Nigeria launches national policy on disaster risk management

Nkechinyere Itodo, Abuja

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched a National Disaster Risk Management policy.

Government said the policy document is the outcome of increased and improved collaborative efforts with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), other development partners and relevant stakeholders with the desire to build resilient and sustainable societies that are capable of surmounting climate and disaster risks.

The Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Mustapha Maihaja who unveiled the document to the public at a ceremony in Abuja captioned “Taking Disaster Risk Reduction to a Higher Level”, said the policy seek, among other things to achieve a ‘transformational change required in risk governance’ in Nigeria.

He stated that the document proposes a framework of directions for supporting measures that will strengthen communities, individuals, businesses and institutions to minimize the adverse effects of disasters in the country, providing guidelines for enhancing the ability to prevent, prepare, respond and recover from disasters across all elements in the country.

Maihaja remarked thatNigeria like other countries in the West African region and indeed the continent at large has witnessed continuous rise in both natural and human induced disasters which has resulted in loss of lives, large scale displacement, socio economic dislocation and environmental degradation.”

According to the DG NEMA, the country has ‘faced yearly devastating flood which has taken a great toll on all aspects of its life and development’.

Explaining further, he stated that though global disaster risk management had witnessed improved legislation, improved awareness and improved early warning systems, including establishment of sustainable structures and national platforms for disaster risk reduction, unfortunately these measures have not been sufficient to achieve the transformational change required in the risk governance, hence the need for a policy to enhance efforts and advance risk management in line with the provisions of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Framework

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, in March 2015 was adopted at the Third United Nations Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai City, Japan.

It is a 15-year voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government and the private sector.

The framework aims to achieve a substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.

The Director, Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr Vincent Owan, said the National Disaster Risk Management policy was subjected to series of reviews and vetting by relevant stakeholders to ensure that it reflected the objective of the 2015 Framework for disaster risk reduction, and noted that the policy document is subject to continuous reviews as the implementation advances.

Representatives of the Fire Service, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, Social Development, UNDP, UNOCHA and Police were some of the stakeholders that witnessed the launch.