CDRMDS Mobilises Stakeholders On Disaster Risk Response Measures

Issues bordering on modalities for disaster risk reduction, response mechanisms, vulnerability and risk management formed the main thrust of the maiden edition of the Regional Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction organised by the Centre for Disaster Risk Management and Development Studies (CDRMDS) in the University of Port Harcourt.
The event which took place last Tuesday at the Amatu Braide Lecture Hall, University Park, with the theme: Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies and Sustainable Development in the 21st Century, attracted participants from all walks of life.
Speaking at the occasion, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, described the theme of the conference as timely, commending the organisers for attracting such high quality participation. “Nigeria, particularly, the South-South geopolitical zone of our dear country is currently experiencing increasing occurrences of both natural and anthropogenic disasters with consequent physical, economic and social dislocation of our people in recent times,” the Vice-Chancellor said, adding that “the ferocious effects of the 2012 flash floods in parts of the country make a compelling case for policy makers and stakeholders to intensify action on disaster risk reduction on a national scale.”
Represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Professor Anthony Ibe, the Vice-Chancellor said: “It is imperative for all stakeholders in this critical specialisation to consider increased capacity building for disaster risk reduction and strengthening our resilience as strategies for sustaining development in this region as a matter of necessity.” He assured the stakeholders that the University administration would continue to support the Centre to make it a reference model in the University and the rest of the country.
Also speaking, Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Augustine Igbuku, stated that academic and research institutions have a major role to play in innovative and proactive management of disaster risks, rather than reactive management of such occurrences. He added that components of the environment that made the Niger Delta prone to disasters should be identified through quality research and recommendations from such research agencies as CDRMDS.

Mr. Igbuku, who is also the Environment Manager of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Port Harcourt added: “It is more cost effective in terms of health, environment, material and economics to avert disasters than to manage them; it has become increasingly obvious to all stakeholders that being agents of sustainable development demands that we challenge negative practices that invite disasters to our doorsteps with far-reaching implications.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Acting Director of the Centre, Dr. Prince Mmom, said that the Centre which is a collaborating unit of the University and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), was established to provide professional training at the postgraduate level in Disaster Risk Management and Development Studies, assist NEMA in training and research in disaster risk management and development, establish baseline information for disaster risk management,  as well as work with NEMA to develop research and training programmes to cover the broad spectrum of activities in the Disaster Risk Management Circle. 
Dr. Mmom added that the objective of the conference was to bring together stakeholders in the South-South to brainstorm on evolving veritable strategies for reducing disaster risks in the region. He also said that the conference was convened to raise awareness amongst stakeholders in the South-South region on the consequences of their actions and inactions in aggravating disaster risks in society, amongst other goals.
The event which attracted the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration) from Federal University, Laffia, Professor Martin Ogbe, who delivered a keynote address entitled: Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss: Major Natural Challenges in the 21st Century, also featured goodwill messages from Chairman of the Rivers State House of Assembly Committee on Environment, Mr. Christian Ahiakwo, and Director-General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Regulatory Agency (NOSDRA) who was represented by Mr. Ken Aroh.
Over 30 papers on the theme of the conference were presented with the lead paper by NUC LEADS scholar, Professor Vincent Idemyor of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.


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