Managing Emergencies in Nigeria

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Unlike in other countries, Nigeria is yet to have co-ordinated approach to emergency management

By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Sep. 9, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

MANAGING emergency is certainly one of the biggest challenges confronting Nigeria today. Anytime there is an emergency situation, there is usually no coordinated effort by the government and citizens to tackle the problem as it is done in other countries. The flood which ravaged many parts of the country in 2012 is a perfect example of the country’s inability to manage emergencies. More than one year after the floods, many people are still homeless and can’t return to their normal lives.

According to statistics obtained from the National Emergency Management Agency NEMA, it is Nigeria lost over N2.6 trillion to the 2012 flood which affected more than seven million people were affected. The agency said the comprehensive post disaster needs assessment conducted from November 2012 to March 2013, puts the estimated total value of infrastructure, physical and durable assets destroyed by the disaster at N1.5 trillion while the total value of losses across all sectors of economic activity was estimated at N1.1 trillion.

To guard against this huge loss in future, the federal government is preparing an implementable national plan to address such large-scale losses during emergencies. The National Disaster Strategy/Framework and 2012 Flood Recovery Plan is being undertaken with the support of the World Bank/Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Reconstruction, GFDRR, United Nations Systems, European Union, EU,  and other Development Partners in response to the 2012 flood disaster.

To fulfill its statutory mandate to coordinate the management of all emergencies in the country, NEMA has developed various policy and programming instruments to guide disaster risk and emergency management. With the support of the United Nations Development Programme,  UNDP, NEMA gathered stakeholders from across the spectrum of the society in Abuja to review and validate the National Disaster Recovery Strategy and Framework and the Nigeria 2012 Flood Recovery Action Plan.

At the event, Seth Vordzorgbe, UNDP lead consultant, said the time has come for the country to look at how it could recover from emergency. Vordzorgbe posited that Nigeria should lead the recovery project in Africa with a good framework as a compass. He noted that Nigeria’s success in this regard would be Africa’s success while its failure could spell doom for the rest of Africa. According to him, there are existing policies and institutions on disaster management in the country which are not being operated.

“The timing is good, the enthusiasm is there and the will of the government is strong and we can see that from the way we have a lot of participation from the states and other stakeholders. That goes down for its implementation if the resources are there. The country has put in place a process for recovery but they need to be activated. There is no concrete coordination for recovery, that is where the gap lies and the framework will address that”, he stated during an interview with journalists.

Vordzorgbe explained that the framework, which is the first of its kind in Africa, is for recovery. The framework also sets a holistic approach to finance disaster management and not funding which is limited to government alone. He said the private sector too has a role to play just like they did in the Presidential Task Force, which was set up following the 2012 flood disaster in the country.

Bernardo Coco deputy country director programmes, UNDP, who also spoke at the event, said the two documents are a direct offshoot of the post disaster needs assessment report that was conducted with support of the World Bank/Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Reconstruction, United Nations Systems, European Union and other development partners in response to the 2012 flood disaster.

“It is noteworthy that UNDP’s partnership with NEMA, indeed, predates the 2012 floods, and we have supported an institutional mapping of all ongoing efforts in DRR, the Nigeria Disaster Risk Reduction Capacity Assessment and the development of a National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction. In direct response to the floods, however, aside from coordinating the UN systems inputs into the PDNA, it also supported the preliminary humanitarian assessment, undertook a community consultation and validation surveys in partnership with six Nigerian universities centres for disaster management as a critical part of the human recovery needs assessment.”

On his part, Muhammed Sidi NEMA’s DG, said the imperativeness of the meeting could not be overemphasised given the backdrop of the 2012 unprecedented flood in the country. Represented by Daniel Gambo, acting director of training, the director general noted that the experience of last year was a wake-up call for NEMA and its stakeholders to fashion out lasting workable guidelines of operations towards disaster risk reduction and improving the national resilience.

“It may be interesting to note that one of the strategic priorities of the Agency is to reposition the country by providing a solid foundation and frameworks for building a national and community resilience to reduce all related disaster risks towards actualising the gains of any developmental strides aimed at total transformation for rapid socio-economic development of our great country. To achieve this strategic objective therefore, NEMA has developed various policy frameworks and programme instruments to guide disaster risk and emergency management. This national approach to emergency preparedness, response and recovery is contained in three programme documents for disaster management in the country,” Sidi said.

Sidi also assured that the Agency was fully committed to seeking ways of improving the quality of disaster risk management service delivery in the country. “The Agency is always prepared to welcome any innovative idea that can bring about excellent disaster preparedness and mitigation process,” he stated.

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