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NEMA urges synergy with donors, governments to curb palliative distribution chaos

Food distribution by the World Food Programme

The North-Central Zonal Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Bashir Garga, has advised potential donors and state governments to synergise with NEMA to curb palliative sharing challenges.

Mr Garga advised in an interview with journalists on Sunday in Jos.

The zonal director said that crowd control during the distribution of palliatives, amidst skyrocketing commodity prices, was crucial to ensuring order, fairness, and safety.

He stated that meticulous planning, including identifying suitable distribution points, assessing potential crowd sizes, and implementing efficient queuing systems, was essential.

Mr Garga also emphasised that utilising personnel, such as security officers and volunteers skilled in crowd management techniques, was vital to maintaining control and diffusing any potential conflicts.

The Director’s advice came on the heels of the stampede during the Nigeria Customs’ palliative distribution, and the Friday stampede at Nasarawa State University, Keffi.

He said that the recent incident was a repeat of another ugly experience after the Port Harcourt incident, where people died in the process of food distribution by one faith-based organisation.

Additionally, disseminating instructions on proper queuing etiquette, maintaining social distancing, and adhering to safety protocols is crucial to mitigating the risk of chaos or stampedes during the distribution process.

“Emergency and disaster managers should leverage this and inform potential donors and governments within their jurisdictions to collaborate with NEMA/SEMA when distributing scarce commodities in an impoverished setting, to guard against loss of lives.

“Clear communication is paramount throughout the process.

“Providing advance notice of distribution schedules, locations, and eligibility criteria, helps manage expectations and reduce frustration among recipients.

“Additionally, disseminating instructions on proper queuing etiquette, maintaining social distancing, and adhering to safety protocols is crucial to mitigating the risk of chaos or stampedes during the distribution process.

“Moreover, employing technology can streamline the distribution process and enhance crowd control efforts,” he said.

Mr Garga emphasised that deploying registration systems, ticketing, or digital vouchers, could help regulate crowd and ensure fairness in distribution.

According to him, leveraging social media and community networks to disseminate information and address concerns in real-time, can also ensure a smoother and more organised distribution process.

Mr Garga added that this would ultimately ensure that palliatives reached those in need, efficiently and safely.

The director concluded that a lack of defined methods and protocols of distribution could lead to stampedes with fatal consequences. (NAN)

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