Relocate communities urgently over flooding, NEMA warns 13 govs
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), yesterday, called on some state governments to relocate communities prone to witness heavy floods due to normal rains coupled with the combined waters from Rivers Niger and Benue, as they empty into the region.
NEMA Director-General, Mustapha Ahmed, issued the notice in Abuja at a critical technical meeting to review the situation and announce further action by emergency responders.
According to Ahmed, based on the agency’s communication with the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), the Lagdo dam operators in the Republic of Cameroun have commenced release of excess water from the reservoir since September 13.
The development, he noted, would have serious consequences for frontline states and communities along the courses of Rivers Niger and Benue.
The frontline states, the DG mentioned, include: Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Kebbi and Kogi in the northern part of Nigeria, while Edo, Delta, Anambra, Cross River, Rivers and Bayelsa were listed among states prone to flash floods in the southern axis of the country.
Ahmed said: “We are aware that the released water cascades down to Nigeria through River Benue and its tributaries, thereby inundating communities that have already been impacted by heavy precipitation.
“The released water complicates the situation further downstream as Nigeria’s inland reservoirs, including Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro, are also expected to overflow between now and October ending, according to NIHSA.”
“According to NIHSA, Kainji and Jebba dams have already started spilling excess waters from their reservoirs.”
He continued: “I want to advise all the governments of the frontline states to move away communities at risk of inundation, identify safe higher grounds for evacuation of persons and preposition adequate stockpiles of food and non-food items, potable water, hygiene, safety and security to enable them a fair level of comfort during periods of possible displacement.
“This actions become necessary as we collectively work towards a lasting solution to the yearly threats of floods.”
The DG said NEMA zonal, territorial and operation (ZTO) offices have been activated to coordinate resources in their areas of responsibilities to respond to the situation, adding that the headquarters staff have also been deployed to support the ZTO, territorial and operational offices.
Ahmed went on: “We have also prepositioned food and non-food relief items which we have already started deploying to affected states.
“I call on all relevant frontline responders to intensify their preparedness, carry out early warning targeting the most vulnerable communities, prepare for evacuation to safer ground and provide all other life-saving assistance to persons at risk.
“I expect SEMAS of the identified states to organise regular state emergency coordination meetings to prepare state level actors for this very important national call to duty. As we always emphasise, disaster management is everyone’s business.
NIHSA DG, Clement Nze, who disclosed that the country was losing over 200 billion cubic metres of fresh water yearly, urged state governors to embrace conversation to avoid the wastage.