Flood: FG says 2.5 million Nigerians affected

Flood: FG says 2.5 million Nigerians affected

‘State governments, LGAs and communities urged to evacuate people living on flood plains to high grounds’

The Federal Government (FG) says over two million Nigerians have so far been affected by floods across the country.

The Minister, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, disclosed this in Abuja during a press briefing. The minister also applauded the efforts of authorities of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force for the deployment of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft.

She also noted that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources is working earnestly towards the construction of about two dams, adding that the building of these dams is quite expensive and takes a longer period of time, hence can’t be completed within a short period. She also noted that state governors met with the president who directed that all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) should work with sub-national governments with a view to curb the effects of the flood. 

The minister, who affirmed that several memos had been sent to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval, also assured of the government’s efforts toward provision of settlement areas for victims of the flood who were displaced across the country. 

She said, “Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development is concerned that despite all our efforts of averting the consequence of the 2022 flooding season, unfortunately we have recorded the loss of over 500 lives, partial or total damage of more than 90,000 houses, damage of more than 140,000 hectares of farmland. So many roads and other critical infrastructures were also affected.

“On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, the Nigerian Metrological Agency released the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction informing us that the rains of 2022 will be heavier and longer. Furthermore, on Thursday, May 12, 2022, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency released the Annual Flood Outlook.

“Immediately after these two releases, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was all out, armed with the scientific releases from the two agencies in the media and went to all states and FCT, warning of expected floods and advising on mitigating and preparedness actions they need to take to minimise losses and damages. 

“I also briefed the National Economic Council on September 22, 2022, where I outlined preparedness strategies that all state governments should take to mitigate the 2022 floods. “I have laid this background so that you will appreciate the concern of this ministry that despite all these efforts, we still appear to have become overwhelmed by the flood when it came. 

“However, in response to the 2022 flood situation, I directed the permanent secretary to convene an emergency technical stakeholder meeting of all responsive agencies to strategies immediate response to the situation. That meeting held on October 11, 2022 and they all have formulated plans and strategies for response. 

“Amongst other things, the meeting had resolved that: although flood has become an annual disaster with devastating consequence and the effect of climate change makes it difficult to prevent in Nigeria, it can be mitigated and managed.

“There was enough warning and information about the 2022 flood but states, local government areas and communities appear not to take heed; thus the meeting agreed to form a high powered delegation to state governors to advocate for more commitment to strengthen state response mechanisms as stipulated in the National Flood Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan. 

“Stakeholders will work within their respective mandates to prevent deaths due to flood or other health related diseases that are the aftermath. 

“We must initiate a bilateral discussion with authorities in Cameroon in November 2022 on the periodic opening of the Lagdo Dam. The delegation to Cameroon is to be led by the Permanent Secretary and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be requested to facilitate it. 

“For a coordinated flood response protocol, the meeting agreed to implement the National Flood Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan; accordingly, the sectoral approach to flood management at the national and sub-national levels must be absolutely implemented. 

“It was further emphasised that there was the need for state governments to invest in flood management and lead on community base flood early warning systems; hence the meeting called on state governments to take greater responsibilities for flood preparedness and response.

“It was agreed that it has become necessary to compel all state governments to strengthen their State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) and Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs) through a legal instrument so that they can have improved access to fund and personnel for effective disaster preparedness and response. 

“While we mourn the unfortunate boat mishap in Anambra State and other locations, we must note that we are not completely out of the woods, because the metrological agencies are warning that states like Anambra, Delta, Cross River, Rivers and Bayelsa are still at the risk of experiencing floods up till end of November. 

“So, we are calling on the respective state governments, local government areas and communities to prepare by evacuating people living on flood plains to high grounds, providing tents and relief materials, fresh water as well as medical supply for possible outbreak of water-borne diseases.” 

While giving update on the search-and-rescue operations carried out by NEMA to the inaccessible areas ravaged by the flood, especially in the south-east geo-political zone, Director of Search and Rescue, Air Commodore Edward Kolawole Adedokun, disclosed that the agency engaged with the authorities of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force. 

He said, “On what we have been able to do so far with regard to people in danger, we got the information and of course it was in the news that several people were cut off, and to the extent that some people had to stay on tree and rooftops.

“But what we were able to do was to engage with the military. The military has the capacity and capability to undertake search and rescue operation as well as evacuation. 

“We got engaged with the military headquarters and then the Army headquarters was able to activate the General Officer Commanding 82 Division and directly General Adeboye Obasanjo, the General Army Engineer Commander.” 

He affirmed that the Federal Government had approved the release of grains from the strategic grains reserve for onward distribution to all the states of the federation, to cushion the effects of the flood on the victims.

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