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Stop building, farming on waterways to avert floods during COVID-19, says Emergency boss

Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Friday advised against building and farming on waterways to avert floods and the negative impact of heavy rainfall in the country.

Air Vice Marshal Muhammadu Mohammed, Director-General of NEMA, said in Abuja while briefing Journalists on the agency’s plan for the ‘2020 Flood Preparedness, Mitigation and Response’ that by the rainfall prediction and flood outlook in the country, it would be a herculean task to manage a flood disaster in the midst of the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.

A document on Disaster Risk Management Implication of 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction was presented at the event.

Muhammadu said that such a scenario will amount to managing an “incident within an incident.”

Saying that the agency had written letters to the various State and Local Governments that could be affected by the flood, the Director-General said that “in Nigeria and most parts of the world, people are seriously attached to their traditional lands; it is very difficult to get them out of where they are living. Climate change has also compounded the issue as, sometimes, what is predicted is not what will happen exactly.

“And so, if we tell them to move out from where they are living, they will tell you that in a particular year, it was predicted and nothing happened. But there are times that it was predicted and it was worse. The fact is that, the best mitigation against flood is to continue to talk, educate and even plead with people to realise that it has happened before and it can happen again.

“Another factor is the increase in population; people are competing with natural waterways.

“They want to claim waterways to build or farm, but water will always want to find it ways; we all understand that the important thing in life is to stay safe. Once we realise that, you will admit the fact that sometimes you have to abandon some things you hold dear in order to save your life.”

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) had on Jan. 21 released the 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) report to guide the various sectors of the country.

NiMet said that a ‘normal to above normal’ rainfall is expected generally in the country, envisaging total rainfall amounting to 400mm in the North and about 3,000mm in the South.

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