Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State says the state has already set-up and is working out an emergency response plan to mitigate any possible flooding in the state.
Ugwuanyi revealed this in Enugu on Wednesday when he received a national delegation of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) who paid a Flood Advocacy Visit to Enugu State.
The NEMA delegation also paid a similar Flood Advocacy Visit to the 103 Battalion Akwunanaw in Enugu, which had been designated the Disaster Response Unit (DRU) of the state.
Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Executive Secretary to Enugu State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mrs Nkechi Eneh, said that the state had received tremendous human and material support from NEMA in terms of capacity building, training and relief materials.
The governor said that the state records cases of flooding yearly with huge negative impacts, adding that the state was aware of the 2020 flooding as predicted by the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) and Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMeT).
“As part of the ongoing implementation of the state’s emergency response plan to mitigate flooding and its devastating impact; we have engaged the council chairmen and their various chairmen of the Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs) to embark on the following;
“Organise flood sensitization campaign in communities most likely to be impacted and we have engaged in massive desilting of drainages to allow free flow of water (Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority did the desilting of the metropolis).
“Put in place mechanism and sensitisation to discourage dumping of refuse inside water channels and removal of water hyacinths or weeds from water channels to allow free flow of water,’’ he said.
The governor also said that the state through its SEMA developed and aired flood jingles in all the radio stations to residents on the dangers of flooding and precautionary measures to be taken in case of flooding in local language.
“Trained some stakeholders from various emergency response organisations in the state on first aid management and made plans to provide safe drinking water for those that would be affected,’’ he said.
Ugwuanyi also noted that the State Ministry of Health was already working on mechanisms to prevent public health hazards from flooding this 2020 by providing emergency drugs for women and children affected by flooding.
“Mass immunisation of children in the 10 council areas predicted to be impacted by NIHSA through Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency (ENS-PHCDA) and acquiring mobile toilets through the state Ministry of Environment among others,’’ he said.
The governor, however, appreciated the rare advocacy visit and engagement; while asking NEMA to do more for the state especially as it concerned relief for the 2018 Uzo-Uwani council area flooding, which affected 3500 hectares of farmlands and 2500 persons displaced.
Speaking, Lt.-Col. Yusuf Salisu, Commanding Officer of 103 Battalion, Akwunanaw, assured NEMA that officers and soldiers of the command are ready to attend to any emergency when called upon.
Salisu, who was represented by Major Benjamin Eze, noted that the confidence NEMA reposed in the command “is not misplaced’’.
“We are always ready and will respond at any day or hour when we are called upon as part of the national Disaster Reaction Units (DRUs).
“We thank the Agency, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army and the military authorities for the singular honour of making the battalion a DRU unit,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Director-General of NEMA, AVM Muhammadu Muhammed (rtd), called on the state to activate all contingency and emergency flood plans especially sensitisation and preparation of all stakeholders.
Muhammed, who was represented by Mr James Eze, NEMA Team Leader of the Advocacy Visit, urged the state government to take proactive flood mitigation plans like opening of drains and waterways/canals and begin a massive flood sensitisation in communities.
The NEMA boss also urged the government to identify high grounds and appeal to its residents in lowland and flood plains to relocate to such places and open effective communication between it and NEMA.
“There is a need to stock SEMA warehouses to enable swift reaction to supply food and non-food items to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) prior to NEMA and other stakeholders’ intervention,’’ he said.
It was gathered that in Enugu State, highly probably flood risk council areas included; Enugu East, Udi, Nsukka, Enugu North, Enugu South and Oji-River; while the probable flood low risk council areas are; Igbo-Etiti. Ezeagu, Uzo-Uwani and Nkanu East.
It would be recalled that the NIHSA and NiMeT had predicted that there would be torrential rains in the country in September and October this year.
The agencies said that 102 council areas in 28 states falls within the highly probable flood risk areas; and 275 council areas in the 36 states of the Federation including the FCT are within the moderately/low probably flood risk areas.
Recently, NIHSA reported a disturbing growing level of water in the River Niger and other inland rivers and water bodies as well.