‘Grow beyond relief distribution’ – UNICEF to SEMAs
By; Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stressed the need for State Emergency Management Agencies to live above board and become relevant and grow beyond the idea of being relief distributors to emergency managers as it is currently in the country.
Speaking to journalists during a workshop on “Emergency Preparedness Planning and Update of State Contingency”, organized by UNICEF for SEMAs and other stakeholders in emergency management in both the North-West and North-Central States, Soji Adeniyi, UNICEF Emergency Focal Person for Nigeria, noted that what we have currently in Nigeria as SEMAs are just relief care givers and not emergency managers.
According to him, “Emergency Management is not relief, a lot of them grow up with the relief mentality, they want to carry relief materials to those that are affected with disasters. That is just one element of their job and should not be more than 25 percent, the remaining 75 percent is preparing people for those challenges letting them understand that the crisis will be caused if they did not prepare.
“They cannot be solved by relief, so 24/7 they should spend time in disaster risk preparedness activities that will make sure that even when they are not ready to respond other responders will come to the table.
”That is exactly what we are doing here today, we’ve brought together all stakeholders like SEMAs, ministries of planning, health, education, nutrition and others including the media so that they will understand that disaster management is everybody’s business and not only states emergency management agencies alone.”
He said there are no man-made disasters as people were made to believe in the past but that man can induce disaster, adding that man complicates it because he does not respond to nature the way he supposed to, because climate change is real and we must learn to manage it.
He identified malnutrition as one of the killers of children and express dismay over government neglect on malnutrition and some other issues where children and women are concerned.
Soji explained that politicians are not giving the needed attention because their names will not be written on it, saying they rather give attention to physical projects that does not have direct impact on the common man.
He urged governments at all levels to shift their attention and resources to projects that have direct and immediate impact on the children so that they can live, adding “if they are malnourished there may not be children to take over from the current crops of leaders.
“So when planning towards disaster, emergency agencies should put the children and women into consideration as report had it that over 70 per cent of disaster victims are children and women.”