State governments in Osun, Ondo and Ekiti say proactive measures are being taken to avert flood disasters in 2023 in the wake of flooding projection for the year by Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet.
The governments solicited the support of the people to maintain a clean environment and refrain from dumping of waste in drains and waterways.
In separate interviews, officials of the states, stakeholders, and residents were all unanimous that warnings by some federal government agencies of possible flooding in some states in the South-West region must not be taken with levity so as not to suffer human and material loss.
The Osun Ministry of Environment and Sanitation, says it has taken proactive measures to avert incidents of flood disaster in the state well before warnings by agencies of the federal government of possible flooding in some states in the South-West region.
Tunde Odesanmi, the Director of Flood in the ministry, said that all structures along waterways in the state have been removed and the ministry regularly carries out dredging of streams to prevent them overflowing their banks during the rainy season.
“The state government just finished the first phase of dry season dredging and this is part of the proactive steps the government is taking to prevent flooding,” he said..
Mr Odesanmi said that the ministry had compiled lists of streams and rivers to be dredged ahead of the rainy season, adding that the ministry’s blueprint to mitigate flood disaster in the state will soon be presented to a committee set up by government
Also, Rufus Oyegbile, Special Adviser to the governor on Environment and Sanitation, said the state government had been making judicious use of the ecological fund to tackle ecological problems in the state.
Mr Oyegbile, who noted that though the ecological fund was not regular, said that the state nevertheless does make judicious use of what is available.
He said the state government had embarked on environmental protection projects and also tackling all ecological issues in the state.
The special adviser said the state government had been proactive in preventing natural disasters from causing serious damage in the state, adding that dry season dredging of streams was one of the measures the state government had adopted to prevent flooding during the rainy season.
Also, the Ekiti State Government has promised to intensify current efforts, aimed at addressing problems associated with flooding and other environmental disasters in the State.
The Director, State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Kolade Okeya, made this known in Ado-Ekiti in an interview.
He said that one of what the state government was doing in this regard was regular clearing of drainages and water channels across the state in preparation for the rainy season.
Mr Okeya said that the government was concerned about the warning of possible flooding in the state, hence the need to prepare adequately.
According to him, the State Emergency Management Authority is prepared to prevent heavy flooding in view of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) alert.
He said that SEMA had taken note of the three local government areas that NiMet had warned could be affected by imminent flooding and had alerted residents in the areas particularly those living in plains and near waterways to relocate to higher grounds.
NIMET had warned of imminent flooding in Ado, Ikere and Irepodun/Ifelodun LGAs of the state during the rainy season, warning people in communities living in harms-way to relocate to safer areas.
Mr Okeya said that the agency has also embarked on sensitisation campaigns through conventional and social media to warn the people against dumping of waste in drains and waterways to prevent possibility of flooding.
Meanwhile, an environmentalist, Samuel Adewunmi, has attributed rapid population growth, urbanisation and hitherto poor physical planning, whereby residents build in flood prone areas, such as river banks, wetlands and low-lying areas, were the causes of flooding.
He said to control flooding, a combination of hard infrastructural solutions and ecosystem- based adaptation, should be pursued, to include construction of dams and reservoirs, so as to be able to hold excess water and riverbank protection.
Mr Adewunmi advised that there should be appropriate drainage systems and storm water management regimes and dredging of some of the rivers in the states that NiMet has warned may experience flooding in the rainy season.
He said the government should create awareness in the media and sensitisation programmes to educate residents on disaster risks.
According to him, the state governments need to strengthen its regulatory, governance and institution capacity in the areas of spatial planning and regional cooperation on trans-boundary water resources management.
Another stakeholder, Foluke Akanji also said efforts should be intensified on emergency response, flood prediction and enforcement of environmental and spatial planning Laws.
She advised the government on the need to re-introduce environmental inspectors, so as to allow for effective policing of the environment against offenders.
The Chairman of Ikole Local Government Area, Sola Olominu also said his administration had started evacuating refuse in the drains, to curb flooding during the rainy season.
He assured residents that his administration was committed to keeping the drains and waterways clear and appealed to residents to also clean drains in front of their residence on a daily basis.
The Ondo State Emergency Agency (SEMA) also said that it constantly engages with MDAs saddled with the responsibility of maintaining the environment to prevent and reduce incidents of flooding in the state.
The Secretary of SEMA in the state, Femi Obideyi, said that the agency, as the lead coordinators in emergency management, always ensured preventive mechanisms were put in place so as to reduce or prevent sharing of relief materials for events that could be prevented.
“We are the lead coordinators, as SEMA, other responders such as the Waste Management Board and the Ministry of Environment, are our stakeholders, they are the ones with the major work.
“We have been having continuous meetings with them so that they intimate us on their level of preparedness.
“For example, the Waste Management Board has the responsibility to ensure that debris on water ways were cleared and disposed properly.
“Where there is necessity for enforcement, they should carry out enforcement. Once the waterways are cleared, it will prevent incidences of flash floods,” he said.
Mr Obideyi said the Ministry of Environment was saddled with the responsibility of liaising with the contractors in charge of dredging of waterways.
He said that his agency would continue to embark on massive sensitisation by the end of March to ensure that market women, traditional rulers and religious leaders are carried along on the mass advocacy.
“We will sensitise people that they should stop dumping refuse inside drainage channels, this is not normal. The gutters and drains are not meant for that, so there must be a change of attitude in respect to this.
“Once the Waste Management Board is up and doing, the Ministry of Environment is up and doing and we carry out our advocacy, flood incidents will be drastically reduced,” he said.
He also added that his agency always interfaces with the Ministry of Urban and Regional Planning to ensure it does not give approval for structures on flood plains and waterways.
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