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Review of contingency plan: NEMA stresses need for proactive disaster management

By Charles Onyekwere

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has stressed the need for stakeholders in disaster management to marshal out proactive disaster management plans and systems to reduce losses during disaster or emergencies.

The Director-General of NEMA, Mr Mustapha Ahmed, said this in an address at a workshop on Review of the National Contingency Plan for Nigeria (Sub-National Level) holding in Enugu.

The 60 participants for the three-day workshop, were drawn from disaster/emergency stakeholders in South-East and South-South regions (three states from South-East and four states from South-South).

Ahmed, represented by the NEMA South-East Coordinator, Mr Thickman Tanimu, said that it was universal fact that “preparedness before occurrence of disaster helps to a large extent to reduce both human and property losses.”

According to him, efficient organisation and detailed plan help to mitigate the impact of disasters and also lead to early recovery and rebuilding of the affected segment of the society.

“It is in the light of this, that NEMA, in collaboration with UNICEF, is reviewing the National Contingency Plan for the country at the sub-national level.

“The review strategy adopted is bottom-up, with a consultative and participatory approach; hence, the calibre of stakeholders present in this workshop,” he said.

The director-general appreciated UNICEF for making the workshop a reality and participants that came from states within the regions adding: “I charge participants to make useful contributions to enrich the working document.”

The Health Specialist, UNICEF Enugu Field Office, Dr Olufemi Adeyemi, said that the participants, who are disaster stakeholders, were drawn based on the country-wide risk analyses done last year by UNICEF.

Adeyemi said that the participants were from states within the two regions that had “very high risk” on a series of different disaster issues such as flooding, cholera and communal violence among others.

He said: “The participants were also drawn from different sectors such as health; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), environment and we also brought in lead agencies on various emergencies from the national level here as well as NEMA.

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“The idea is for us to draw up a contingency response plan in these prioritized mentioned areas of disasters.

“Although, we always pray that disaster does not happen, it is, however, necessary and good we are proactive by preparing for them.

“We want the participants, who are stakeholders from states and field of disaster management at the sub-national level, to contribute to and own the contingency plan document. This document will be presented at the national level for validation.”

Contributing, the Emergency Specialist in UNICEF, Mr Yinka Afolabi, said that UNICEF, NEMA and its partners wanted to achieve a bottom-up approach to contingency planning by getting the states (sub-nationals) more committed to addressing disaster issues within their localities.

“We want the states to domesticate this contingency plan and use it to act or even hold their state government accountable and see what they can do in terms of appropriate actions and materials needed in emergency disasters.

“We are looking at a situation that the state will take lead action on local emergency situations; the Federal Government through NEMA and other partners can come in and fill up the gap they cannot easily fill,” Afolabi said.

He said that participants would look into mitigating the effect of disasters, specifically to know how to deal with children, aged people, livelihood, water, sanitation and hygiene issues when disasters occur and to check poverty that comes with disasters.

The workshop is being organized by UNICEF, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and NEMA.

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