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Disaster Management: Reflection On Abuja Declaration

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As you read this in my column, about one hundred Nigerians and a sprinkling of some foreign citizens resident in Nigeria and working in the thematic area of disaster risks management are just rounding up a 48 hours brainstorming sessions facilitated by the nation's foremost Disaster prevention and management agency- National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria headed by one of Nigeria's most resilient public officials - Alhaji Mohammed Sani Sidi.

The final outcome of the two days summit is to be known as the Abuja Declaration on Disaster risks Reduction/ management. This is a post Sendai framework for disaster Risk Reduction of 2015-2030 adopted at the third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held between March 14th and 18th of 2015 in Sendai, Miyagi Japan. The event in Japan was the culmination of a quarter of a century of global commitments to disaster Risk Reduction which spanned the periods between 1989 to 2015.

There is really no doubt that the current Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria (NEMA) who heads the management and staff of this very vibrant and visionary institution has led tge institution to become a global player well regarded in the area of Disaster Risk Reduction and has even introduced the specialised studies of Disaster Risk Management at post graduate levels in Universities across the six geopolitical entities that make up the political and geographical space that goes by the name Nigeria.

Interestingly yours faithfully was at this Abuja event during which various high quality technical papers were delivered by erudite scholars drawn from several higher institutions and representatives of subregion Al, continental and the global body which is the United Nations.

At the opening event heralding the writing and adoption of what Mr Alhassan Nuhu a Director at the Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency during which he gave a succinctly rich vote of thanks just before the commencement of the first technical session called ABUJA DECLARATION ON DISASTER RISK REDUCTION, the man at the helms of Affairs in NEMA Alhaji Sani Sidi outlined the historicity of the SENDAI FRAMEWORK FOR DISASTER RISK REDUCTION and stated that the inclusion of disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as a thematic area in disaster management is based on the United Nations proclamation of the international decade for natural disaster Reduction (IDNR) in 1990, the YOKOHAMA WORLD CONFERENCE ON NATURAL DISASTER REDUCTION IN 1994, the successor of the aforementioned framework known as INTERNATIONAL STRATEGY FOR DUSASTER REDUCTION ( ISDR). He the DG of NEMA drew the attention of the audiences to the fact that in the year 2000 which saw the adoption of the aforementioned and more recently the HYOGO World conference on Disaster Reduction (HWDCDR) which came into being in the year 2005 the targets were for sustainable environmental advancements and mitigation of the adverse consequences of climate change.

He recalled that the last framework ushered in a very fundamental dimension a shift in the understanding and practice of of disaster management Worldwide which culminated in the famous HYOGO FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION (HFA) which he explained is a ten- year plan that has progressively been observed and implemented meticulously from the year 2005 to end this year and is designed to make the World safer from natural disasters and hazards.

The framework was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in the RESOLUTION A/RES/60/195 following the 2005 World Disaster Reduction Conference. He further offered more light on the fact that the post 2015 framework for disaster risk reduction was adopted at the recently concluded World third Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction which NEMA led a powerful team of Nigerian Disaster Risk Reduction Managers to attend and indeed made meaningful contributions. I know as a fact that civil society organisations (HURIWA was not invited or sponsored to attend which we would have onliged) from Nigeria attended just as I ran into the team from the Federal Ministry of Environment in Dubai the United Arab Emirates who were on their way to that summit and the caliber of scholars I saw in that team is no less formidable.

Participants agreed to address disasters around the globe with renewed vigour and a sense of urgency in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication to be integrated into policies, plans, programmes, budgets at all levels and considered within relevant framework. It's interesting to note that the current management team of NEMA are indeed POSITIVE CHANGE AGENTS who are representing the Federal Government of Nigeria headed by President Muhammadu Buhari in actualising the statutory and thematic mandate for which the agency was set up by law.

Aspects of the Abuja Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction includes but not limited to the comprehensive understanding of Disaster Risk because for any policy at both governmental and non governmental levels to create the needed positive impacts towards achieving Disaster Risk Reduction in Nigeria there is the imperative need for fuller understanding of Disaster Risk in all its dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, exposure of persons and assets, hazard characteristics and the environment. As the saying goes "you can't give what you don't have" ( NOMEN DAT QUOD NON HABET). Secondly the need to strengthen disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk. Others includes to invest in disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience and lastly but by no way the least enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to BUILD BACK BETTER in recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.

Importantly it is with joy that this writer has noted that the current Federal Government has started so very well by encouraging the management and staff of NEMA to continue to take the lessons of disaster Risk Reduction to all corners of Nigeria.

Mr President must be commended for realising the profound managerial skills of the current team at NEMA and we encourage the states across Nigeria to try to replicate the very activist roles that NEMA has consistently continued to play in taking lessons and strategies for Disaster Risk Reduction to all segments of our society. Disaster management is everybody's business therefore all governmental and non-governmental persons and organisations must key in into the good works that NEMA is doing right from the national to subnational levels. State governments should also mobilize local government and community based groups including faith based societies all around Nigeria to partner actively with NEMA to achieve the holistic goals of science based disaster risk reduction. Together we can minimise the monumental damage usually caused by disasters especially if these happen when actions are not activated to mitigate the consequences.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of Human rights Writers association of Nigeria and blogs @ www.huriwa.blogspot.com, www.rightsassociationngr.com, www.huriwa.org.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emmanuel Onwubiko and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Emmanuel Onwubiko