By Mohammed Khandi
In a bid to consolidate on national emergency management nationwide, the National Emergency Management Agency recently organized an annual consultative meetings with the Executive Secretaries / Heads SEMAs with the aim of reviewing the nation’s humanitarian strategies to enhance vertical and horizontal coordination, improve collaborations amongst the Agencies responsible for managing emergencies and disasters in the country as well as to recommend actionable strategies for effective and efficient disaster management in the country.
The 2014 edition was held on 22nd – 23rd October, 2014 at Transcorp Hotel, Calabar, Cross River State with the theme‘Disaster and Displacement – finding solutions to an evolving phenomenon’ . The objectives of the meeting were to:
i. Consider and evaluate the level of implementation of previous resolutions;
ii. Consider the effects of these disasters with particular reference to the management of displaced people;
The meeting was declared open by His Excellency, the Governor of Cross River State represented by the Deputy Governor Barrister Efiok Cobham while the Director General NEMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi OFR gave the keynote address. The welcome address was delivered by the Executive Secretary of the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, Mr Vincent Aquah MON. In attendance were officials of NEMA and 18 Executive Secretaries / Head of SEMAs.
Addressing disaster management
A thematic paper was presented on ‘Disaster and Displacement – finding solutions to an evolving phenomenon’ by Zanna Muhammad, NEMA’s Director of Planning, Research & Forecasting. Thereafter, participants were divided into two syndicate groups to discuss and develop a way forward as follows:
a) Proactive approaches in Minimizing Displacement
b) Best practices in Managing Displacement.
At the end of the meeting, the following observations were made:
a) That the causes of displacement in the country include Ethno- religious crisis, flooding, insurgency, epidemic, desertification, wind storm etc.;
b) Displacement is on the increase as a result of absence of good governance i.e non adherence to rules and regulations;
c) Inadequate preparedness on the part of some State Governments to anticipate and cope with the challenges of displacement;
d) Poor adherence to early warning messages in the country.
e) Inadequate capacity of agencies responsible for early warning to forecast accurately and effectively disseminate same;
f) There are inconsistencies in the management of displaced population across the nation;
g) Lack of robust recovery and rehabilitation plans;
h) Over dependence on government for funding and management of displaced persons;
i) None adherence to general humanitarian principles.
After exhaustive deliberation, the meeting recommended as follows:
I. Good governance as a panacea for reducing displacement;
II. Community dialogue and other means of alternative dispute resolution for peace building should be strengthened;
III. Deployment of appropriate technology to assist and enhance capability in managing displacement;
IV. There is need to identify and support host communities to accommodate displaced persons;
V. There is need for adequate registration and profiling of displaced persons to enhance their wellbeing;
VI. Wherever possible, IDPs should be included in the management of their camps;
VII. Strengthen the involvement of NGOs, CBO, FBOs and Civil Societies in the management of displaced persons;
VIII. There is need to consider the right of IDPs in the context of emerging issues such as voting, exemption from taxes, education during emergencies, recreation etc.;
IX. There is need to follow the acceptable international best practices in the management of displaced persons such as neutrality, impartiality, independence and humanity as enshrined in the various conventions, laws, protocols etc.;
X. Psychosocial support should form all aspects of managing displaced persons;
XI. Rehabilitation and recovery should as a matter of necessity be given priority in managing displacement.