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Flooding response: Adesola tasks Area Councils on Emergency Management Committees

July, 2021 | By Nkechi Isa | ||

Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Mr. Olusade Adesola, has implored Area Councils yet to constitute their Local Emergency Management Committees to do so with utmost urgency as gaps can undermine the strength of FCT Emergency Response Plan. He made the call in a keynote address at the year 2021 Federal Capital Territory Flood Outlook and Updating of FCT Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan in Abuja.

Mr. Adesola explained that eight years down the line and two reviews, the update must accommodate emerging developments like the Covid-19 pandemic, kidnappings, banditry, communal clashes and complexities caused by climate change. He assured that FCTA will continue to support the activities of the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the limits of available resources to enable it perform creditably when the need arises.

In an opening address, the Director General (DG), FEMA, Abbas Idriss said that the forum provides an opportunity to update and strengthen the emergency preparedness and response plan which clearly spells out specific roles by all actors in various emergency situations in the FCT. Idriss added: "Without this kind of document jointly put together and periodically reviewed and simulated by stakeholders, confusion and counter -productive actions will tend to set in, in the field during emergency operations."

According to him, FEMA has had to adopt the use of town criers to sensitize rural communities on the dangers of flooding, noting that feedbacks from this approach have been positive. He added that reflective caution billboards have also been erected at every flood-prone area to warn residents when it rains due to ugly experiences of the past in some of those locations. "As part of FEMA's disaster risk reduction, we have carried out hazard mapping , vulnerability and capacity assessment of the entire FCT to identify different disasters that are peculiar to particular areas and devise ways to mitigate them. This has culminated in the production of a risk register of the entire FCT," he stated.

Giving a summary of its activities in 2020, Idriss said FEMA responded to a total of 768 distress calls, of which 27 were false, two building collapse in which three lives were lost, 32 persons rescued while properties worth N84,625,000 was salvaged, amongst others. The DG added that all the flooding problems in FCT were localised and human-induced and ranged from blocked drainage, building on water ways and blocked manholes. Presenting the overview of the 2021 annual flood outlook in FCT, DG, Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Mr. Clement Nze said Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Gwagwalada, Bwari and Kwali Area Councils were highly probable flood zones on top watch list this rainy season.

He called for prompt sensitization and education of residents to mitigate the impact of flooding. The DG cautioned officials of the agency responsible for approving lands to be careful so that they do not endanger people's lives. Presenting a paper titled 'Flood Management in an Emerging City: The Case of the FCT', the Chief Executive Officer of Pearls Learning Hub, Dr Adeolu Odusote, explained that an effective flood management for the FCT must address three major areas---cause , consequences and policy.

According to Dr Odusote, the causes of flooding in FCT include building close to waterways, river banks, changing the course of a river, heavy rainfall, sedimentation and increased impervious surfaces. He urged government to invest in regular and up-to-date climatic and weather-related data collection and also called for a master plan for drainage in Abuja. A communiqué issued at the end of the two-day event called on stakeholders to adopt new approaches and attitude in flood prevention, mitigation and response to effectively tackle flooding in FCT.

It also emphasized the need to correct infrastructural deficits and anomalies, strict enforcement of city planning laws with regards to construction on flood plains and drainage lines and the need to carry out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before allocating land for various purposes. The communiqué also sought training and retraining of all emergency stakeholders in FCT, collaboration with the Armed Forces and other security agencies to strengthen their resource base. It also asked Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) to check the activities of scavengers and wheelbarrow waste collectors on indiscriminate dumping of refuse.

According to the communiqué, FEMA must engage business organizations, including multinationals and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in managing flood and other emergencies. The forum also emphasized the need to develop a flood policy document for FCT.

News Update

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