Disaster Reponse: Nigeria commits to more inclusive policies

Rahila Lassa, Abuja 

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The Nigerian Government has introduced policies that seek to reduce inequality both in its National Disaster Response Plan as well as damage and loss assessment and relief intervention activities.

Director General of, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mustapha Ahmed disclosed this in Abuja, Nigeria on the occasion of the 2023 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Director General said the day recognises the culture of risk awareness and disaster risk reduction to enhance community resilience worldwide.

According to him, the day is looking at the mutual relationship between disasters and inequality.

“Inequality and disaster vulnerability exist side by side. Unequal access to services, income inequality, unequal opportunities and discrimination, and non-adoption of fiscal policies that promote equality have exposed the majority of the global population, especially women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities”, he said.

He, however, noted that with concerted efforts and awareness creation, stakeholders can curb the destructive powers of both nature and human-induced disasters through careful planning to reduce people’s exposure and vulnerability to harm.

He noted that the Sendai framework for DRR calls for more dedicated action on tackling underlying disaster risk drivers such as poverty and inequality.

The Director General further stated that Disaster Risk Reduction requires a society-wide engagement and partnership.

“It also requires empowerment and inclusivity, accessible and non-discriminatory participation, paying attention to people disproportionately affected by disasters, especially the poor”. 

“It calls for the integration of gender, age, disability and cultural perspectives in all policies and practices while promoting women and youth leadership in our democratic processes”. 

Earlier, the Director, Disaster Risk Reduction in the Agency, Mr Daniel Obot said the day also makes it 10 years since Nigeria joined the global community in celebrating Disaster Risk Reduction.

“It marks the beginning of another decade of re-aligning and strengthening of Disaster Risk Reduction in Nigeria in partnership with stakeholders. 

He said, disaster risk reduction thrives on collaboration and synergy within the philosophy of leaving no one behind.

“As we’ve been collaborating over the years, it has become more compelling to strengthen the synergy”, he added.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari said the inequalities within communities are further magnified when disaster strikes, as marginalized populations bear the brunt of their consequences.

Represented by the Director of Nutrition and Food Security in the Ministry, Sugra Mahmoud, the Minister noted that it is the moral imperative of the Ministry to influence crucial solutions that empower every citizen to withstand the shocks and stresses of related disasters.

“Extreme weather events such as droughts, storms, floods and heat waves have emerged as formidable adversaries threatening our agricultural systems and exacerbating the inequalities in accessing nutritious foods. 

“The statistics are very dire… The conflict situation we find ourselves in also exacerbates everything we’re going through. The most vulnerable amongst us including smallholder farmers, women, children, marginalised communities often face disproportionate challenges in adapting to and recovering from these disasters because there isn’t any resilience”. The Minister explained.

The Minister further emphasised the need for inclusive and sustainable practices and supporting vulnerable groups to the last mile in combating the extreme effects of weather events on the food system.

This year’s theme ‘Fighting inequality for the resilient future ‘ aligns with the inclusiveness position of the United Nations to ensure that no one is left behind.

To this end, stakeholders have been urged to join the conversation and promote the fight against inequality in order to build a resilient future for Nigeria.

 

Dominica Nwabufo