By Jude Atupulazi
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has urged people living in flood prone areas across the country to move to higher grounds to avert being submerged. To this end, NEMA is planning to write state governors to remind them of the likelihood of serious flooding this year so that they can speed up the provision of mitigating factors.
Already, some of the affected states have taken some measures to ensure no loss of lives and minimal damage to property.
It was gathered that some states had opened refugee camps for victims of flood and those likely to be displaced, while advising residents of flood prone areas to relocate to higher grounds.
For instance, Ogun State disclosed that it had secured the commitment of some religious institutions to use their camp grounds and hostels as temporary accommodation for flood victims.
For its part, NEMA noted that the best way to prevent disaster and loss of life and property was for the states to prepare ahead and do whatever was necessary to reduce the impact of the flood.
The agency had predicted that the severity of the rainy season and other weather conditions were likely to cause disruptions in the country, citing destruction of roads, bridges, other key infrastructure and eventual effects on the atmospheric conditions that could induce pathogens and disease vectors to cause malaria, cholera, heat stress, heat cramps exhaustion, heatstroke, hyperthermia, and other conditions in many communities.
Citing the possibility of the severe flooding washing away farms and causing destruction of livestock in the land, it added that airplanes might skid off runways due to heavy rainfall and flooding, resulting in major catastrophes.
The Director-General, NEMA, Habib Ahmed, had during the public presentation of the 2023 Climate-Related and Mitigation Strategies, stated that 314 out of the 774 local government areas in the country should brace for the risk of flooding, which was predicted to extend from April to November.
It added that a total of 66 local government areas were prone to high flood risk in the months of April to June, noting that such would also happen across 148 local government areas in July to September and 100 local government areas in the months of October and November.
A total of 412 local government areas were listed as falling within moderate flood risk areas between April and June; 199 from July to September; and 72 in the months of October and November.
As some states have started experiencing downpour, the Head of Media and Publicity, NEMA, Ezekiel Manzo, said that arrangements were being made by the agency to reach out to the state governments for them to have a deep understanding of the impending problem and the possible solutions.
He said reminder letters about the forecast would soon be forwarded to all the 36 state governors with the aim of rekindling awareness on the foreseen problem.
Manzo said, ‘NEMA is making an arrangement to refresh the minds of the state governments, especially now that there are new governors, so that they will have a deeper understanding of the problem on the ground and key into it. The bottom line is that NEMA is beginning the preparation to rekindle the awareness that has been raised on the problem.
‘NEMA is working with the state governments; avenues of contact with them have been established. The letter being written is not the challenge, but you know some of these governors have just assumed office. If we had written to them at the time of the handing over, the letters might not be delivered; so, we are also being strategic to allow them to take over and our letters will follow. We have a strategic plan and that is why we know that the letters will make a lot of things happen and we thank God that the rain is just coming after a period of time now, so we are still on board and we are on the right course.
‘NEMA has obtained approval from the President to carry out a special intervention for the people that are affected by flood and this intervention will involve a reasonable sum of money. Our officers are already out there throughout the states, validating the names of people who were affected and this will be followed by the distribution of livelihood support, including farm input, to improve economic support, help the people to recover and at least to restart after the flood.
‘Looking at the total costs in terms of the financial value, I don’t have that offhand,’ he stated.