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Serious concerns over weather forecast

01 June 2013, 16:25

Calabar - The Cross River Government says the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) weather forecast for 2013 is posing serious concerns for its disaster management capacity.

Vincent Aquah, the Director-General of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar on Saturday.

Aquah told NAN that although the prediction was timely but it was a sad news because it would further affect SEMA’s resources on emergency, flood and natural disasters’ management and control.

NAN recalls that NIMET’s Director-General, Dr Anthony Anuforom, had recently predicted in Abuja that the rainfall for 2013 will be above normal as compared with the volume of rain in 2012.

He said that there would be more rains in 2013 in the northern states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara and Zamfara.

According to Anuforom, catchment areas of River Niger and parts of the Niger Delta have higher chances of even more rainfall this year than previous years.

He said that his worry was heightened by the likelihood of some communities in Cross River to be permanently dislocated.

The director general said two other communities in the state would be resettled permanently from their ancestral homes for fear of being obliterated.

"We have two major communities that should be relocated. These communities are those that will suffer another "'total engulfment’’ when the next flood comes.

"They are Eja in Obubra and Agwagune in Biase. Eja hitherto had never experienced the kind of serious flooding that we had last year.

"But with changing times and the volume of water that came in downstream from Lagdo Dam they could not escape it.

"Agwagune on the other hand had been experiencing annual flooding; it is also a community prone to coastal erosion and landslide.

"It has lost close to 90 per cent of its habitable landmass to landslide and flooding, had its worst flooding session in 2012.

"If the prediction of NIMET for 2013 is anything to go by, then Agwagune is likely to be obliterated come 2013 flooding.

"The whole community will be wiped out; it also requires relocation,'' he said.

Cross River was one of the states affected by the discharge from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroun in 2012.

Aquah said, "altogether 212 communities were flooded, 1 800 houses destroyed, 82 361 farms destroyed, more than 49 000 people were displaced.’’

"Public structures including 15 churches, 13 schools, 18 markets were pulled down, 34 persons sustained very serious injuries, and 13 persons lost their lives when they got drowned.

"With these we had huge humanitarian problems which the state government had to deal with. The Federal Government also responded because it was a national disaster.

"It required not just the state’s response but response from the international community because the flood traversed international boundaries.

"The state government addressed the humanitarian needs of those affected. The Federal Government also sent relief assistance besides the cash grants given to affected states.

"It sets up the Federal Flood Disaster Management Committee headed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, he said.

Aquah said that SEMA had taken "a post disaster assessment’’ of the situation, adding that the state government would require collaborative efforts to manage natural disasters whenever they occurred.

"Today we have taken a swift look at the communities to do a quick post disaster assessment.

"And what we observe is that it has taken a toll on farming in all those communities and adjourning communities affected by the disaster.

"You find them now in semi-stabilised condition because they have settled back at their homes but they are still experiencing food insecurity.

"A lot of the communities are seriously devastated and are yet to return to their homes; most of them are still squatting. These communities require total rehabilitation,’’ he said.



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