NEMA decries nation’s disaster risk preparation, proffers solutions

Disaster Risk

The National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) has decried the nation’s level of preparation towards disaster risk management, describing it as a fire- brigade approach to managing disaster instead of trying to prevent and mitigate these risks before they occur. This was disclosed at a meeting of the national platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) held in Abuja with the support of the UNDP.

Participants were drawn from all sectors including NEMA, security forces and the paramilitary, Faith Based Organizations (FBO), Government ministries, departments and agencies, International Organizations, NGOs, Women/Youth organizations, the Academia, the private sector and the media.

Lamenting the fact that only South Africa and to some extent Ghana in the whole of Africa were more organized and pro-active in terms of DRR, NEMA listed several factors that were limiting it from achieving set goals and called for the need to constitutionalize DRR in all sectors of the nation.

Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi, DG, NEMA, pointed out that the nation is witnessing continuous rise in both natural and man-made disasters, resulting in loss of lives, large-scale displacement, socio-economic dislocation and environmental degradation. He reiterated the need to accelerate efforts on reducing disaster risk and building the resilience of communities at risk.

African member states, intergovernmental organizations and developmental partners formed the African Regional Platform for DRR. Nigeria hosted the platform in 2014, which resulted in the formulation of a document, globally called The Abuja Declaration. The meeting of the platforms is to commence preparation for the global platform on DRR, enable, share and replicate good practices with a view to enhancing coordination, increase awareness and mobilize commitments to DRR. Other objectives include planning for the implementation of the Sendai framework for action (SFA 2015-2030), raise awareness and recognize the contributions of the new Framework for DRR as well as create an advocacy platform on the new Sendai framework for DRR.

Experts and facilitators gave papers and in the end, there was agreement that till date, the country does not have a national disaster policy; only a framework, despite persistent calls and pleas from NEMA. It was further revealed that only Kogi, Gombe, Bayelsa and Abia of the thirty-six states in Nigeria, are prepared for disaster occurrence, a shockingly poor number. Even though Nigeria thankfully isn’t a natural disaster prone country, several factors have driven disaster risk up in the last few years. Some of these drivers include conflict, flood, epidemics, famine and climate change.

The body asked that DRR be made into a legislation so that each state receiving allocation will be accountable for monies received, as the states are believed not to be doing enough in the area of disaster control and management.

At the end of the two-day deliberations, a communiqué, which is a commitment to implement several things, was issued. The action points include an arrangement for states and local governments to develop and implement locally oriented programmes of action that would actualize framework to increase resilience and enhance disaster preparedness. The conference also affirmed the need to mainstream DRR into policies and programmes of government at all levels, the importance of gender mainstreaming in DRR activities and adequate budgetary allocation for DRR at all tiers of government. Also considered is the establishment and strengthening of SEMAs and LEMCs to perform critical roles of DRR as well as an effective advocacy programme to support SEMAs and LEMCs.

The platform resolved to meet twice yearly, with the next meeting scheduled to hold in October in Calabar, Cross-River state.

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