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Disaster risk reduction better than managing humanitarian crisis, says FEMA D-G

The Director-General, FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Mr Abbas Idriss, says it is more economical to invest in disaster reduction initiatives than to tackle disasters.

Ahmed Habib
Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Ahmed Habib

“Experience has shown that it is more economical to invest in disaster risk reduction initiatives than to tackle the humanitarian consequences or population displacement by eventual disastrous events,’’ he said.

Idriss was speaking on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at the 3rd biennial South-South regional conference on “Disaster Risk Reduction in Nigeria’’.

He noted that people displaced by disasters experienced despair and struggled for survival with heavy burden on humanitarian actors.

“For us in the field of disaster management, we don’t need to wait to manage disaster risks.

“We need to be proactive rather than reactive because it is always very costly to manage disasters.

“The best way is to prevent disaster so that we will be able to save more as a nation instead of spending to manage humanitarian crises.

“Simple initiatives such as creating community risk awareness, community involvement in risk identification and reduction activities save costs,’’ he said.

The FEMA D-G said that there was also the need to identify disasters that could be handled by communities.

He added that Nigeria would not achieve sustainable disaster risk reduction without the active engagement and support of local communities.

Idriss urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to prioritise its resource allocation and programmes in favour of local communities.

This, he said, was necessary because ignorance, cultural practices and believes had undermined efforts at tackling disasters through risk reduction.

“NEMA should, in this direction, adopt a bottom-to-top approach which places greater emphasis on tackling risk at the community levels.

“Centres, risk management institutions, professional bodies and other stakeholders should continue to propagate the message of disaster risk reduction as a way forward in building resilient communities,’’  he said.

Idriss also said that communities could take responsibility for disaster risk reduction by building resilience and corporate capacity through an integrated development approach.

He said the conference should emphasise the importance of disaster risk reduction over any form of intervention or response.

The conference was organised by the University of Port Harcourt’s Centre for Disaster Risk Management and Development Studies in collaboration with NEMA.

It has “Reducing Disaster Risk, Improving Humanitarian Actions’’ as its theme.

By Omuboye Sukubo

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