The Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), FCT Administration, says community participation in emergency management is crucial to disaster risk reduction in the country.
Mrs Florence Wenegieme, Director, Forecasting, Response and Mitigation, FEMA, stated this on Friday in Abuja during the agency’s ongoing sensitisation campaign in commemoration of the 2023 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Wenegieme said at the Palace of Sa’Peyi of Garki, Alhaji Usman Nga-Kupi (the Chief of Garki Village), that community structures were the first respondents to any incidence of disaster.
She identified some of the structures as community volunteers, local divers, town criers, disaster marshals, traditional and religious leaders, women, and youth groups among others.
According to her, the participation of these groups in emergency management significantly reduced the response time to emergencies.
Wenegieme added that beyond early response to emergencies, the community structures were equally strategic in disaster reduction.
This, she said, could be done through consistent awareness creation and mobilisation of residents to desist from human induced hazards like bush burning and illegal connection of electricity.
Others, she said, included building on waterways, dumping of refuse on drainages and other forms of human induced hazards.
According to her, some of the induced hazards turn into disasters and eventually claim lives and properties.
“Therefore, equipping community members with the knowledge on what disasters are, how to prevent or mitigate them would go a long way in reducing the risk of disasters in communities.
“The sensitisation which began on Tuesday, was to ensure that no one is left behind during disasters or emergencies.
“This is in line with this year’s theme, Fighting Inequalities for a Resilient Future for All.
“The goal is to ensure that every community stakeholder plays a crucial role in disaster management, particularly early warning signals and disaster risk reduction,”Wenegieme said.
The director also emphasised that traditional and religious leaders were critical stakeholders in community sensitisation and mobilisation, describing them as critical to disaster management.
She added that the awareness campaign was to enlighten community members on ways to reduce the risk of disasters in communities and pledged FEMA continued partnership and support.
“This will help in keeping residents informed, cautious about disaster and prepared to prevent or mitigate where feasible,” she added.
Responding, the Chief of Garki Village, commended FEMA for all the support and directed all the district, village, and ward heads to cascade the messages in their respective communities.
Similar campaigns were conducted at the Palace of the Ona of Abaji, in Abaji Area Council and Gwagwalada Area Council.