COVID-19 protocols will compound flood disaster management in Nigeria – NEMA.

The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), AVM Muhammadu Muhammed (retd), has said that managing flood disaster will be a herculean task this year, as COVID-19 pandemic is compounding problems of households across the country.

Addressing the media Friday in Abuja on plans by the Agency for the 2020 flood preparedness, mitigation and response in Nigeria and the presentation of a document entitled “Disaster Risk Management Implication of 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction”, Muhammed said that “2020 is going to be a year of ‘an incident within an incident’,” revealing that NEMA has taken preparatory steps in mitigating the likely impact of floods, including setting up committees, holding workshops for stakeholders, starting sensitisation campaigns for vulnerable communities to undertake mitigation actions and prepare for evacuation to safer ground, among others.

He said: “According to the World Health Organisation, between 1998-2017, floods affected more than 2 billion people worldwide and 80-90% of all documented disasters from natural hazards, during the past 10 years, have resulted from floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, heat waves and severe storms. Nigeria has experienced its own share of flood disaster over the years, leading to loss of lives and destruction of valuables every year.

“In 2018, devastating floods occurred in more than twelve states of the federation. The floods affected 2,321,592 people, killed 199 people and displaced 722,741 people. Also, 4,107 people were injured, with a total of 100,190 houses destroyed.

“Similarly, our record shows that in 2019, 130,934 people were affected by floods, while 48,114 persons were displaced and 126 people were killed. It also damaged 29,356 houses. Unfortunately, 2020 is going to be a year of ‘an incident within an incident’. With the Country battling Covid-19 pandemic, managing a flood disaster will be a herculean task.

“The Nigerian Meteorological Agency and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency released the 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction and the 2020 Annual Flood Outlook, respectively. According to the 2020 predictions, the general outlook of annual rainfall amount is predicted to be normal to above normal in Nigeria, thus some places are expected to have above normal rainfall which may result into floods in 2020.

“Correspondingly, the 2020 Annual Flood Outlook forecasted flooding in some parts of the country where 102 LGAs in 28 States fall within the Highly Probable Flood Risk areas, while 275 LGAs in the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT, fall within the Moderately Probable Flood Risk areas. The remaining 397 LGAs fall within the Low Probable Flood Risk areas. These predictions are expected to have impact on various sectors, including agriculture, water resources, health, transport and infrastructure.

“The protocols of Covid-19 emphasize physical distancing and the use of face masks. If the flood leads to the displacement of people, they may need to be sheltered in IDP camps, where people will be in close contact. With the already overstretched health infrastructure, this will lead to a complex humanitarian situation.

“In the light of the above, all hands must therefore be on deck to ensure that we prepare well to mitigate the impact of the predicted 2020 flooding, even in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic.

“I therefore enjoin all stakeholders to take advantage of the document produced by NEMA (Disaster Risk Management Implication of 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction) in guiding actions that will mitigate the negative impacts of the rainfall prediction and flood outlook in various Sectors. Nigerians are also enjoined to ensure that drainages are well cleared while taking other precautionary measures.”

- Courtesy Blueprint.

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