, besides NEMA, NIHSA and NiMET, the existing task team should be expanded to include critical stakeholders like the National Water Research Institute, Federal Ministry of Environment, and the National Space Research and Development Agency.
The Nation

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