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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Stakeholders call for attitudinal change, adequate funding to mitigate flooding

Some stakeholders in disaster management have called for attitudinal change and adequate funding to mitigate flooding in South- East, and South-South parts of the country.

They made this assertion in separate interviews in a national survey on flooding and its effects on lives and property in the two geo-political zones.

Anambra flood
Flooding in Anambra State

According to them, the public needs to desist from blocking of water ways with structures and dirt to check the flooding.

The Ebonyi State Emergency Management Agency (EBSEMA) said it had identified poor funding and inadequate manpower as major challenges to disaster management, especially flooding in the state.

Executive Secretary of EBSEMA, Mr Ken Oziomaeze, who decried the recurring incident of flooding in communities in Ebonyi, said the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) had identified eight out the 13 Local Government Areas as flood prone areas.

He listed the affected local governments as Ohaoazara, Ikwo, Onicha, Afikpo North, Ezza South, Ezza North and Ohaukwu are among the eight that experience flooding annually.

Oziomaeze urged the inhabitants of the flood-prone areas to relocate to a safe location to avoid loss of lives when there would be flood as predicted by NIHSA between September and October.

“Do not plant in those areas for now. To curb flooding, the public should desist from building and blocking of water channels because, flood sometimes occurs when water is being released from the dam.

“Yes, we have records of the flooding in some communities and SEMA has embarked on aggressive public awareness to enlighten people not to indulge in dumping of waste in drainage and waterways. Stop the blockage of water channels,” Oziomaeze said.

Mrs Chioma Ogbonna, a lecturer at Ebonyi State University, urged stakeholders to mitigate the impact of the impending flood through attitudinal change.

Also, people of Ano Community in Ivo Local Government Area, noted that the inability of the Federal Government to complete a dam project in the area is the major cause of flood.

Mr Innocent Igwe, an indigene of the community, said that Amakwo, Ngwogwo and Okue communities had not suffered from flooding for a long time.

“Our people have not been experiencing flood before the dam construction. Now farmers in the area are no longer planting, because of flooding.

“We call on the federal and state governments to come to our aid and complete the Ivo dam,” Igwe said.

Also, a farmer in Okue community, Mr Chibueze Okoro, corroborated this view and appealed to the government to complete the dam because it has become a threat to people in the area.

From Port Harcourt, Mr Walson Brandon, South-South Zonal Coordinator of NEMA in Rivers, has expressed the readiness of the agency to take necessary measures in the event the flood overwhelms the state.

Brandon said that NEMA was meeting with critical stakeholders in Rivers to put in place proper mitigating measures.

He said that the Rivers State Ministry of Special Duties had designated some primary school buildings to be used as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp should the flood overwhelm the villagers.

The Zonal Coordinator said that apart from natural causes, he would blame poor waste management and distortion of development plan along natural waterways for flooding.

Mr Uzoma Godwin, Disaster Management Coordinator of the Nigeria Red Cross Society in Rivers, called for a sophisticated disaster management team and plan.

Godwin said that flood had caused disruption of normal life such as education, health, community transportation among others.

“So, the mitigation, response and recovery measures need to be in place to manage and reduce the disaster,” he said.

However, some farmers in flood-prone areas said that the impact of previous years’ flooding and government’s approach to their predicament has left so much to be desired.

Dr Patricia Ogbonnaya, one of the farmers and Crown Princess of Ekpeye Kingdom, Ahoada-West Local Government Area of Rivers, said farming activities had stopped in the area due to flooding, describing it as “an annual event”.

Ogbonnaya recalled that her fishpond, occupying two and half hectares of land, was destroyed by flood in 2012.

According to her, all farmlands or villages in Ekpeye Kingdom were affected by the recurring flood.

“There is the need for effective measures to be put in place to check the menace.

“Our situation is compounded with the fact that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had classified us this year as low risk area.

“What it means is that no provision would be made for us again while we are annually affected and it is also a confirmation that NEMA has been doing nothing,’’ she said.

Also, a farmer in Ubeta Community of Ahoada-West LGA, Mr Andrew Egbelu, expressed regret that flood has destroyed his farm in the area.

Egbelu called on the government to come to the aid of farmers in the area by subsidising the cost of setting-up a farm, which he described as “huge”.

“I had a fish, cassava and yam farm that was destroyed overnight by flood and I am back to square one because there is no support from the state government to enable us to return to our business.

“Indomie and mattresses are for the community people and not for farmers and businesspeople that have lost so much,’’ he said.

In Cross River, official report noted that efforts have been put in place to mitigate flooding in flood-prone communities.

The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) had since inaugurated sensitisation committees across the 18 Local Government Areas of the state to sensitive residents living in flood prone areas.

The Director-General of SEMA in Cross River, Mr Princewill Ayim, said in Calabar that the objective was to enlighten the people, especially those living in swampy areas on the dangers of flooding.

According to him, it is important for residents living along the water ways to move up to higher lands in other to avoid loss of lives and property when it rains.

“Cross River is a riverine area and most of the communities are prone to flooding.

“As we speak, we have inaugurated a sensitisation committee against flooding in all the 18 local government areas across the state.

“We are calling on residents in the state to call the state emergency free toll line of 112 in case of any emergency outbreak around their locality,” he said.

In August 2020, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) organised a flood sensitisation programme for residents in Calabar South and Calabar Municipality.

Director-General of NEMA, retired Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Mohammed, during the programme disclosed that 254 communities in 14 local government areas across the state are flood prone.

According to Mohammed, who was represented by the South-South Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Mr Walson Brandon, residents needed to clear their gutters and desist from dumping refuse inside the drain and water ways to avert flooding.

“NEMA is carrying out this sensitisation of vulnerable flood communities in Cross River following the release of the 2020 Annual Flood Outlook by NiMet.

“The forecast captured 14 local government areas in Cross River to be affected and this will spread across 254 communities in the state,’’ he said.

No serious cases of flood have so far been reported in the state in 2020.

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