UN Hails NEMA’s Efforts on risk reduction campaign

(ARUSHA, Tanzania ) United Nations Office for the Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has acknowledged the efforts of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in creating public awareness towards Disaster Risk Reduction strategies.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction (SRSG) and UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström made the acknowledgement at the 4th Africa Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Arusha, Tanzania.

Commenting on the loss of 363 lives in the massive flood disaster of 2012 in Nigeria, a country of about 170 million people, Margareta said “We are aware of aggressive campaigns by NEMA Nigeria on disaster risk reduction. The efforts are encouraging and their proactive measures are commendable but the country needs to move beyond Early Warning to Early Action this year to consolidate on the success of the campaigns.”

Ms. Wahlström said: “Disaster risk reduction is centre stage for all African countries and is essential to building resilience to disasters.  The will to mitigate the impact of disasters is evident across the continent from the ongoing detailed risk profiling of every district in Ethiopia to the successful early warning systems which Mozambique demonstrated in recent weeks as flood waters engulfed large parts of the country.”

Speaking on Nigeria”s preparation for the anticipated heavy rainfall in some parts of the country this year, the Director General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani-Sidi said: “In line with the Hyogo Framework for Action and the Africa Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy and Programme of Action we have initiated more consultations with respective institutions in ensuring that needs to be done is done to avoid preventive calamities this year. This year will witness more capacity buildings of response agencies and volunteers and probably heavy sanctions and penalties for those found wanting. We have no reason to tolerate failures.”

He added that: “we will continue to reach out to the media, having recognized their importance as the major stakeholders in the implementation of disaster risk reduction activities. While we have created some platforms to engage with the increasing online citizens in Nigeria, we have sustained our relationship with various spectrum of media including the electronic, online and print in our advocacy for disaster resilient cities.”

Also at a special media workshop for mostly South and East African media at the 4th Africa Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction , the Head of Public Relations of NEMA, , supported by an ICT Consultant, Tom Obey demonstrated how NEMA as an agency of government used various media channels to inform and update on major disasters in the country in 2012.

said “the greatest weapon for a success of any public spirited programme is sincerity of purpose and mutual relationship with the media. Though were various challenges response and efforts, we issued truthful, responsible and prompt information to the media especially the Dana plane crash saga, suicide bombings and devastating flood.”

Shuaib added that “online banners, radio jingles, TV documentaries and bulk SMS were also utilised in deliberate efforts to reach wider targeted audience.”

The 4th Africa Regional Platform concluded at the weekend with a detailed set of commitments and recommendations on the complex challenges Africa faces due to surging economic , rapid urbanisation, climate change and a wide range of natural hazards.  Participants at the conference who came from 40 countries across Africa made contributions on shaping the international framework for disaster risk reduction which will follow on from the current Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) which expires in 2015.

The UNISDR Chief,  Margareta Wahlström is expected in Nigeria in June 2013 to meet with stakeholders and media on the impact of disaster risk reduction strategies in country. She will also seek the support of private sector in the drive.



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