MEDA, Others Engage Stakeholders on Preparedness, Response in Bauchi

Stakeholders from flood-prone local government areas of Bauchi State have been engaged in a roundtable meeting to discuss ways to mitigate the impact of flooding in line with the warnings of Nigerian Meteorogical Agency (NIMET).

The engagement was facilitated by an organization known as Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) in collaboration with Bauchi State Environmental Protection Agency (BASEPA) and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).

The Stakeholders who were drawn from Jama’are, Warji, Bauchi and Itas-Gadau LGAs, observed that recent floods had led to loss of residential buildings, farmlands and other properties worth millions of naira.

Speaking during the meeting, the Director-General of the Bauchi State Environmental Protection Agency (BASEPA), Dr. Ibrahim Kabir said that the present administration in the state under Governor Bala Mohammed was highly concerned about the environment.

According to him, “We are now in the rainy season and there are a lot of environmental problems associated with this season. We invited the Stakeholders as all the Stakeholders mentioned here that we want to have like a two-way traffic discussion about flooding particularly since we received a report from NIMET which they sent directly to His Excellency and he directed that we should invite all the Stakeholders across eight local government areas where we have like 56 Communities that may likely encounter flooding this year.”

He further said in the cause of the discussion, a lot of information was received that would guide the government on what should be done to address the challenges.

The DG stated: “I think one of the suggestions from one of the professionals, particularly from the environmental head officers council was that we should revive the issue of community inspectors.

“Just like you asked me, it’s one of the mechanisms that usually happens either within the rainy season or dry season of course we are going to have our communities fully sensitised about how to use the environment.

“So, in that regard, I pleaded with the Hon Commissioner of Housing and Environment to champion the revival of community inspectors which I believe he will take it on and his Excellency has passion for that.

“Not only talking about the environment or the significance it’s going to make but I believe we have so many graduates, we have so many professionals in the environmental sector, environmental health with diplomas and HNDs that may likely be employed if we are to revive this sector.

“So, I think if there is any take home that we need to take is the issue of revival of this sector which I believe is going to solve more than 70 percent of environmental problems in the state.”

“I think there are hundreds of ways of solving environmental problems not only damming a river. The issue of Kafin Zaki dam is one of the contentious issues that affect so many states not only Bauchi.

“You know in a river system, there are some communities or states that are at the downstream, there some at the middle stream there are some at the off stream.

“Bauchi is at the middle of the stream, there are other states in the North-West that are at the upstream and there are other states as well, Yobe and Borno that are in the downstream, so whatever you are going to do been at the middle, it may likely affect either the upstream or downstream.

“If there’s anything that Bauchi can do in that regard, I think we would have done it so far, we are in the process of discussing with all the stakeholders from the downstream and the upstream and up to now, the issue of Kafin Zaki dam is inconclusive.

“What I mean is that, there are a lot of stakeholding that are required, there are a lot of technology that need to be mobilized to agree upon so that at the tell end, instead of solving the environmental problem associated with the rivers which flooding is one of them, we are not going to create any problem, particularly to the Lake Chad and other parts of the river downstream.

“So, I think this is the issue, we listened to him and what he shared is his own view and everybody is responsible for his own views but in the real sense, the government is doing all the needful and we are working to see the possibility, we are not sure whether it is feasible or not but we are sure there are other solutions that can be provided by the Bauchi state government to get rid of this problem, not necessarily constructing the Kafin Zaki dam”, he said.

Also speaking, the District Head of Gamawa, Adamu Abdulkadir said that measures to be taken to address incidents of flooding were agreed upon and will be highly attended to.

“And by the grace of God things would be over and we will go back to our communities and enlighten them and continue with prayers for God to intervene and bring us a lasting solution to this problem.”

Programme Manager of Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme (BSADP), Alhaji Abubakar Ja’afaru Ilelah said that incidents of flood disasters have in recent years led to the destruction of many farmlands and houses which he said has negatively affected the economy of households and individuals.

“Destruction of farmlands in recent times has grounded so many businesses”, he said.

The BSADP program manager who advised that farmers should always be mindful of where they plant their crops to avoid being damaged by flood, noted that farmers should learn to plant crops that can withstand flooding.

On his part, the District Head of Bauchi, Alh Nuru Adamu Jumba said that the meeting was an ample opportunity for each Stakeholder to voice out what he or she thinks can be done to address the problem in his area.

“This time around, eight local government areas have been identified by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) for possible flooding this year”, he said.

The traditional title holder who pointed out that 56 Communities were invited to the meeting, expressed delight that the peculiarities of the affected local government areas were taken into consideration.

According to him, “This is the first time this type of meeting is happening and we are happy that we were invited and we have given our contributions and we hope that Government will look into these submissions and find a lasting solution.”

Governor Bala Mohammed of the state while declaring the meeting opened, expressed hope that, at the end of the day, workable suggestions would be offered towards finding a lasting solution to the problem of flooding in the affected areas.

Represented by the Commissioner in charge of the Ministry of Housing and Environment, Hon. Danlami Ahmed Kawule, he said that the state government is making an effort to identify areas that require the construction of earth dams that will assist in intercepting excess water that use to cause flood in some areas.

For Hon Haruna Bappha Disina, for flooding in that axis of the state to be addressed, Kafin Zaki dam must be actualized.

He stressed that “I have been in the government for a long and I know this type of problem. We have been battling this problem since 1980, the problem of erosion and flooding, we have been to so many places on this issue and it has been bedeviling us and we are still trying to find lasting solutions to the problem.

“Our traditional leaders, other Stakeholders have been working to ensure that the problem is addressed but to be honest, our problem is around this river that started from Benue to Chad, this River whether one like it or not, is always filled with sand and little water used to spill over to residential areas and farmlands before you know it has caused flooding.

“To this regard, we are calling on the government, state and federal as well as local governments to for God’s sake construct the Kafin Zaki dam.

“If Kafin Zaki Dam had been constructed we wouldn’t be having this problem. I am calling on the organisation that organized this meeting to consider the construction of Kafin Zaki dam as it remains the only way of solving this problem. If Kafin Zaki dam is not constructed, we will not address this problem for the next hundred years.

“So we are calling on this organization to discuss extensively on the Kafin Zaki dam and see to its construction.”

Participants were drawn from Bauchi, Kirfi, Shira, Gamawa, Itas Gadau, Zaki and Jama’are LGAs which are mostly prone to heavy flooding annually.