LAWRENCE NWIMO writes that the Federal Government has been asked to step up measures to mitigate flood menace and save over twenty thousand families who have been sacked by heavy floods in Anambra State.
This call was made after recent floodings wreaked havoc in some Anambra communities destroying their farmlands while also displacing thousands of families in Ayamelum, Ogbaru, Awka North and Anambra West.
The annual flooding has kept some communities on their toes and has continued to ravage communities , particularly, the Anambra North senatorial zone communities since 2011 because the federal government failed to take proactive measures to address the problem in the area.
However, recent videos and pictures captured and which have continued to flood the social media platforms exposed the sorry condition of people living in this riverine areas that have lost all manners of means of livelihood including their farmlands and businesses.
In response to these developments, three civil society groups under Evidence and Collaboration for Inclusive Development, ECID, a United Kingdom, UK- funded project for development gathered to marshall out ways to resolving the menace.
The civil society groups are Justice Development and Peace Caritas , JDPC, Onitsha; Hope Givers Initiative, HOG-I; and Civil Rights Concern, CRC. They organized a joint press briefing at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity Secretariat, Onitsha Anambra State, Monday to chart ways to mitigate the Flood menace in the state.
The groups specifically said that only the dredging of the River Niger will stop the perennial flooding that sacks thousands of currently displaced riverine communities in Anambra State, particularly communities in Ogbaru and Ayamelum Local Government Areas in Anambra North Senatorial zone.
They also called for a change of academic calendar for schools in communities affected by flooding and deployment of medical doctors and primary health care givers to provide health care services to victims of flooding in IDP camps across the state.
The groups also urged Anambra State government to provide upland storage facilities for the flood displaced communities who are predominantly farmers, just as to provide conducive permanent Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps for them.
Programme Manager, ECID/JDPC, Onitsha, Mr. Alphonsus Nwoye who addressed newsmen on behalf of the groups regretted that flood has continued to ravage Anambra communities, particularly, the Anambra North senatorial zone communities since 2011 because the federal government failed to take proactive measures to address the problem of flooding in the area.
He alleged that all the promises made to the people during the 2012 flooding were not kept by the federal government in spite of the repeated calls by organizations and individuals for the promises to be fulfilled.
The statement entitled “Agenda setting on Flood Menace Mitigation in Anambra State Riverine Communities” signed by Mr. Nwoye for ECID/JDPC Onitsha; Okey Onyeka for CRC and Mrs Onyeka Udegbunam for HOG-I, called on both the federal and Anambra State government to summon enough strong political will to implement their respective environmental protection policies to save the people from problems associated with environmental degradation.
“Federal Government should expedite action on total dredging of the River Niger and Anambra State government should commence the dredging of surrounding rivers like Anambra and Ezu rivers in order to deepen water depth and minimize overflowing of river levels during rainy season.
“There is need for policy change of academic calendar for schools in these communities. It has also become very imperative for deployment of teachers to organize teaching in IDP camps during flooding.
“Deployment of medical doctors in health facilities and Primary Health Care, PHC, staff to deliver health care services in the IDP camps is also very important for flood victims.”
Contributing, Cynthia Enweonwu-Arinze said that the group has been engaging different government agencies to reduce the impact of the floodings on the victims. She said that even though flooding is a natural disaster that cannot be stopped, there are things that can be done to control it typical of a call they made to FERMA, a federal government agency, to give a fore-warning to the residents of the riverine communities about the coming of floods in their areas.
She recalled that the group’s discussion with school principals and education stakeholders in the region recorded positive return last year as Ogbaru local government area changed their school calendar which made them able to close for the session before the coming of flood last year. She noted that same could have been adopted this year but for the COVID-19 pandemic.
She regretted that most families are too reluctant to evacuate from their community even after they have been warned to do to reduce the impact of the flood on them.
“You know when this flood starts, the river will overflow their bridge. We suggested dredging and people of Ogbaru suggested a change of school calendar which was successful for them last year.
” These are the things we can actually do to mitigate because we cannot stop it. It will continue to happen unless the federal government wants to take it further like in Kaduna where they normally provide a kind of wall near the river. They will be marking the water level and as the water gets to a particular point, they will now alert people to evacuate.