Floods: Need For Efficient Emergency Services


As floods continue to ravage Nigeria, leaving behind deaths and devastation, many are asking: “where are our emergency services?”

In recent weeks and days, many people have been killed, many communities have been submerged, millions rendered homeless, children sacked from schools and entire farmlands have been washed away by the ravaging floods across the country.

The most devastated states are Kogi, Jigawa, Plateau, Adamawa, Edo, Delta or Cross River states where displaced millions now live in refugee camps after losing all their livelihood. In Plateau state, at least 28 persons were reported killed recently when floods ravaged villages in the southern part of the state. About a hundred communities and over a thousand houses were said to have been affected by the flooding in that state alone. Hundreds of houses and bridges linking the area with Lafia, capital of Nassarawa State and Taraba State were swept away by the flood waters.

Days ago, nineteen persons were reported killed in Koto-Karfe area of Kogi and some parts of Jigawa State. The situation is the same in other parts of the country with daily deaths, grief and devastation.

The statistics are unknown but it is believed that hundreds of people have lost their lives due to floods across Nigeria this year alone. This is unacceptable. Things cannot continue to degenerate this ugly way and the Federal Government is just coming to terms with this monumental tragedy.

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No one can prevent natural occurrences from happening, but they can be controlled and properly managed. With proper information, adequate preparation, training, intervention and assistance, many lives could have and could still be saved.

To be fair to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, alerts were issued for people to move far away from River Niger and the Benue flood plain. Some of them did not listen and perished. As Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, lnformation Officer, NEMA, South West, explained, the major problem is that of shallow or non-existing drainage system. Most northern states’ cities have earth dams that have been in existence for over 50 years. These dams are used for irrigation and animal husbandry but residential houses have surrounded the facilities. They have now closed or are filled up.

NEMA had been appealing to states and local government authorities to close up these facilities in vain. Lack of political will to enforce town planning rules and the fear of not offending the electorate who voted leaders by removing obstructing buildings on water ways contributed to this current disaster.

Pseudo religious beliefs that God would prevent bad things from happening do not allow people to be conscious of disaster risk reduction as raised by NEMA. Emergency management is a security matter, states and local councils should give priority to the establishment of effective and efficient structures that can complement NEMA’s efforts. Above all, flooding is one of the most dreadful killers especially flash flooding and little can be done if people refuse to comply with directions from relevant agencies.

Climate change is the major cause of extreme weather. It has been on for long but it is intense these days because of human activities. The destruction of ecological system, especially release of carbon monoxide and other deadly chemicals that are not healthy for humans and our environment contribute to this. Even as natural as this is, there must be conscious efforts by everybody to mitigate such disasters and reduce human casualties.

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