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Stakeholders urge massive floodplain developments, funding for control structures


Executive Director, National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna, Prof. Emmanuel Adanu(left); Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR), Mrs. Comfort Ekaro; Retired Permanent Secretary, FMWR, Dr. Musa Ibrahim; Director, Rivers Operations and Inspectorate, FMWR, Mr.A.J.Ochigbo and Managing Director/CEO, Niger Delta Basin Development Authority, Tonye David-West during the 9th national water conference held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. PHOTO: ANN GODWIN

The stakeholders say Nigeria should place disaster risk reduction at the centre of its economic and social policy. They also demand strict compliance to environmental laws and urban development planning regulations on construction and habitations in floodplains in the country.

Stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to harness the agricultural benefits of flooding through massive floodplain development for crop productions to support the non-oil economic diversification policy.

They also want the government to provide adequate funding for flood management and control structures, especially early warning systems, flood marks and flood control dams.

The stakeholders made the recommendations at the 9th National Water Conference held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, last week with the theme “Flood Management and Economic Development,” where they also urge government and Nigerians to take a clue from the developed countries and become proactive in managing disasters.


A resolution reached at the end of the conference and signed by the Executive Director, National Water Resources Institute, (NWRI,) Kaduna, Prof. Emmanuel Adamu and the Managing Director of Niger Delta River Basin Development Authority, (NDBDA,) Port Harcourt, Tonye David -West, said, converting flood into economic purpose can be achieved by encouraging multisectoral collaborative actions in flood management in the country.

They also resolved that upgrade existing reference laboratories with high technical facilities that can analyze EPs in water and ensure regular monitoring of sedimentation and gradual removal of sediments in rivers and dams reservoirs in the country.

The conference brought together experts and stakeholders in the water resources sector, academia, development partners, civil society organizations, departments and agencies from federal, state and local levels, students and private sectors to discuss and share knowledge and experiences on how to draw out the benefits of flooding for economic purposes.

The communiqué further advised states and local governments to strengthen solid waste management and construct engineered landfills for effective solid waste disposal.  They stated that the FMWR in liaison with relevant MDAs should enforce strict compliance to environmental laws and urban development planning regulations on construction and habitations in floodplains in the country.

Speaking during the four- day meeting, which was organized by NWRI and the NDBDA PortHarcourt, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Mrs. Sadiya Farouq, called on the Federal Government to place disaster risk reduction at the centre of its economic and social policy.

She pointed out, that the nation faces high disaster risk because stakeholders are focusing more on post -disaster interventions such as reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

According to the Minister who was represented by Mrs. Dorathy Nwodo, there is need to increase investments in preventive disaster risk reduction measures to build a more disaster resilient society. She urged relevant stakeholders to scale up progress in reducing disaster risks at local, state and national levels. She said: “ Nigeria should place disaster risk reduction at the Centre of its economic and social policy. It is noteworthy that countries such as Japan after the earthquakes invested heavily in prevention, and it is without any doubt, that mainstreaming disaster risk reduction has been the foundation of Japan’s economic success. Therefore, I am of the view that disaster risk reduction is the only way to ensure that disasters do not derail sustainable development and poverty alleviation”

Similarly, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu while also calling on Nigerians to draw example from the developed countries on converting disasters into economic use, he pointed out that the nation’s water resources management is facing challenges orchestrated by the natural phenomena and anthropogenic factors, including significant variability and unpredictable rainfall which impacts on river flows.

He said, “This has led to changes in freshwater ecosystem leading to loss in biodiversity, inadequate human and institutional capacity for developing and managing the available water resources. Furthermore, it has led to inadequate investment in water resources, monitoring networks and water infrastructure, as well as inadequate funding”

While describing the theme of the conference as apt, and timely following the flood history in Nigeria and its devastating effects in the environment, He called for encouragement and partnership among water agencies and development partners to address the challenges in all aspects.

The Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Water Resources noted that flood is a global challenge with varying diseconomies to communities where it occurs.

He said, “As we confront the reality of climate change, we will more regularly face flooding and its concomitant effects on the social effects on the soil ecology and geomorphology, agriculture and human settlements. In doing so, we must continually evolve new and innovative approaches to managing the menace and ingeniously reduce the negative impacts on the socio-economic system through proactive approaches to ameliorate the challenges that come with it”

On her part, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Comfort Ekaro, stressed the need to create more awareness among stakeholders on how to utilize the benefits of flooding for economic purposes.

Meanwhile, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akubueze, said, despite the Government’s limited resources, it is committed in providing funds to address the problems of floods through budgetary provisions for financing various projects, provisions of succor and compensation to affected internally displaced persons. (IDPs)

He promised that government would continue to make funds available to mitigate the challenges, adding that the recent creation of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management would facilitate the management of economic issues that result in the wake of any disaster including flooding.

The Chairman, Board of Directors of NDBDA, Chiso Datijjo, noted that it was the first time to host Conference of this nature in the Southern part of the country, a region which experiences heavy flooding and environmental degradation. He expressed hope that the meeting would make positive impact in the region.

The Acting Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources, Amatemeso Emmanuel, said on all hands must be on deck, including the three tiers of government to tackle the menace of flooding and bring home its benefits.


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