Women Seek Better Plans For Incoming Flood
Written by Constance Peju
As Nigerians begin a countdown to the flood forecast for this year, women in areas affected by flood last year have expressed worries that not much is being done to address the flood in Rivers State.
The women who were participants at a one-day stakeholders meeting to examine possible ways of mitigating the impact if and when the flood arrives, organized by a gender focused non governmental- organization, in anticipation of the impending flood, Kebetkache Women Resource Development Centre, lamented that the flood took them unaware last year and the fear of a repeat has caused them not to farm while some who lost their houses to the flood are still squatting because they are yet to rebuild their homes.
They lamented that women especially nursing mothers, the elderly and children suffered most and called for gender sensitivity in planning for the in-coming flood.
‘Arrangement was poor last year. We had no warning and we lost everything but they just gave us two thousand naira and sent us out of the camp. Since then nobody has come to us. We are suffering, people are dying daily. I wonder if we can survive another flood’, a worried Budezi Uturu from Ahoada West lamented.
Declaring the meeting which held at the lecture hall of Social Action, D/line Port Harcourt, the executive director of Kebetkache Ms Emem Okon said the meeting which drew membership from 2012 flood impacted community members, related civil society organisations and media, was aimed at finding out what needs to be done and by who to avoid the scale of calamity that shook the region following the flood last year.
”You are carefully selected participants as flood affected and related stakeholders. Nobody expected the degree of flood we had last year. We do not know how people are coping now as camps were hurriedly shut after the floods. Not much is known as to how flood victims are coping.
“We are looking for how to handle the already forecast flood, to understand what is being done and who should do what. So this is an experience/ideas sharing, networking meeting. Everybody has a role to help reduce possible impact of the flood if it comes as we cannot expect government to do everything”, she stated.
Presenting a paper on ‘Capacity for Efficient Community Based Disaster Management’, Bridget Osakwe Usifo, a disaster mitigation expert explained that natural disasters have in the last decade, affected more than a quarter of the world’s population and has become more frequent as a result of climate change.
“In the last five years an average of 296 million people have been affected by nature induced disasters each year, 106 million yearly by flood and 145 million by drought….Between 2000 and 2010, over 2.5 billion people were affected by natural disaster worldwide.
“Each year, six times more people are affected by natural disasters. Disasters are increasing in frequency and impact ” she explained.
According to her, the 2012 flood which affected white water, affected 7.7 million people and displaced ,2,157,419 persons and about 300 people died in the disaster while about 30 per cent of the Nigerian farmland was submerged in water making it one of the worst humanitarian crisis according to NEMA.
With Nigeria more at risk than the global disaster at 30 per cent against the global 25 per cent rate making it important for flood prone communities to disabuse their minds of floods obeying old patterns.
Lagos State was listed as already working to mitigate the effect of the impending flood as Usifo challenged communities and stakeholders to begin to do what needs to be done to avoid colossal damage by flood.
At the end of deliberations, a number of resolutions were adopted including a call on government to clear all waterways across the state so the mass of water coming from the flood will have room to flow and to urgently set up the state emergency and relief agency to work effectively with the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.
Women came from Ahoada East, Abua/Odual, Ahoada West and Ogba/Ndoni Local government areas.