10 December 2012

Nigeria: Minister Calls for Integrated Approach to Flooding

The Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, on Monday called for an integrated mitigation approach towards proffering lasting solutions to flood incidents in the country.

Ochekpe made the call in Abuja, while urging synergy among water specialists at a conference organised by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) on the 2012 flood disasters.

Mitigation efforts are those measures adopted to reduce the adverse effects of climate change, while adaptation efforts are measures employed to live or manage with the effects in the long run.

Research and recent events indicate that climate change is also as a result of natural processes; the most significant shifts in the earth's temperature are caused by human activities, specifically by emissions into the atmosphere.

It is also caused by deforestation, agricultural conversion and unsustainable tourism.

Ochekpe said that the flooding experienced this year was unprecedented and the most devastating in the history of Nigeria, as not less than 34 states were affected.

She, therefore, urged experts in the water sector and other line ministries to brainstorm and proffer appropriate solutions, not only to tackle the problems already on ground, but also to advance strategic measures to avert future disasters.

"The impact of floods affected millions of people resulting in loss of lives, destruction of property, infrastructure worth several billions of naira and the displacement of a large number of communities across the country.

"It is important that we seek a holistic and integrated approach that will be comprehensive enough to proffer lasting solutions for all parts of the country," Ochekpe said.

The minister reiterated that the solutions sought after should be conceived in ways that recognised that preventive measures alone could not solve the problems of floods.

She said that rather, focus should be on how to mitigate and minimise the hazards.

Ochekpe also urged experts to come up with beneficial measures that would improve on the country's socio-economic activities and development.

"The 2012 floods and the hazards thus provide us an opportunity to critically examine our actions and preparedness for any such occurrences.

"Therefore, any flood event coming after 2012 should not catch us unawares or be allowed to unleash the same amount of devastation as experienced now," the minister said.

She explained that the ministry, as the apex national organ of government responsible for policy formulation and guidance in the water sector, had been proactive by creating the agency (NIHSA) in line with international best practice.

Ochekpe also commended President Goodluck Jonathan's prompt measures in providing succour for the affected areas through the two presidential committees set up to assess the extent of the flooding.

She further commended the Presidency for the N17 billion relief fund for the affected states and provision of N603 million for the agency for immediate replacement, rehabilitation of hydrological equipment across the country.

Similarly, a Water Specialist, Mr Shedrack Akolokwu, during his presentation at the conference, urged the Federal Government to build more earth dams to act as reservoirs to promote water harvesting in the country.

Akolokwu said these dams could also be used as a resource for fisheries, agricultural belts, grazing reserves, sanctuaries for wild life, resorts and new population centres. NAN

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