The Federal Capital Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has begun a thorough assessment of flood prone areas to prevent flood disaster that could lead to loss of lives and property in the territory.
The Director-General of FEMA, Alhaji Abbas Idriss, at the inauguration of the exercise at Galadima roundabout in Abuja on Wednesday said that importance of flood prevention could not be over emphasized.
Idriss noted that FEMA did not believe in distributing relief materials but in preventing disaster in line with the United Nations programme on disaster management. He also stated that the mandate of the agency was purely to manage human and material resources with a view to fighting any kind of disaster in the territory.
He explained that the 2021 rainfall climate prediction recently released by the Nigeria Metrological Agency (NiMet) had revealed that there was going to be normal to above normal rain fall patterns.
Idriss said that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had never experienced that type of rainfall for the past 10 years, adding that it was expected that the rainfall in the part of the country was going to start between May and June.
“The rain we see now is not meant for planting, farmers shouldn’t plant because of this rain that they are seeing, they have to wait. I am sure agriculture extension workers and the Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat should take note that the rain is not meant for farming.
”The crops that are expected for this year are going to be for a short period of time. Rain will come between June and it will stop in October.
”So we should select the kind of crops that we are going to plant within that period so that we don’t plant ones that will require rain up to November or December to avoid food insecurity,” he said.
Idriss said that once there was food insecurity, the country would find itself in a major disaster, adding, ”today, we have food available in the market, we are only complaining of money to buy.
”There could be a situation whereby you have the money but there is no food to buy, that is what we are trying to avoid,” he said.
Idriss disclosed that FEMA had carried out needs assessment immediately after the 2020 flood disaster which claimed the lives of seven people in FCT.
He said that the agency discovered that some areas needed to be taken care of by the Development Control Department or Satellite Towns Department or Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB).
”And that is the reason why we are here. We will go round the territory and take stocks of those areas. There is an area that we saw very close to the city, the Life camp roundabout.
”If you go there, you will not be able to see the end of the tunnel because it is blocked completely with sands and many plastic bottles in that area,” he said.
Idriss said that there were also other areas where some people either built on the waterways or divert the waterways.
He revealed that the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, last week received a complaint that somebody was diverting the waterways.
”And by the time we went there, we saw caterpillars diverting the waterways to another paths, leaving his area where he wants to build illegally.
”So a lot of activities are going on in the city which are causing flooding and at the end of the day, we now put blames on the government,” he said.
The director-general, therefore, called for a collective responsibility by all residents of the FCT to prevent flooding in the territory. He said that already the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency had predicted flooding this year but it had not come out with the outlook to show which area councils in the FCT that would be affected.
”As we wait for the full details of that, we have to prepare to mitigate flooding in the FCT.”
The Flood Assessment team led by Florence Wenegieme, Deputy Director, Forecasting Response and Mitigation, visited Angwa Dodo and Giri Community in Gwagwalada Area Council, Trademo Estate and Dogon Gada.
Wenegieme said the assessment would enable FEMA and other relevant agencies to know the condition of the areas to be able to mitigate flood disaster.