FCDO, MET Office, Others Join Forces On Flood Risk Communication

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L-R: Project Coordinator, The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Mr. Oluwasegun Adetunde, Project Lead, UK Meteorological Office (Met Office), Mr. Tim Donovan, Director, The National Space Research Development Agency, (NASRDA), Dr. Matthew Adepoju, Director General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, Engr. Clement Nze and Head, Flood and Erosion Control, National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna at the UK, FCDO and Met Office presentation of the research findings and recommendations documents on improving flood risk communication in Nigeria to the Disaster Management Agencies Director Generals held in Abuja, recently.

Experts and stakeholders have said that the recent collaboration between the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), UK, MET Office, and various Nigerian disaster agencies marks a significant step towards addressing the pressing issue of improving the effectiveness of flood risk communication in Nigeria.

During the high-level meeting held in Abuja recently, all disaster management agencies’ Directors and Director General were presented with research findings and recommendations from a 6-month intensive fieldwork project that involved engaging with the most vulnerable communities across the country.

Mr. Donovan Timothy, the Project lead from the UK Meteorological Office (Met Office), expressed optimism about the results of engaging with vulnerable communities. He stressed the importance of proactive disaster communication management strategies and urged stakeholders to work collaboratively to boost resilience and preparedness for potential disasters.

“We are confident that the partners involved in this project will effectively articulate and implement the recommendations provided. We aimed to streamline the process, tailor the recommendations to each agency’s capabilities, and ensure they can be seamlessly implemented across all communication channels outlined in the report. By making the guidelines agency-specific and easy to follow, we believe they will facilitate an efficient and successful execution of the proposed strategies.

“It is imperative to enhance the communication strategy in Nigeria to protect the vulnerable population from the destructive effects of frequent flooding, which result in significant loss of lives, damage to properties, and mass displacement of people. Addressing the communication gaps is crucial to ensure timely and effective dissemination of information, warnings, and instructions to those at risk. By improving communication channels and strategies, we can increase preparedness, response, and resilience efforts, ultimately minimizing the impact of disasters on our communities,’’ he said.

According to the Director General of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, Engr. Clement Nze, flooding is a serious threat to our nation, causing widespread devastation and loss of life. He said, ‘‘Effective flood risk communication is critical to mobilizing communities to take action and build resilience. We are grateful for FCDO’s support in helping implement key recommendations from a recent report.”

The Steering Committee consisting of representatives of all disaster management agencies, Met Office, and the communication consulting firm, McEnies Global Communication jointly identified opportunities that need to strengthen inter-agency coordination, utilize innovative communication channels, deploy targeted messaging for at-risk groups, and improve monitoring and evaluation of communication efforts.

With these recommendations, FCDO opines that The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), National Water Resources Institute (NIWR), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Orientation Agency (NOA), and other stakeholders will work together to implement selected recommendations from the report.

Also present at the meeting was Dr. Matthew Adepoju, the Director of the Strategic Space Application Department of The National Space Research Development Agency, (NASRDA) representing the Director General, Dr. Halilu Shaba Ahmad, emphasized the importance of incorporating diverse media platforms in the implementation processes for enhanced efficiency.

Dr. Adepoju highlighted that involving The Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) would be beneficial in broadcasting these commendable initiatives effectively. He urged for prompt inclusion of BON in the endeavor to ensure the attainment of significant success and wider recognition. The collaborative effort with media outlets such as BON, as suggested by Dr. Adepoju, aims to maximize the impact and reach of the agency’s endeavors.

The UK FCDO remains steadfast in its dedication to assisting Nigeria in enhancing resilience against climate change and natural calamities. By prioritizing improved flood risk communication, lives can be saved through the empowerment of local communities with essential information necessary for adequate preparation and response during flood incidents. This collaborative effort not only underscores the importance of proactive measures but also demonstrates a shared commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of all individuals affected by such disasters. It is through these strategic interventions that the UK FCDO and Nigeria can work together to mitigate the impact of environmental challenges and foster sustainable development for future generations.”

The collaboration is part of the UK government’s wider support for disaster risk reduction in Nigeria, which includes projects focused on flood modeling and forecasting, data collection networks, and disaster risk management planning. By improving inter-agency coordination and adopting best practices in risk communication, this initiative aims to build a more robust and integrated flood early warning system for Nigeria.