The Director General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mohammed Sani Sidi has said that contributions of older people are neglected during the time of emergency by the younger ones. In his welcome address at 2014 International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) he said, “Lack of public awareness and information about older people’s contributions, circumstances, issues or needs creates negative images of aging…” Older women contribute in many ways: as income generators, caring for children, the sick or the orphaned defendants; teaching younger people, especially by their example of co-operative action…” The theme of this year’s event is “Older People and disasters – 2014 “Resilience is for life”.
The NEMA boss, who was represented by the Director of Training, Daniel Balarabe Gambo, also regretted that few Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), include older people among their target group because of the misconception tbat older people are difficult to train, not open to new ideas and unable to participate effectively in community and economic activities.
He said that the lack of public awareness and information about older people’s contributions, circumstances, issue or needs, created negative image for them.
“Older peoples’ responsibilities and knowledge -based should be recognised and built on, older people want to challenge the common image held of them as disabled, unproductive and dependent’ he said.
The UN was represented at occasion by the UN Country Representative Dr. Toure. In his goodwill message he commended NEMA thus;
“I must take this opportunity to commend NEMA for the wonderful job that they are doing in disaster preparedness and response. In fact, it is one of the best on the continent of Africa.”
Dr. Toure noted that it was important to have NEMA as an emergency agency.
“It is crucial to have an agency like NEMA. The cooperation with NEMA from my office as the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the UN System spans on many areas starting with the development of joint programme with NEMA in looking at various disasters in the country.”
It is important to focus on older people because when there is disaster, their mobility is limited. You have to plan for elderly people knowing that there mobility is limited with time.
He, however, said: “That is not to say they are liabilities; for most of the time they are also assets to our communities because they have lived similar experiences that have allowed them to know how to cope, and to also come to the rescue of the younger generation”, he concluded.
The event was attended by some NGOs and members of the civil society that are stakeholders in disaster management.