Unguarded information about disasters worrisome – NEMA

The Director General, National Emergency Management Agency, Habib Ahmed, on Wednesday said unguarded information about disasters remained a challenge which the agency was making efforts to address to avoid cases of secondary disaster.

Ahmed who cited reportage of the recent Lagos building collapse in the media, said, “It has become worrisome because most of these reports are not handed professionally especially in the social media that release news and information about disasters without caution”.

The NEMA DG, represented by the Head, NEMA Ekiti Operations Office, who spoke in Ado Ekiti during a one-day workshop for media practitioners with the theme, ‘The roles of the media in disaster management,’ said that the media owed it a responsibility to disseminate information on actions to be taken to prevent escalation when disasters happen.

He said, “Releasing information about a disaster is not a bad idea, but the reporter needs to think of the effect of such report on the audience and consideration of the fact that the victims have families. Such report without caution may cause a secondary disaster to the family members.”

“If such information is not properly managed, it can aggravate disasters and worsen the situation,” he said, urging the media “to focus more on disaster preventive measures as a way of sensitizing the populace on necessary things to prevent disaster in their environments or communities”

In the lecture, titled, ‘Roles of the media in disaster management, Principal Search and Rescue Officer, NEMA Ekiti, Simisaye Azeez, said that the inclusion of risk reduction mechanism in school curricular, had helped in mitigating and prevent disasters in the country.

Azeez said Nigeria had gained tremendously from the initiative of NEMA working with institutions of government to ensure disaster management strategies were taught at the elementary level and as well becoming a course of study at the tertiary level.

He said, “NEMA influenced integration of risk reduction disasters’ prevention in the school curricular. Disaster can be reduced if people imbibe prevention culture and develop it, it helps to reduce disasters at the grassroots level, where it normally happen.

“NEMA created a platform through which disaster management can be taught up to the university level. NEMA also worked with the Ministry of Education to ensure that emergency management is taught at the primary level, so that the message can start sinking into our citizens minds right from childhood.

“NEMA in partnership with the National Youth Service Corps also established emergency management vanguards using Corps members to form disaster reduction clubs in schools,” he said.

SOURCE: THE PUNCH

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