16 August, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria - It was an epic knowledge sharing event when the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Rivers State Government organized a 2-week Special Training Programme on Flood Disaster Risk Management in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria from 5 – 16 August 2013.

The objectives of the training were to evaluate the extent of flood risk and vulnerability and assess the response capacity in the context of Rivers State, discuss appropriate structural and non-structural measures for flood risk mitigation, and develop preparedness and response plans for flood risk reduction in the state, among others. The crucial training also formed part of activities in the 2013 - 2015 UNITAR/Rivers State work plan which highlights various courses that will empower officials across Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) of the Rivers State Government with requisite skills and prepare them to be more effective in meeting today’s growing development challenges.  

The training drew a total of 25 participants from the Ministry of Special Duties, Line Ministries such as Environment, Health, Power, Water Resources, Housing, as well as other relevant agencies and stakeholders critical to the achievement of the government’s renewed effort to address the challenges of floods in the state.
Declaring the training open, the Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Amechi, who was represented by the Commissioner for Energy, Chief Okey Amadi, said that the State entered into partnership with UNITAR to expose personnel in the State to training required to confront the challenges of flooding more skillfully.
Rivers State Commissioner for Special Duties, Barrister Dickson Umunakwe, pointed out that the training would afford participants the opportunity to garner new skills, explore better ways of doing things, and get exposed to up-to-date methodologies in flood disaster management.
Addressing the gathering, UNITAR Nigeria Head/Res Rep, Dr Larry Boms described the training as another milestone in the UNITAR/Rivers State partnership. He expressed confidence that the programme will empower the participants with the requisite skills to be more effective in addressing challenges of flooding and related challenges associated with climate change.

A team of experienced flood disaster risk management resource persons who facilitated the training sessions came from the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Bangkok, Thailand, led by the organization’s deputy executive director, Mr. N.M.S.I.Arambepola.
Presentations focused on broad areas such as concepts and definitions in flood disaster risk management and climate change; flood hazards; flood risk assessment; overview of integrated management; structural and non-structural interventions; public awareness and capacity building for flood management; resilience for flood disasters; and stakeholder analysis, among others. Each presentation was followed by discussion which enabled participants to make clarifications and contribute to the issues. Drawing experiences from several case studies, the course also included visit to flood sites, group assignments, video sessions, and other interactive methods. Daily feedback sessions and a final assessment on the last day enabled the course facilitators and UNITAR representatives to assess participants’internalisation of the training modules and applications.

A communiqué issued at the training provided far-reaching recommendations, including the need for “budgetary provision of funds for flood disaster and other emergencies, setting up of an institutional framework for the establishment of State Emergency Management Agency, and incorporation of Disaster Management/Disaster Risk Reduction into school curriculum in the State", among others.  

At a closing ceremony marking the end of the training, certificates were issued to all participants for their commitment. Expressing appreciation to the Rivers State Government for its support to UNITAR, Dr Larry Boms said the Institute wo
uld offer its assistance to the State to effectively deploy existing GIS facilities installed in collaboration with UNITAR in the management of flooding and other disasters in the State. Participants thanked UNITAR and the Rivers State government for the training, and assured that the experience garnered will be put into practice. From the responses by the participants and the wide publicity given to the training, it can easily be adjudged that the training achieved its stated objectives.



Image 1: Larry Boms, PhD, Head/Res Rep UNITAR Nigeria givinghis address

Image 2: Group photo of participants