KEY NOTE ADDRESS BY THE DIRECTOR GENERAL, NATIONAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (NEMA), AVM M.M AUDU- BIDA (RTD) at a programme for emergency volunteers at the community level: taking disaster management to the grass root, holding at the conference hall, kano state library, 25th-27th february 2009.
It gives me great pleasure to present the key note address on this important programme aimed at mobilizing and training grassroots volunteers to complement the efforts of government in disaster risk management. Evidences abound that most disasters occur in one community or the other. The various communities are also known to be the first responders in most emergency situations.
Evidences have shown that none of the various preventive or protective measures would be effective without the informed participation of the civil society and the communities.
Whether a disaster is major or minor, of national, state or local proportion, it is the people at the community or village level who suffer its adverse effects. They use various coping and survival strategies to respond to the situation long before help come from the government or other non governmental organizations arrive. In self defense they must take certain actions to protect their lives and properties even though when not properly trained and equipped to do so. Records have shown that the communities that experience the least damage and recover the fastest from disasters are those that are aware and have basic in-house resources to intervene in their problems. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has therefore decided to target the able hands in the local communities as potential complements for local emergency management across the country.
What we are about to commence today is the inauguration and training of the Nasarawa Local Government, Kano State Pilot Emergency Volunteer Corps.. The three days training programme is intended to impact basic disaster management knowledge and skills to the 200 (no) Volunteers that have been selected across all the wards of Nasarawa Local Government of Kano state. During the three-day training programme, volunteers will be availed with basic disaster management concepts and skills to assist other emergency workers in disaster prevention and response.
To achieve our objectives, ladies and gentlemen we have assembled competent hands from the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Commission, National Air Space Management Authority, Nigerian Red Cross, the Kano State Ministries of Health and Environment and NEMA to deliver lectures to the participants. Participants will be taught on how to prevent, mitigate and respond to the major hazards in the state.
The programme we are witnessing today is a continuation of the pilot programme that the Agency started in June 2009 in Kaduna State. It is our hope that by the grace of God the programme will spread to all the local governments in the 36 states of the country within the shortest time.
Your Excellency we are commencing the training of the volunteer corps at a time when some states from the north are experiencing an outbreak of meningitis and cholera. Hundreds of cases have so far been reported with degree of fatality. The current Meningitis and Cholera epidemics call for appropriate enlightenment, improved personal and environmental hygiene, ventilation of residential properties and improved enhanced diseases surveillance nationwide. We hope the volunteer corps would be relevant in providing early warning information on incidences in their communities to the relevant Agencies of Government for appropriate further action.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to inform you that appropriate plans are underway in the Agency to mobilize the latent hands amongst the professionals (medical doctors, engineers, surveyors, geologist and top executives in the public and organized private sector of the economy) to form Executive Emergency Volunteers Corps Units across the country as complements to the Grassroots Volunteer Corps and relevant Government Emergency Management Agencies.
Your Excellency, permit me at this point to place on record the support, cooperation, collaboration and understanding the Agency has received from the Government and the people of Kano State over the years. Similarly, I wish to call on Your Excellency to kindly use your good office to facilitate the passage of the relevant laws for the legal establishment of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) in Kano state for a building of resilience against disaster in Kano state.
To the participants, I wish to say a big thank you for making yourself available to give voluntary service to your community.
Thank you and God bless.