From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Locals in the Zaria local government area of Kaduna State have profiled gully erosion and rape in addition to general insecurity as top recurrent hazards in their communities, a field officer said.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) are currently working on system strengthening on emergency coordination and response project in the state, aimed at reducing vulnerability in terms of hazards.
To get this done, the project engaged field officers and deployed them to all the 23 local government areas of Kaduna State for hazard mapping and profiling and at the same time engage the existing local committees to ensure their buy-in as a way of promoting sustainability in their interest.
A field officer, Justina Peter said, “the major issue here in Zaria local government is erosion and flood especially in those communities that are close to rivers. This is a result of lack of waterways, good drains when it rains and indiscriminate dumping of solid waste which they need to avoid.
“They also have rape prevalence here. Most of the wards talked about rape. But, these are not reported because the parents will try to concede it. They believe the girl may not see any man to marry in the future.
“The rape in many of the wards can happen at any time. However, many of the victims or survivors are hawking girls. They call them and pretend as if they want to buy what they are selling and in the process, corner rapes them.
“This is the trend here because the parents have continued to keep silent over this. We encourage them to be bold enough and approach human rights organisations for help*, she added.
Fielding questions from reporters in Zaria earlier, the Executive Secretary, SEMA, Abubakar Hassan, said the supervision became necessary to ensure the correct things are done as well as boosting the morale of field officers.
“We have been in these communities on early warning signs of disaster. They need to know when to report and when to act to eliminate risks ahead of them. We plan to equip people to know what to do.
“For example, if you go and fetch water from your well and you notice the water level has risen than usual, you should know there are some fundamental issues about such because you may be sitting atop time bomb.
*We expect that these people will transfer the knowledge to others step by step. Leadership is about visibility and you should show those you are leading that you are capable. I should be able to show others the way to go. Even when you send people out, you need to supervise and be involved which will motivate those you are coordinating to do better.
“We are planning a meeting with all those that are working around safety. We have existing structures like the ward development committee. We are also building volunteers – from Mai Angwan to Dakachi to Hakimi and the Emir”
An environmentalist and a consultant in this project, Ms Gloria Kasang Bulus, also noted that “supportive supervision which is to see how we can support the field officers to help them fix those things they may be missing out as they engage local committees in their respective franchise local government is important.
“For us as consultants, we are there to offer technical support while SEMA looks at the operational support they may need. That is why we also join them while they do hazard profiling.
“So, we are going round to give support and encouragement in terms of technical or operational support so that at the end of the day, we can come up with a reliable document for contingencies plans here in Kaduna State which other states may also borrow”.