Message By NEMA DG At 2021 Annual Flood Outlook Public Presentation

GOODWILL MESSAGE BY AVM MUHAMMADU. MUHAMMED (RTD), DIRECTOR GENERAL NATIONAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY AT THE PUBLIC PRESENTATION OF THE 2021 ANNUAL FLOOD OUTLOOK (AFO) AND STAKEHOLDERS’ WORKSHOP 6TH MAY, 2021 AJUJI HOTEL, ABUJA

It is my honour and pleasure to be here to deliver a goodwill message at the Public Presentation of 2021 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) and stakeholders’ workshop. I congratulate the Honourable Minister of Water Resources, the Director General, the Management and Staff of Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency for the timely release of the 2021 Annual Flood Outlook.

Over the years, the National Emergency Management Agency has enjoyed a robust partnership with the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency as one of the critical stakeholders in disaster management. NIHSA’s Annual Flood Outlooks have been a veritable tool for NEMA in flood preparedness, mitigation and response since 2013.

The year 2021 has presented another opportunity of our collaboration with Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency in the area of information and data sharing.

Honourable Minister, ladies and gentlemen, we value our collaboration with our partners and ready to strengthen the multi-agency approach to disaster risk reduction. To enhance flood forecasting and management in Nigeria, NEMA is currently supporting NIHSA in establishing three Automatic Weather Observation Stations which are at various stages of installation located in Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti and Federal University of Kashere, Gombe State. These stations will be used not only for hydrological predictions but also to train students in the field of Geography, Engineering, Agriculture, meteorology, climate change and other sciences.

NEMA has always utilized the Annual Flood Outlook from NIHSA to develop Early Warning Messages for the provision of timely and effective information to stakeholders and communities in reducing the risk of flood. Recent trends have revealed that the community is emerging as the most powerful in the entire hierarchy of disaster management. In the event of actual disasters, the community, if well aware of the preventive actions required to be taken, can substantially mitigate the impact of disasters.

To bring this to bear, NEMA will ensure all States and communities vulnerable to flood received warning through community engagement, Television programmes and Information, Education & Communication materials among others.

In the last one year, COVID-19 Pandemic has reduced States and communities’ abilities to cope with climate induced disasters, thus imposing more burden on Federal Government Agencies to mitigate and respond to disasters.

However, despite the gloomy nature of the pandemic, presenting a case of disaster within a disaster, our advocacy and engagement with stakeholders in 2020 led to reduction in the negative impacts of flood on the people. A total of 2,353,647 people were affected by 2020 flood disaster, but 69 lives were lost compared with the 158 lives but only 277,555 affected in 2019.

As usual, NEMA in collaboration with relevant stakeholders will step down the information in the 2021 Annual Flood Outlook to all States and vulnerable communities to ensure we prepare and mitigate flood disaster this year.

Honourable Minister, one of the lessons learnt during the 2020 flood after action review meeting is the need for proper utilization of our dams in the country. When dams meant for irrigation purpose are used for dry season agriculture, they acquire more capacities to hold more water in the rainy season. In addition, a timely controlled release of water from dams will reduce panic release of water during rainy season that can lead to further flooding.

As noted by Kofi Annan former UN Secretary General, “Building the culture of prevention is not easy. While the costs of prevention have to be paid in the present, its benefits lie in the distant future. Moreover, the benefits are not tangible; they are the disasters that did not happen”

Finally, I once again congratulate the Honourable Minister and the DG NIHSA for the presentation of the 2021 Annual Flood Outlook.

Thank you and God bless.