Mr Izuchukwu Onwughara, the Project Coordinator, Nigeria Environmental Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), in Abia has advised the government, groups, communities and individuals to adopt proactive measures in tackling flooding.
Onwughara in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) stressed the need for a proactive approach in flood management as “an efficient way to prevent the devastating impact of flooding”.
He said that the warnings issued by Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMeT) were based on empirical data and called for urgent action by Nigerians.
“NiMeT has given seasonal rainfall predictions for 2020. I urge people to take the warnings and precautions seriously because neglecting them would be at our own peril.
“We should transit from reactionary approach to preparedness because being able to prepare is a better response to flooding and its adverse effects.”
Onwughara advised property owners and developers to raise the foundation of buildings in flood-prone areas, desilt drains and avoid building on waterways to prevent flooding.
He also urged people to create green areas, describing the measure as another effective strategy to prevent flooding.
According to him, green areas will provide a terminal point for storm water and prevent surface runoff.
Onwughara called on relevant agencies to collaborate in the fight against flooding by ensuring that proper and approved building designs were used for town development.
He said that NEWMAP had commenced public enlightenment campaigns on the dangers of flooding and ways of preventing it, as well as collaborating with the Abia government to tackle flooding.
“We are trying to take stormy water away from low flood plain by using a tunnel to move the water to Aba River. This is the state government’s Umuagbai-Uratta project aimed at flood mitigation.
“We have also commenced a solid waste management programme aimed at helping in solid waste disposal because solid waste clogs drains,” Onwughara said.
Also, the Executive Secretary of Abia State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr Sunday Jackson, said the agency had begun sensitisation of the people to create awareness to the looming flood disaster in the state.
Jackson told NAN that Abia was one of the 28 states on flood red alert as predicted by the Nigeria Hydrological Agency Services and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMeT).
He said that more than 60 communities that were flood-prone in the state would likely be affected by the downpour envisaged to happen between September and October across the federation.
He listed Umunneochi, Osisioma Ngwa, Obingwa, Isiala Ngwa, Umuahia North and Umuahia South, Ukwa East and Ukwa West as the Local Government Areas that were at high risk of flooding.
He said: “Based on the predictions, SEMA and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had embarked on sensitisation in the seven local government areas to prepare them against the impending disaster.”
Jackson said that communities in those areas were being sensitised to be aware and observe the safety-net that would curtail impact of the disaster when it occurs.
“We are also emphasizing seriously that residents of these highly prone areas should evacuate from such places to safer areas,” he said.