Helping Nigerians fight floods

Mar 13, 2013

Cecilia Ameh, a mother of four, was among over seven million Nigerians affected by the severe floods which swept through the country last year. At least 363 persons died. Although no one died in her family in Makurdi (north central Nigeria), their house was damaged – one of the 597,476 houses damaged or destroyed by the floods. Mrs. Ameh and her family are still trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. And she is still very apprehensive, as the floods have started building up again this year.

The Nigerian government authorities, working with the support of UNDP and other UN agencies, have taken various steps to ensure that what happened last year did not repeat itself this year. The Federal Government has adopted a National Disaster Recovery Strategy/Framework and Flood Recovery Action Plan, prepared with the assistance of UNDP and other stakeholders. The strategy and action plan will help the authorities to check the incidences of floods in the future – and also to assist the citizens in reducing the effects of floods when they do occur.

With support from the World Bank/Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Reconstruction (GFDRR), the United Nations Systems, the European Union (EU) and other development partners, the Federal Government conducted a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) of the 2012 flood disaster from November to December, 2012.

The PDNA helped to understand the effects and impacts of the 2012 floods, and to estimate the financial requirements to overcome the impacts of the disaster. Various stakeholders reviewed both the National Disaster Recovery Strategy and Framework and the Nigeria 2012 Floods Recovery Action Plan for subsequent approval and implementation by the government authorities. UNDP coordinated the inputs of the UN agencies to these initiatives to check floods and their impacts in Nigeria.

The UNDP Deputy Country Director Bernardo Cocco, said UNDP’s support to the development of the Action Plan was “part of a broader strategic response to addressing the challenges of disaster management in Nigeria”.

The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mallam Sani Sidi, explained that the document was prepared against the backdrop of the 2012 unprecedented flood that caused widespread devastation in several states of the country.  “That experience served as a wakeup call for NEMA and her stakeholders to fashion out lasting workable guidelines of operations towards disaster risk reduction and improving our national resilience.”

In addition to the technical support in conducting the assessment and developing the national flood disaster strategy, the UN agencies have also provided financial support to supplement the efforts of the government.The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) recently approved the sum of USD$ 6.5 Million as part of the UN support to the Government of Nigeria’s efforts to address the humanitarian needs from the 2012 floods crisis in Nigeria. The CERF supported the provision of humanitarian assistance to 500,000 of the flood affected people in the hard hit states. The fund targeted critical areas like health and nutrition, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, livelihoods, as well as the provision of basic non food items to the most vulnerable internally displaced families.

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