The United Nations has expressed its readiness to partner with the Bayelsa State Government on flood management and other related environmental issues in order to mitigate the likely effects of the impending flood this year as predicted by the Nigerian Meterological Agency.
Expressing concern over the devastating effects of the 2012 flooding on the people of the State, the United Nations Under- Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness Valerie Amos during her two days working visit to the state at the weekend, stressed the need for prompt response to flood victims.
Amos who was accompanied by some top UN functionaries, said she was in the State to assess the situation and see how her office can be of assistance to the affected people.
In her words, “I am here in Bayelsa to see for myself the impact of the devastating flood of last year. I have had the opportunity to talk to the ordinary people and the Post Flood Management and Response Committee on the efforts they made in the provision of food, shelter and other relief materials.
“There are lessons to be learnt and we would like to work with the state government and federal authorities to support and partner in strengthening of preparedness activities and look at ways in which we can assist with technical support”.
The UN envoy noted that the World body was willing to collaborate with the state to identify technical expertise to support the people in the event of a recurrence of the flood.
“I am aware that funds are required to rebuild infrastructure but that is not within my powers in the United Nations, but I have undertaken to work with the state to see if we can identify areas where funding may be made available.”
In his remarks, Governor Seriake Dickson lamented the impact of last year’s flood, stating that the total cost of the devastation ran into hundreds of billions of naira.
He described Bayelsa as an ecologically endangered state as it is below sea level and called for the support of the UN and other donor agencies especially in the area of funding and technical expertise.
According to the Governor, “all our communities were actually turned to relief camps. And so there was need for us to create awareness and step up advocacy not just for purposes of asking for support for the victims of the disaster last year but also to enable us get across to partners who will work with us to continue to address what is turning out to be a yearly challenge.
On proactive measures being taken by government, Hon. Dickson said a technical team headed by the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Lawrence Ewrudjakpor has been constituted to among other things, open up the natural courses of water in the Yenagoa metropolis.
Alerting the people on the impending flood as predicted by NIMET, the Governor stated, “you are all aware of the grim warnings by NIMET but while we keep praying we also need to step up our preparation
“Clearly, the challenge of finding a lasting solution to this problem is certainly beyond the capacity of the state and even the federal government. So it is important that we collaborate to raise funds”
According to the Governor, committees will also be set up at the local government level to build dykes and temporary shelters for displaced persons as part of proactive measures at the grassroots.
While thanking Baroness Valerie for the visit, he urged the people to brace up for the challenges ahead and advised them not to build on natural drains.
Later at a State Banquet organized in her honour at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Yenagoa, Baroness Valerie was conferred with an Honorary Citizenship of the state in recognition of her role at the UN and was also given an Ijaw name, “Eyilaere” meaning, an important woman.
Baroness Valerie had earlier on arrival, visited Imiringi community in Ogbia local government area and some other parts of the state affected by the 2012 floods.