The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has reactivated its Humanitarian Coordination Forum (HCF) in Kogi State as part of preparedness for the looming flood disaster in some parts of the state.
Speaking at the event in Lokoja, the NEMA Head of Abuja Operations Office, Mr Bitrus Samuel, said that the reactivation of the forum was to ensure effective and efficient coordination of activities in the event of flooding.
He said that the forum would largely be responsible for the success of response to the disaster which might come with humanitarian crises.
Samuel explained that the forum, made up of critical stakeholders in disaster management, would develop strategies, identify funding requirement and set direction for the required response.
Going by the the 2020 flood outlook and flood prediction, Samuel said that the flood could have severe impacts on people, infrastructure, farming and fishing in Lokoja, Bassa, Ofu, Kogi, Ajaokuta, Dekina, Ofu, Idah, Ibaji, Igala-Mela.and Adavi local government areas of the state.
He urged the people in the council areas to brace up for a higher magnitude of flood similar to the 2012 experience, saying that the flood will come anytime from now.
The official cited the River Niger current flood level of 7.02 metres as a clear indication that the flood was on the way, saying that the country would be at the receiving end, being at the lower part of the river.
According to Samuel, the forum should quickly put in place search and rescue and response measures so as not to be caught unawares.
He also charged members to identify high grounds for use as camps for people that could be displaced as a result of the flood.
Members of the forum were drawn from the Red Cross, Navy, civil defence , media, marine police, fire service, Air Force, members of civil society and relevant ministries and departments.
Speaking at the event, the Special Adviser to Gov. Yahaya Bello on emergency and environment, Imam Salih Adams, described the reactivation of the forum as a timely intervention.
He also described it as a relief to residents were already griped with fear over the possible disaster.
Adams said that the state government under the leadership of Gov. Bello placed too much premium on life and property and had in line with this put in place measures to mitigate the effects of the flood.
He promised that government would make available all necessary needs and cooperation to the forum but harped on the need for members not to betray the trust reposed in them and ensure efficient use of resources that will be put at their disposal.
By Kola Adeyemi