ABUJA – Stakeholders in Disaster Management weekend commended the initiative of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in organising training for them.
They made the commendations in an interview with newsmen in Abuja, at the end of the three-day training workshop on “Strengthening humanitarian preparedness in Nigeria.’’
The training focused on the role of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) in emergency response.
The workshop also aimed at enlightening stakeholders on the importance of synergy between key players in responding to emergency situations, adding that they need to collaborate for effective results.
The stakeholders included participants from NEMA headquarters, and its Zonal offices, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMAs), the Nigerian Red Cross, UNDP, representative from the Ministry of Communication Technology, and the Media.
Others were from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
According to them, the training was very important as they have learnt about using new and alternative technologies which are more reliable when performing search and rescue operations.
They said that the workshop was also timely to keep them abreast with the use of ICT infrastructure in emergency response, especially with the current insurgency and emergency situations in the country.
Mr Abdulkadiri Ibrahim, the Media and Information Officer, NEMA North-East Zone, said that the knowledge gathered was very helpful especially as poor telecommunication from network providers was a challenge to effective performance in the insurgency affected areas.
He said that most times, the insurgent groups destroy the telecommunication facilities resulting to lack of connectivity which disrupts rescue operations.
“As you are aware, the North-East has been the hot bed of the insurgency and of the major challenges that we have encountered during our operation is the inaccessibility of locations and distorted communication channels.
“I have gathered from here on how to use alternative ICT facilities on the field in communicating with the office.
“This would help to make response faster,’’ Ibrahim said.
Mr Patricks Ogbuma, Technical Adviser to the Director, ICT Ministry of Communication Technology, said that in this age, the importance of ICT in emergency management could not be over-emphasised.
He said that the workshop was also an opportunity for them to create a platform for a better collaboration between NEMA and the ministry.
Ogbuma said this had become very important as the ministry was charged with overseeing the use of ICT and its related issues in the country.
“Overtime, we have had issues of disasters with less effective response mechanisms but now, ICT has become a better tool in resolving these issues.
“Although it comes with a cost, it is a necessity,’’ Ogbuma said.
Mrs Uche Ezeonyeasi, the Executive Secretary, SEMA, Imo state, said that the use of ICT would bring a better coordination between the SEMA in various states and the NEMA Zonal offices which would also enhance synergy.
She said that it was also important for participants representing various geo-political zones to organise similar trainings in their offices and for humanitarian organisations in their states.
The workshop which began on Thursday was organised by WFP in collaboration with NEMA for stakeholders to strengthen their humanitarian preparedness in disaster response.