The Lagos State Government has announced its intention to set up an Emergency Trust Fund (LSETF) for the effective management and reduction of disaster risks in the state. The fund will support the capacity building and equipment procurement of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), which is responsible for coordinating emergency response and recovery efforts in the state.

The announcement was made by the Permanent Secretary of LASEMA, Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, during a two-day management retreat held at Agidingbi, Ikeja on Saturday. The retreat, which had the theme “Promoting Sustainable Development through Disaster Risk Reduction”, was attended by the Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Mr Olugbenga Oyerinde, and other stakeholders.

The Need for Disaster Risk Reduction in Lagos

Lagos is one of the fastest growing and most populous cities in the world, with a high human development index and a large economy. It also faces many challenges such as urban pressure, climate change, and natural hazards that pose a threat to its sustainable development and the well-being of its residents.

To address these challenges, the Lagos State Government has adopted the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to achieve peace and prosperity for the world, now and in the future. One of the SDGs is Goal 11, which focuses on making cities and communities sustainable and resilient to disasters.

The Lagos State Government has also aligned itself with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which was adopted at the 3rd United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan in March 2015. The framework provides a global blueprint for reducing disaster risks and enhancing resilience by addressing the exposure, vulnerability, capacity, and characteristics of hazards.

The Role of LASEMA and the Local Emergency Management Committees

LASEMA is the agency mandated by the Lagos State Government to coordinate and manage all emergency and disaster-related matters in the state. It operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, and works in collaboration with other relevant agencies and stakeholders.

LASEMA has established Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs) in all the 57 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state. The LEMCs are expected to take the lead in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from any disaster and its effects at the grassroots level.

The Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Mr Olugbenga Oyerinde, urged the management of LASEMA to ensure that the LEMCs are fully functional and active, as they are vital for the implementation of the disaster risk reduction strategies in the state.

He also called on the LASEMA staff to uphold the core values of teamwork, prioritization, risk assessment, partnership, and critical response, as they look forward to a prosperous new year 2024.

The Benefits of the Emergency Trust Fund

The Permanent Secretary of LASEMA, Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, revealed that the Emergency Trust Fund, if all the legal frameworks are completed, will cater for the agency’s human capacity building and procurement of more sophisticated equipment to meet the emergency demands of residents in Lagos and its environs.

He said that the fund will enable LASEMA to provide more efficient and effective services to the public, and to achieve its vision of becoming a world-class emergency management agency.

He also stressed the need for team spirit among staff and inter-agencies in the present administration, as they work together to ensure the safety and security of lives and properties in the state.

The Importance of Mental Health and Work-Life Balance

A Consultant Medical Expert, Dr Oluwakemi Olayinka, spoke on the importance of prioritizing mental health and achieving work-life balance for the first responders, who are exposed to stressful and traumatic situations during emergency operations. She advised the first responders to engage in regular medical check-ups and to seek professional help when necessary. She also advocated for the establishment of a psycho-therapy unit in LASEMA to cater for the mental well-being of staff, as they cope with the challenges of their work.

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