Building resilience in communities is essential strategy in tackling floods and other disasters within Nigeria. This was the position of Director General National Emergency Management Agency Mustapha Ahmed Habib at a recent media parley with media practitioners in Lagos, where he also said it was in line with Global Standards on Disaster risk reduction.
Resilience is the ability of a community to withstand and recover from natural disasters and other crises. When communities are resilient, they are better equipped to cope with disasters and minimize their impact.
There are many ways to build resilience in communities. One approach is to invest in infrastructure that can withstand natural disasters, such as flood barriers, reinforced buildings, and drainage systems. This can be expensive, but it can save lives and prevent damage in the long run.
Another approach is to educate the community about disaster preparedness. This includes teaching people how to evacuate safely, how to stockpile emergency supplies, and how to communicate with each other during a crisis. This can be done through community events, social media, and other outreach efforts.
Community involvement is also critical in building resilience. When people work together to prepare for disasters, they are more likely to be successful. This can include organizing community meetings, creating emergency response teams, and developing communication networks.
Indeed, building resilience in communities is essential to tackling flood and other disasters. It requires investment in infrastructure, education, community involvement, and addressing the root causes of natural disasters. By working together, we can create communities that are better equipped to cope with disasters and minimize their impact.
Local authorities play a crucial role in flood prevention, mitigation, and management. They are responsible for ensuring that communities are prepared for floods, and that they have the resources and knowledge necessary to respond effectively to a flood event.
One of the primary roles of local authorities is to identify areas that are at risk of flooding. This can be done through mapping and modeling, which can help predict flood patterns and the potential impact on communities. The National Emergency Management Agency has released the 2023 climate Related disaster Preparedness and Mitigation strategies which states and local Government authorities are expected to implement to mitigate the impact of floods in identified risk areas.
With the high risk areas identified, local authorities can take steps to mitigate the risk of flooding, such as building flood barriers, improving drainage systems, and regulating development in flood-prone areas. Local authorities are also responsible for developing emergency response plans in the event of a flood. This includes coordinating with Federal and State Emergency Management Agencies and other stakeholders by putting in place emergency services, evacuating residents, and providing shelter and support to those affected by the flood. They must also work to ensure that essential services, such as hospitals and utilities, are able to continue operating during a flood event.
In addition to these roles, local authorities being the closest Government to the people are responsible for educating the public about flood risks and how to prepare for them. This can include providing information about evacuation routes, emergency supplies, and flood insurance. They must also work to engage with the community and encourage participation in flood prevention and response efforts.
Local authorities play a critical role in post-flood recovery efforts. They must work in collaboration with Federal and State Emergency Management Agencies to assess the damage caused by the flood, provide support to affected residents, and coordinate with government agencies and non-governmental organizations to ensure that recovery efforts are effective and efficient.
The significant roles of community participation were also highlighted when the Director General NEMA Mustapha Habib Ahmed made a presentation to Nigerian Governors during the meeting of the Nigerian Governors Forum in Abuja. He referenced the country’s triple response structure for disaster and emergency management and said; “as we know disasters are local and to enhance our disaster management capabilities, it is imperative that State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) are fully operationalized and Local Management Committees (LMCs) are activated. These bodies will play a crucial role in ensuring effective disaster response at the state and local levels.”
Furthermore, he specifically pointed to the fact that ecological funds are shared among the three tiers of Government for the purpose of triple response, noting that since the national government has been living up to its responsibilities, the sub-national and local government should also make apply the funds received for this purpose to address disaster-related situations in their areas.
It is important to also address the root causes of natural disasters. Climate change is a major contributor to the frequency and severity of floods and other disasters. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in renewable energy, we can help mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce the risk of natural disasters.
There is no doubt that local authorities play vital roles in flood prevention, mitigation, and management. They must work together with federal and state authorities to identify areas at risk of flooding, develop emergency response plans, educate the public, and coordinate recovery efforts. By working together with the community, emergency services, and other stakeholders, local authorities can help reduce the impact of floods on communities and ensure that they are prepared to respond effectively to a flood event
Manzo Ezekiel and Abdulkadir Ibrahim wrote in from NEMA Headquarters Abuja