Mitigating Floods: NEMA, NIHSA Task Stakeholders On Evacuation Of Citizens To Safer Destinations

By Miriam Humbe

Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), Mustapha Habib Ahmed on Wednesday tasked stakeholders to prepare for and mitigate possible flood disaster this year by the immediate evacuation of Nigerians from various communities to safer destinations.

The Director General said this at the emergency coordination meeting of stakeholders on the release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.

He urged stakeholders for nationwide sensitization especially in states and communities which may likely be affected by the impending flood.

The Director General also emphasized the de-escalation of the Early Warning messages to States; TV and radio appearances; TV and radio jingles and issuing press releases, clearing of drainages and readiness to embark on rescue mission, among others.

NEMA Director General said: “This particular meeting has been necessitated by the notification received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the modulated release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon on the Benue River.

“The country has commenced release of water from the Dam at the rate of 200 cubic meters per second which is about 18 million cubic meter of water per day.

“This release may result to all front line states experiencing flooding in subsequent days and weeks.

“It is of great importance to also note that the Dam might commence full discharge of excess water in the event that the region experiences heavy amount of rainfall.

“As we all know, coordination is a vital component of disaster management which needs to be given adequate attention to ensure timely and efficient response.

“To ensure effective coordination and implementation of various policies therefore, the Agency has deemed it fit to invite critical stakeholders to this Forum to deliberate on how to respond and mitigate the impeding flood we are currently being faced with, in Nigeria.

“The 2012 flood menace caused by the release of water from the Dam, which ravaged many states within the country will not be easily forgotten.

“You will recall that the 2022 flood disaster claimed 665 lives, displaced 2,437,411 persons and affected 4,476,867 persons.

“We have already started experiencing flood in some parts of the country this year with the rainfall.

“The release from the Lagdo Dam will only worsen the flood situation and therefore calls for concerted effort so as to address and mitigate the impact.

“The states on the downstream of River Benue are Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Enugu, Edo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa States.

“Information available from the flow level of the River Benue at Nigerian Hydrological Service Agency (NIHSA) gauging station in Makurdi stood at 8.97 meters as of August 25th, 2023, compared to 8.80 meters on the same date in 2022.

“Also, NISHA has provided that the flow level of River Niger system, especially at Niamey, Niger Republic, remains stable at a normal level of 4.30 meters.

“Similarly, inland dams including Kainji, Jebba, and Shuroro reported consistent flow regimes.

“The ECF is therefore an avenue for critical stakeholders to come together to strategize and ensure that the release do not cause much negative impacts on the low-lying communities along the states that would be affected.”

He called for calm, saying NEMA was working with other government partners to mitigate the impact.

Ahmed said: “While it is imperative for everyone to remain calm, NEMA will continue to work with other government partners to provide succour including food and non-food items to affected people in the IDP camps and the host communities while building their resilience through livelihood supports, especially with the distribution of agricultural inputs and other livelihood items”.

Meanwhile, Director General of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, (NIHSA), Engr. Clement Nze gave an update on the water releases from the Cameroonian Lagdo Dam and present situation of flooding in Nigeria.

According to the update, there’s currently no cause for alarm, even as stakeholders in communities were urged to be on the alert.

Engr. Nze said that water releases from the Lagdo Dam were normal reservoir operations and the quantum of water released so far was negligible to cause any flooding in Nigeria.

The NIHSA Director General said that it was highly imperative to deploy high level of preparedness on the part of Federal and State governments (particularly, the Niger Delta region including: Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kebbi, Niger, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Cross-Rivers, Rivers).

Engr Nze said: “Citizens including all agencies and stakeholders that are charged with disaster response and reduction to step up action and put in place measures to mitigate and avert any eventual flood disaster.”

Speaking earlier, NEMA’s Director, Planning Research and Forecasting, Dr. Onimode Abdullahi Bandele said the meeting was convened to update and discuss with stakeholders from various sectors, issues surrounding the release of water from the Lagdo dam as well as the present flood situation in the country.

Bandele solicited for their meaningful contributions in order to chart the way forward to address possible challenges.

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