NiMet’s rainfall prediction: ‘How NAMA is preparing for possible flooding’

Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) the 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) which predicted near-normal to earlier than normal in most parts of Nigeria. Last year, amount of rainfall was predicted to reach 2,700mm and 2019 witnessed several flooding incidents. This year, NiMet has predicted rainfall amounts of up to 3,000mm. Ibrahim Farinloye, Acting Coordinator, Lagos Territorial Office, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said that NEMA is making preparations for possible flooding incidents this year.

“Unlike previous years we were able to get the seasonal rainfall prediction early. This has helped in planning for the year’s preparedness against any flooding or rainy season disasters. Based on this, states and local government authorities have been involved, and we are working with them. But unlike previous years when all of us will converge and only the officers will be trained on what is to be done, the Director-General this year said we need to change.

“Globally, there is a paradigm shift from being reactive to proactivity. Based on this, the DG has directed all NEMA officials not convene any meeting where only NEMA officials will be attending. We will go to the grassroot, direct to the people. Community-based and faith-based organisations and related NGOs that are purely grassroot based are mobilised and sensitised to create awareness on risk reduction.

He also said that traditional rulers and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) would be involved in flood mitigation plans.

According to him, “Traditional rulers at the grassroot they know what the problems are in their area; so, we are creating a sort of medium between them and NEMA. Some of them will pass through the State Emergency Management Authority.

“We are also using NYSC corps members who are posted to rural areas. At the rural level, these NYSC corps members are respected and any advice given to community members is usually respected. We are mobilising them. We have what we call National Emergency Management Volunteers for NYSC. We have trained them on identification of risk and how to communicate back to NEMA when they identify those risks.”

Farinloye said NEMA was working to modernise its risk reduction approach. “When NEMA studies the risk at hand, we will then adopt a modern system of risk reduction management and sensitise the community and empower them. Information is power. We will relate to the community modern ways of handling the same risk that they have been using traditional methods to manage in the past. Those traditional methods they have been using, we will not take it away from them, but we now make it more advanced to suit them.  This is a bottom-up approach to empower Nigerians and make them more disaster resilient.”

The NEMA official said there would trainings on how community groups can act as first responders when incidents occur. “We are coming out with grassroot emergency management volunteers where various organisations like the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), women societies, youth societies, will be involved. We select some of them in local governments and communities and train them on disaster management as first responders.

“Once they know what to do, they can contain that disaster from developing to a stage where they need external assistance. So once there is a disaster, they don’t need external bodies to come in. What you need to do is to go there, assess what has happened, and see if there are areas we can develop them to have more skills to handle such in future.”

He said DG would roll out letters to advise state and local governments, adding that “we have what is called flood abatement department in local governments. This department ought to have started expansion and clearance of drainages.

“Part of the agenda of the director general is that everything must get to the grassroot and straight to the people.

Are funds available? Farinloye said, “The Federal Government has made adequate provision for the financial preparedness, risk reduction and response.”

On manpower, he said, that “In disaster management, you have fire, flood and other weather-related disasters. Disasters are dynamic and due to the dynamism, all the units of NEMA and other related disaster management agencies at state and federal level, NEMA sponsors them on routine training and empowerment based on the dynamism of every disaster.”

The coordinator emphasised that disasters are not for FG alone to handle. “Disasters are not for the Federal Government alone, or the state government alone or local government alone,” he said.

“It is everybody’s task, and that is why the DG mandated all the zonal operational heads to go to the grassroot, mobilise the grassroot, and sensitise them. It is the grassroot that has more responsibility in disaster prevention, preparedness and management. They need to be prepared, they need to make enquiries.”

In need of information? The NEMA official said the agency engages regular media and social media, “especially the radio and newspaper, they are very effective tools in helping NEMA reach out to the grassroot. The national emergency line anywhere in the country is 112.”

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