HAZARD RESPONSE CAPABILITIES OF A SMALL COMMUNITY

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ABSTRACT

Shiroro dam is one of the three major hydroelectric dams built on River Kaduna in Niger State located in the northwestern part of Nigeria. The river flood plain downstream the dam has rich alluvial soils with great agricultural potentials and this has been the major pull factor for several local communities that settled in the area and engaged in farming as a means of livelihood. However, the downstream communities are exposed to flooding and other hazards related to their livelihood activities and living pattern. A study on rural hazards identification and vulnerability assessment was conducted in Gusoro and Gurmana villages of Shiroro Local Government Area at the downstream sector of Shiroro dam in February, 2012.

The study relied on direct field survey using the instruments of oral interview, questionnaire survey and field measurements for data collection. The results form data analysis indicated, among others, that the communities were exposed to floods, erosion and health hazards as well as the risk of building collapse and environmental degradation.

The local coping strategies of building concentration on higher grounds, construction of elevated footpaths and embankments were found to be primitive and unsustainable. The problems of high level of illiteracy, poverty and dependent population (about50%) as well as low or complete lack of access to safe drinking water, health facilities, basic infrastructure and credit facilities (18.1%) make the people highly vulnerable. Hazard Response The level of preparedness was low as there were no disaster management committees, local disaster management institutions and local disaster plan.

All this reduced community resilience and increased the vulnerability of the people. Hazard Response The study suggested the provision of basic facilities, vigorous awareness education and the institution of integrated community based hazard response capabilities programmes as practical measures for reducing the risk of disasters in the area.

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

1.1  Background of the Study

The world is regularly shaken by disasters, which are steadily increasing in both intensity and frequency. They are associated with the degradation of the environment and uncontrolled urbanization, two factors that are closely linked to a third factor: rapid population growth. The challenge of achieving sustainable development lies in reducing the impact of disasters on the results of development, by promoting development processes that contribute to reducing disaster risks. Drastic measures are required to bring about a significant reduction in the effects of disasters, which plunge countless communities into situations of greater insecurity and persistent vulnerability to disaster. A close link exists between livelihood security and hazard response capabilities, because disasters exert considerable pressure on livelihoods and development.

Globally, average annual losses caused by disasters associated with natural hazards rose from US$ 75.5 thousand million in the 1960s, to US$ 213.9 thousand million in the 1980s and to US$ 659.9 thousand million in the 1990s. Between 1980 and 2000, disasters claimed over 1.5 million human lives. In 2000, the insurance industry received claims for some 850 disasters, which cost companies about US$ 80 thousand million. The impact of disasters on the poor is much greater, because, unlike people in wealthier countries, they risk losing their entire livelihood and have no insurance cover. Worse still, they risk losing their lives, because of either the disaster itself or the ensuing economic hardship. Communities, especially those that are already battling with a host of development problems and have a limited capacity to undertake reconstruction, risk sinking further into poverty (World Disasters Report, 2002).

In a disaster-prone country like India, disaster management requires that it not only relies on its own experience and knowledge of disasters, but also incorporates the information, experiences and technical know-how that it can obtain from other countries in order to formulate an effective disaster management strategy with a vision of future needs and new progresses in this field. (Global Forum for Disaster Reduction, 2013)

In the African context, the Africa Regional Strategy for Hazard response capabilities was adopted in 2004 by the African Union. Its Plan of implementation complements this global framework for action. Following the adoption of this regional strategy, efforts have focused on the adoption of sub regional strategies for hazard response capabilities. This constitutes an important step forward in the risk reduction process. Africa, like other continents, not only faces the
problem of poverty, which makes people vulnerable, and is therefore a major risk factor, but also other problems, including; weak economic growth; income inequality; fragile agricultural economies largely dependent on natural resources; and demographic and social factors, such as high population growth, rapid urbanization and the rural exodus.