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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Flood Control: Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu take proactive measures

The Governments of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states are taking proactive measures to prevent flooding in their respective areas to avoid a repeat of 2022 disaster.

Anambra State flood
A flooded Umueze Anam, Anambra West LGA of Anambra State

The respective authorities in the states responsible for flood and disaster management spoke in separate interviews on how to avoid another flood disaster.

Speaking, Chief Paul Odenigbo, Executive Secretary, Anambra State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), advised residents of the state against throwing solid waste into water channels.

Odenigbo said that checking the disposal of solid waste into water channels could prevent flash floods especially in the urban centres.

He said that if the water channels were open, flood water would freely empty into nearby streams and rivers.

The SEMA boss said what had compounded flooding in the urban centres before now was poor sanitary attitude of the residents.

According to him, the flood disaster which occurs when rivers overflow its banks is natural, saying there is very little or nothing government could do to prevent such.

He said to avoid a repeat of the level of devastation experienced by residents of the state last year, the state Ministry of Environment and Flood Committee were cleaning up all water channels.

“The committee headed by Dr Onyekachi Ibezim is working in conjunction with the state Ministry of Environment to ensure that all water channels in Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia are cleaned.

“All what we advise is that residents should stop further pouring of solid waste into the water channels,” he said.

A resident of Awka, Mr John Igboka, called on the state government to intensify efforts towards cleaning the water channels.

He said though the government claimed that they were cleaning water channels, “we have not seen those cleaning the water channels in my area.”

“Before now, this is the way government speaks, we are doing this, we are doing that to check flood; yet, when the rains come, it will take us by storm,” he said.

In the same vein, the Enugu State Government says it has concluded plans for regular meetings and engagements with stakeholders on water and flooding control.

Mrs Nkechi Eneh, Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), disclosed this in Enugu, the state capital.

She, however, said that the meetings and engagements would commence immediately the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) released its Annual National Flood Prediction Forecast.

Eneh said the state had planned meetings with critical stakeholders in the flooding control and mitigation sub sector including ministries, agencies, civil society organisations and the security agencies.

She said: “Our robust flood control and mitigation efforts are concentrating on saving lives as well as the livelihood of our people this year.

“We are going to involve the ministries of Environment, Health, Information, the state Primary Health Care Development Agency and our national partners including National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Red Cross, Police and NSCDC.”

The SEMA boss said the engagements would be a continuous one and would involve council chairmen, traditional rulers, community and religious leaders within the flood prone areas.

“As soon as we get the NIHSA flood prediction forecast for the year, we will hit the ground running.

“We believe that the earlier we sensitise and engage our stakeholders and partners, the better for everybody,” she said.

The executive secretary noted that the state would make use of jingles in local languages in local radio and television stations and the social media platforms to relate messages of flood prevention to the people.

“It will be fashioned in such a way that the message would help to change negative attitudes of the residents towards the environment,” she said.

In Ebonyi, flood disaster used to be a major occurrence during rainy season where many household items were not spared and people sacked from their homes.

In an interview with stakeholders in Abakaliki, Dr Kelechi Okezie, an environmentalist, urged the Ebonyi State Government to take a proactive step aimed at checking erosion menace in the state capital and surrounding towns as the rainy season approached.

He called on the Ministry of Environment and other relevant government agencies to embark on opening of blocked water drainages and dismantling of structures illegally erected on waterways to ease water flows during rainy season.

Okezie also called for proper sensitisation campaigns to educate the residents of Abakaliki and other major towns in the state against the dangers of dumping solid wastes in water drainages.

The environmentalist commended the efforts of the state government in the flood and erosion control efforts in the state under the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), a World Bank assisted project.

According to him, the NEWMAP intervention in the Ebonyi flooding menace has assisted to address environmental issues while also cushioning the effect on communities affected by flood.

“NEWMAP through the dredging of Iyiudene River and others has brought a permanent solution to erosion and flooding menace in the capital city and other communities in Ebonyi.

“State government should leverage on the new Ebonyi Environmental Law and the environmental marshals to ensure that dredged rivers and other channels are not blocked with solid waste,” Okezie said.

Meanwhile, Mr Richard Nnabu, the state Commissioner for Environment, said that erosion and flood were part of the problems the state was facing before the World Bank intervention.

“But the coming on board of the World Bank-assisted project had become a turning point in ameliorating the ugly trend of the menace in the state.

“I will equally reinstate the government position on zero tolerance for indiscriminate dumping of waste into drain channels, encroachment on waterways, illegal sand mining and other forms of practices capable of causing soil erosion and flooding in the state.

“Our commitment is to ensure environment of safe environment and we will resist any unwholesome practice that will retard our efforts in this regard,” Nnabu said. 

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