Thursday, September 5, 2013

Working against Flood Disaster

The unprecedented flood disaster in the nation’s history last year has brought in its wake some good omen. The National Disaster Recovery Strategy/Framework is a policy measure being put together to withstand future emergencies with the support of the UNDP. Godwin Haruna writes

Nigeria’s response to emergencies has always been called into question. Most often, during emergencies in the country, the response is neither coordinated nor prompt enough and this has resulted in large-scale destruction and suffering of the affected people. A case in point was Nigeria’s worst flooding disaster last year, which swept across 22 states of the federation and left many homeless during and after the ugly incident. 

Nigeria lost over N2.6 trillion to the huge flood that swept through several states and affected over 7 million people in 2012 according to statistics released by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). 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 (US$9.6 billion) while the total value of losses across all sectors of economic activity was estimated at N1.1 trillion (US$7.3 billion).

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. Experts have agreed that the disaster profile of the country provides the context for recovery programming.

Therefore, to fulfill its statutory mandate to coordinate the management of all emergencies in the country, the Nigeria Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) has developed various policy and programming instruments to guide disaster risk and emergency management. Last week in Abuja 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.

Speaking at the event, UNDP lead consultant, Prof. Seth Vordzorgbe, 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 good framework as a compass in place. He noted that Nigeria’s success in this regard is Africa’s success while its failure could spell doom for the rest of Africa. According to him, there were existing policies and institutions on disaster management in the country, but there are not operationalised. 

“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: “This is the most recent framework. The issue is operationalisation if the resources are there”.

He added that the framework also set 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.

Vordzorgbe counseled that the two plans should be vigorously pursued and the communities should be involved. He posited that since the project was designed to benefit communities, they must be allowed to participate in the process.

Earlier in his goodwill message to the meeting, Deputy Country Director Programmes, UNDP, Mr. Bernardo Coco said the two documents are a direct offshoot of the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report that was conducted with support of 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.

Coco stated further: “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 the six Nigerian universities centres for disaster management as a critical part of the human recovery needs assessment (HRNA)”. 

Coco noted that cconsultations are already ongoing on developing a DRR project which would be implemented by NEMA. Speaking in an interview with journalists, he said he was impressed working in the country to contribute to its development. Just about two months old in the country, Coco expressed huge optimism for the development path the country is charting. He congratulated the director general of NEMA for his foresight and leadership which has resulted in the development of these strategic documents andalso assured him of UNDP’s continued support in their implementation, going forward.

Also speaking, NEMA’s DG, Alhaji Muhammed Sana Sidi said the imperativeness of the meeting could not be overemphasised given the backdrop of the 2012 unprecedented flood in the country. Represented by the acting Director of Training of the Authority, Mr. Daniel Balarabe Gambo, the director general noted that the experience of last year was a wake-up call for NEMA and her 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,” he said.

According to Sidi, these include, National Disaster Response Plan (NDRP), National Disaster Management Framework 2010 (NDMF) and draft 2012 National Action Plan for Emergency Preparedness and Response/Disaster Risk Reduction in Nigeria 2013-2015 (NAP). He said the final copy of NDRSF would certainly build on and complements the NDRP, NDMF and the draft NAP.

“Thus, the objectives, which the NDRSF is set to achieve are as follows: provide a holistic and integrated approach to recovery; promote a common frame of reference for stakeholders involved in ensuring recovery from emergencies; develop a shared understanding of the multi-agency framework for emergency recovery at the local level and the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and finally, propose a common understanding of the role of local, sub-national and national levels in disaster recovery response, and how they will work together,” the director general stated.

He reiterated that the outcome of the meeting would address disasters of all kinds and sources, including those caused by natural hazards, conflicts and technological hazards. Also, he said it addressed all levels of emergencies, whether it is a major presidentially-declared disaster or a non-presidentially declared incident.

Sidi 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.

Earlier in his welcome address, Deputy Director, Disaster Risk Reduction, NEMA, Alhaji Sambo Baffale stated that the relevance of the meeting was borne out of the desire to resolve the scourge of disasters in the country. He said the meeting was timely in order to prepare to confront future challenges in disaster management.

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