Flooding: Kogi govt reacts to ICIR’s report on inadequate preparations

THE Kogi State Government has reacted to The ICIR’s report on its inadequate preparations ahead of predicted flooding in the state this year.

Kogi is among the states that were devastated by flooding in 2022 and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has warned that the state is among those likely to be affected by the disaster in 2023.

However, an investigation published by The ICIR revealed that the state is largely unprepared in the face of imminent flooding as the rainy season intensifies.

Reacting to the report, the Commissioner for Environment Victor Adewale Omofaiye, in a statement sent to The ICIR on Sunday, July 16, said the Kogi State Government is making efforts to improve its emergency response mechanisms.

“We acknowledge that flood warnings are crucial indicators for prompt action, and we have an established system in place to receive and respond to such signals.

“The Kogi State Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with relevant agencies, constantly monitors weather patterns, river levels, and flood forecasts provided by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA),” he noted.

The ICIR reported that residents of Kogi State are still at risk of losing lives and properties due to inadequate mitigation strategies, despite early warnings.

Many drainage systems in the state have been converted into dumpsites due to a lack of proper waste management and some residents of rural areas were unaware of the impending flood.

Residents of Kogi also continue to reside in flood-prone areas, despite recommendations by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) that such inhabitants be relocated by the government.

The ICIR contacted the Ministry of Environment on plans being made ahead of the predicted floods but did not get answers to questions sent.

However, reacting to the report, Omofaiye said the ministry’s strategies following flood predictions include early sensitisation and public awareness campaigns.

“We have implemented early warning systems in flood-prone areas to alert residents and local authorities of impending floods. These systems utilise various communication channels, including text messages, sirens, and community mobilisation,” he noted.

He also said construction of infrastructure, including embankments and reservoirs, and plans to evacuate residents of flood-prone areas, were part of the ministry’s response to flood warnings.

“We have developed comprehensive evacuation plans in collaboration with local government authorities to ensure the safe relocation of residents living in high-risk areas. These plans are regularly updated and tested to enhance effectiveness,” the statement read.

The commissioner, however, stated that human factors such as blockage of water channels and climate change were contributing to the problem of flooding in the state.

“It is important to note that despite our best efforts, flooding remains a complex and challenging issue. Kogi State is prone to both riverine and flash floods due to its geographical location and topography. The severity and unpredictability of weather patterns, combined with human activities such as illegal construction and blockage of drainage channels, contribute to the complexity of flood management,” Omofaiye noted.

Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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