Mr Samuel Akingbehin, National President, Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria (EHOAN), on Friday, called for the establishment of an effective emergency response machinery in the country.
Akingbehin made the call in Lokoja during a courtesy visit on the Kogi Commissioner for Environment, Malam Sanusi Yahaya, after an assessment of the effect of the recent flood on communities in the state.
The EHOAN president said it was important for an emergency response machinery to be in place in coastal areas as well states along the downstream flow of major rivers and water bodies in the country.
Akingbehin attributed the recent flood in Kogi and other states to heavy torrential rainfall, release of water from Lagdo Dam in the Camerouns as well as Jebba and Kainji dams.
He said the development had affected health, environment, economic and socio-cultural lives of several communities.
The EHOAN president suggested the procurement and installation of geo-scientific equipment for early detection of natural disasters.
According to him, the equipment, if installed, will warn of hazardous weather conditions ahead of time and the disaster can either be arrested or its effect minimised.
Akingbemi further called for strengthening of river banks with retaining walls and dredging to control erosion of banks as well as construction of drainage networks; primary, secondary and tertiary categories.
He advised the federal and state governments to build relationships with neighbouring countries on environmental and health sensitive issues for sensitisation and necessary mobilisation of susceptible communities and people.
The official also suggested the creation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps with upgraded capacity, facilities and adequate sanitary conveniences for the affected communities.
Responding, Yahaya commended EHOAN for being the first professional association to identify with the state in dealing with the disaster.
The commissioner said nine local government areas were affected by the flood with farmlands submerged, lives lost and communities displaced.
He said the entire Ibaji Local Government Area was submerged and the people had to be relocated to Idah.
Yahaya said the water level had moved up to 10.84 metres as at Thursday against 7.1 metres, three weeks ago and might surpass the 12.8 metres it reached on Sept. 29, 2012, with devastating effect.
Describing the flood as a national emergency, the commissioner appealed to all Nigerians, institutions and agencies to support Kogi in all areas of sustenance including sanitation and provision of food items and other relief items for the IDPs.
“We are two meters away from the peak level of 2012 and we appeal to everyone in the country to come to our aid in various areas.
“Now, we are constrained to use our schools as IDP camps. This is a national emergency,” the commissioner implored.