ANALYSIS: NEMA, Other Stakeholders Sensitize South East Residents On Solutions To Flood DisasterFeatured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Sunday, August 30th, 2015
By Ignatius Okpara, Enugu – Over the years, flood disaster had continued to wreck serious havoc on some parts of South Eastern Nigeria, as well as remained one of the factors militating against development of states within the geo-political zone.
There is no gainsaying in the fact that the frequency of the menace, in some States within the zone, had occasioned many disasters in most of their communities and homes, in particular, loss of lives and property.
The scourge, apart from claiming lives, had also consumed several valuable assets belonging to manufacturing organizations in this part, a development that has affected their productivity and stability, subsequently forcing them to lay off their workforce in droves.
It would be recalled that the once booming Ferdinad Anahara, a Rubber and vegetable oil industries in Urualla, Ideato South local government Area of Imo state were consumed by devastating flood and erosion few years ago.
For instance, Anambra and Imo state, were among areas in the south East region, that were adversely affected during the 2012 nationwide overwhelming flood which the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA) said affected 35 out of the 37 States in Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Four years after it occurred, many affected states and communities in the zone, are yet to recover fully from the damage, fatalities and injuries, the disaster caused in their respective communities.
Report that emanated from NEMA headquarters in Abuja then, had it that the 2012 flood disaster, affected a total of 3,870 communities, 256 local government areas, damaged infrastructures valued 2.6 trillion naira as well as recorded 363 deaths.
Agreed, flood disaster, often times happen naturally, but the recent investigations by some relevant environmental agencies, revealed that most times, they are man- made – caused by human negligence and carelessness.
One of the major causes of flood disaster in most communities and cities according to NEMA, is poor waste management, which often leads to blockage of water channels.
Since its establishment by Act 12 with amendments of Act 50 of 1999, the National NEMA, the Federal Government (FG) outfit saddled with the handling, and coordination of disaster issues in Nigeria, had continued to propagate the culture of effective waste management in the country.
Besides, the Agency has continued to strive towards living up to its vision of building a culture of preparedness, prevention, Response and Community Resilience to disaster in Nigeria.
It is against this backdrop – constant flooding in the region and the need to re-awaken the consciousness of South- East residents towards efficient waste management that NEMA, recently staged a one day sensitization/ Awareness Creation workshop.
In his keynote address at the event held at Villa Toscana Hotel Enugu, on 25th, August 2015, the NEMA South- East Zonal Coordinator, Major James Eze, noted “a lot of individuals have lost their lives, property and their means of livelihood, which means that persistent flooding over the years is pushing people into poverty which itself is a serious threat to the socio-economic stability in the South- East”.
He said: “given the deluge of requests from various communities, the attention of the Director- General of NEMA, Alhaji Mohammad Sani Sidi, has been drawn to this constant flood threats and he has directed that risks awareness campaigns and efficient waste management should be used as weapons to confront this flood menace”
According to Eze, “we know that inefficient waste management is one of the causes of flooding, because drainage systems are almost always filled by garbage, thereby, preventing the free flow of storm water during the rains”
The South- East NEMA boss, regretted that most times, the curious aspect was that the refuse generated were usually from packing materials used by manufacturers.
He noted that the degradation rate of organic materials was faster than that of polymer/ plastics and metals used in industrial packaging, adding that “the half- life of these materials take many years and could constrict drainage systems to cause severe flooding if not well managed.
Eze further advocated that the time has come for government to introduce tax on manufacturers that did not use easily degradable materials for packaging their products.
The NEMA Zonal Coordinator disclosed that he decided to invite experts to the workshop, so that they could give residents of the zone more insight on how increased flood risk awareness campaigns, efficient waste management and the use of high rate degrading packaging materials, could be used to control flooding in communities.
“It is the wish of the Director- General, Mohammad Sani Sidi, that this workshop will rouse the consciousness of the public on the dangers of flooding, and how well to use local knowledge to combat the scourge.
Eze, charged the community leaders and youths to embark on some self-help projects that could help in proper channeling of storm water which often block drainages and cause flooding.
Aside the NEMA awareness creation workshops, he stressed there was also the need for the people of South east extraction of Nigeria to take seriously, the recent warning by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency’s (NIHSA) that some states would experience serious flooding on account of heavy rainfall this year.
NIMET Director-General Dr. Anthony Anuforom, explained in Abuja that the warning became necessary as a way of alerting Nigerians on the need to take preventive measures to avert it a repeat of 2012 flooding.
States that may experience the flooding, according to the Director-General of NIHSA, Dr. Moses Beckley, are Niger, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Anambra and Taraba amongst others.
The agency also warned that Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Lagos states were likely to experience coastal flooding due to the rise in sea level.
Enugu state Governor, Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi, who also spoke at the workshop via the Executive Secretary, State Emergency Management Agency, (ESEMA), Josephat Offor, warned against improper waste disposal.
“Improper waste management has contributed greatly to flood menace in our urban and in some cases, rural communities.
“Government and her citizenry should be mindful and conscious of their responsibility in proper waste disposal, so as to avoid blockages of storms/ flood drains” Ugwuanyi cautioned.
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