NEMA Takes Disaster Management to Local Government

NEMA intensifies efforts in creating more awareness in disaster management to the first responders in the communities. The Agency in collaboration with The British High Commission and the Bournemouth University Disaster Management Centre embark on the first formal Executive Seminar on Disaster Management for the Local Government officials – Chairmen, Vice Chairmen and Directors in order to equip them with requisite knowledge on how to explore, discuss strategies and tactical issues in Disaster Management in Lagos.

The Director-General NEMA, AVM Mohammed Audu-Bida (rtd) represented by Mrs. Clem Aisueni, Director Training said that the central focus of this exercise is to establish and strengthen coordination, collaboration and cooperation between and among stakeholders and the three tiers of government, in addition to planning, building, sustaining and improving the country,s capability to prepare, reduce risks and respond to natural or man-made disasters.

Mrs. Aisueni on behalf of the DG added that the active participation of the executives in the seminar will enable them clearly understand the concept of disaster management and apply the knowledge in facilitating a faster response to disaster in their respective communities. Stating that vulnerability is often more pronounced at the community levels and disaster more often than not does not warn before it occurs. As such, the seminar is sine qua non as the target audience-the LG Executives are strategic and, also play critical roles in the communities as the first responders in the case of any disaster.

The NEMA Boss further reiterated the imperativeness of deploying all available resources in order to achieve maximum benefits in the disaster management efforts of the Agency, stating that the socio-economic cost of managing disaster over the years have increased. Especially owing to the imbalance that is attendant to the global climate change problem.

However, the seminar is set to share information on how to integrate the institutional plans into the budgets, formulate policies and coordinate these activities, coupled with risk assessment which has to do with the impact of developmental programmes on the vulnerability of the citizenry. Represented at the seminar are some Chairmen/LG Officials, some States Emergency Management Agencies “ Lagos (LASEMA) Edo, Delta, Enugu, Anambra and Bayelsa states. Present also are Lt. Cdr. Momodou Badjie (Gambia Navy), Lt. Cdr. Abdon Sene (Senegal Navy), Christian Valentin Faye (Senegalese Army) and Ansuamana S. Knubally an official of the Gambian Government.

The seminar is further positioned to engender a collaborative effort that will address the root causes of disasters as well as reduce their impact in our communities with the mindset of achieving the internationally accepted standards and practices.

Mr. Richard Gordon, Director Bournemouth University Disaster Management Centre, UK with his Deputy Mr. Michael Evans were all in attendance working in collaboration with the Agency as trainers in the seminar to initiate a proactive measure to avoid or mitigate disaster at the community level.

Meanwhile in another development as part of its effort to heighten preparedness on emergency management at all levels embarks on a National Contingency Plan for the country, NEMA called a multi-stake holding forum in Abuja to chart the way forward on emergency management for the country.

The Director-General NEMA AVM Audu-Bida (rtd) represented by Dr. Charles Agbo, Director Planning, Research and Forecasting of the Agency said that the contingency plan is imperative in order to share ideas and rub minds among the stakeholders to plan ahead in order to mitigate, reduce and prepare for emergency.

The NEMA Boss said “while we as a nation joined the rest of the world to grieve with the Haitians and support them in this moment of need, the country must bear in mind that with the experience of Haiti, it is crucial we strengthen our preparation to ensure that in times of disaster of similar magnitude anywhere in Nigeria, appropriate systems, procedures and resources are in place to assist those afflicted to enable them recover fast.”

Audu-Bida further reiterated that there is a need to look at the existing system, procedures and resources with a view to developing an appropriate and sustainable contingency plan to address some of the emerging challenges as exhibited by the Haitian earthquake. In a bid to re-emphasize the imperativeness of the contingency plan, he stated that while many may think that a catastrophe of the Haitian quake or the Asian Tsunami may never happen in Nigeria and thus it will be a waste of resources preparing for it, it is good to borrow a word from the former American president Dwight D. Eisenhower summation, “I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is INDISPENSABLE.” However, there is alternative to planning. Failure to plan is tantamount to planning to fail.

It was captured in his statement that in order to prepare adequately for emergency, to save lives and properties of Nigerians and environment, the Critical stakeholders developed the Search and Rescue and Epidemic Evacuation Plan for Nigerians in 2008 (SAREEP) which was signed by 18 Heads of Search and Rescue organizations in the country to spell out each stakeholder’s responsibilities in the case of emergency, however, with the contingency plan, it is to go a step beyond the existing framework.

Represented at the programme were critical stakeholders like UNICEF, NCC, MoWH&UD, MoH, USAID, SEMA’s, and the members of the Armed forces, Civil Defence, FRSC, Fire Service and other others.
 

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