This year, there seems to have been fewer incidences of flooding in Kaduna state compared to previous years. What is Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (KADSEMA) doing differently?
Well, what we have done differently this year is that, first of all, we have been following the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and their predictions very closely. As the predictions are coming out, we ensure that we use this information thoroughly, review it, appreciate it and ensure that we put strategies on ground to pass it across the nooks and crannies of state through the Local Emergency Management Committees. We have these committees at the local levels, as defined by the National Disaster Management Framework. We started preparations by the first workshop that was organized by NIMET early this year. Beyond that, we also did some sensitization drive that we called “A Road Show for Flooding in the Year 2021”. This road show took us to different nooks and crannies of the state across Chikun local government, Kaduna South local government, Kaduna North local government, Zaria local government and Jema’a local government areas. In Jema’a, we were specifically in Kafanchan and in Kaura Local government area, we were around Biniki and Bondong which are areas that are very prone to flooding year in, year out. These activities, we believe, were majorly responsible for ensuring that whatever happened last year or the years before last, with respect to flooding, does not happen this time around. An adage says if you don’t learn from the past, then you will not learn to address the future. That is what we have done and it is ongoing. It will not stop until we see the end of the raining season.
Not much has been heard of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Platform since it embarked on sensitization last May. Has it been disbanded?
Not at all, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Platform (DMMP) is a technical working group that supports the execution of the mandate of SEMA. It is very much in place and it has been supporting SEMA all through, and in all its programs. As we speak, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Platform has been responsible for some of the activities that we did this year, especially with respect to the sensitization. It is the strategy behind the sensitization exercise, that made communities aware of the predictions that came out from the meteorological department with respect to flooding this year. And some of the advice that we received this year, were all supported by the Disaster Management and Mitigation Platform. You will remember that we have both state and non-state actors as part of DMMP. The state actors for example include, Kaduna State Environmental Protection Agency (KEPA), we have Kaduna Geographic Information Service (KADGIS), we have Kaduna Urban Planning and Development Authority (KASUPDA), the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC). Our collaboration with them is continuous. If we have to succeed as an institution of government and deliver on the mandate that has been given to us, the DMMP will have to remain and it has been a major part of our success.
Last year, KADSEMA promised to train 3,000 volunteers in all the 23 local government areas, to strengthen disaster management in the state. Have they been trained?
How do they operate? Well, we made a promise to train volunteers as part of our major strategy in refocusing the activities of SEMA, so that we could actually maximize the full potentials of our mandate. We had to go back to the basics; we went down to the communities to begin to do what is called “Hazard Profiling”. And hazard profiling in communities cannot happen without the full support of the community and it is along this line, as I speak to you today, that 1,800 community volunteers have been directly trained on disaster mitigation, hazard profiling and early warning signals. And as we speak, incidences that are happening all over the state are being reported directly from the members of these communities across the 255 wards of the state. Getting the required 3,000 or even more will be an ongoing exercise and it is our hope that we will get to a situation where emergency services are majorly provided by volunteers, much more than government intervention, like it is done all over the world. So, we are hoping that we will get to a point where every single resident of Kaduna state becomes a full ambassador of the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency. Meaning that, should there be an incident, you do not wait, you are an ambassador, you report it so that appropriate measures will be taken.
Last April, KADSEMA said it recorded 279 fire outbreaks between January and March, with an average of two fire outbreaks a day in Zaria and Sabon Gari local governments. What has the Agency done to reduce fire outbreaks generally in the state?
Well, in terms of mitigating the proliferation of fire in Kaduna state, the agency first began to assess the real causes of these incidences. Some of these causes are attributed to careless handling of material that are combustible within the house like gas. Some of these outbreaks are also associated with electricity. In some villages outside the metropolis, the incidents are associated with bush fires. So for us to tackle the issues properly, we did a stakeholder engagement and also paid courtesy visits to prominent stakeholders in our sensitization campaign. For example, we visited the Kaduna Electric. Why did we visit Kaduna Electric? We know that certain fire incidences are associated with electricity, but we also know that electricity alone does not ignite fires. Electricity has to be transmitted before it causes fire outbreaks. So, we went to Kaduna Electric to understand even the nature of power that it distributes to homes and how they can equally partner with us to do a sensitization on the usage of this power. We also did sensitization around people that handle fire for commercial purposes; for example, people that are involved in roasting fish, meat and also those who fry bean cakes on the road. We told them the importance of ensuring that the fire is 100% extinguished before they leave their business premises. Again, we are always discussing these issues, using different social media platforms, with respect to what people need to do either in their business premises or at home. We advised them to also ensure that all electrical appliances are switched off when they are not in use. Remember, if you don’t switch them on, you are saving some money for other things. Switching off all appliances is a cost saving and risk deterrent attitude that we all need to imbibe, especially when we are no longer using them. So, these are some of the measures that we have taken to address these issues of fire incidences. But beyond all these, at a larger level, we are having discussion with a view of having synergy with private stakeholders that have these firefighting know-how and equipment. We all know that the state alone cannot provide all these equipment and expertise. The private sector has to come in and give support as some form of Corporate Social Responsibility and I will tell you that as at today, we have the Nigerian Airforce and the Nigerian Army supporting us. We also have the private pharmaceutical here, DIALOGUE, supporting us. We have Kaduna State University (KASU) supporting us and these supports are spread in different areas within the metropolis. Now, we have gotten two additional trucks from the Federal Fire Service in Kaduna; we have gotten additional one in Zaria, we are expecting one to come in soon. So that these different units will help us in addressing the speed in terms of delivery, in terms of reaching out whenever we are called for an emergency to address any fire incidence in these areas. For us in Kaduna, fire incidences may be a thing of the past very soon but it has a lot to do with the attitude of the people in managing some of the causes of fire incidences, as I outlined earlier. And on the other hand, the speed to deliver the emergency service should we be called to intervene.
What role is your Agency playing to prevent the spread of cholera in Kaduna state?
Yes, our agency has the mandate to coordinate the issues of disaster in Kaduna state. When you mention cholera, it means you are talking of cholera where an outbreak is already pronounced. Well, it is our responsibilities to first of a ll sit with the major stakeholders, in this case, the Primary Healthcare Development Agency, the Ministry of Health, to see what can be done in order to sensitize the people on the real cause of cholera. Then, we will also bring other stakeholders into the fold. As you know, cholera is associated with filthy environment. So, in this case, the Kaduna State Environmental Protection Agency (KEPA) and the Ministry of Environment have major roles to play here. Just last week, we had a major strategic sit-out where this issue were brought and tabled and different strategies were adopted. First of all, our ability to get people to sanitize their environment, ability to get people to understand the risk of living in a filthy environment were also discussed. I will also tell you, we have also considered taking a decision to His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kaduna state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, to ratify and declare that going forward, environmental sanitation should be observed by all residents of Kaduna at least once a month. During that time, people have to clean their environment. So, getting people to do what they are supposed to do with respect to the environment, in terms of cleanliness of the environment, will help us to address the issue of cholera and we are already ahead on this. We are disc