Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Project-Affected Persons and beneficiaries of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) in Anambra State have expressed joy over the rescue from the devastating effect of flood and gully erosion and the economic benefits from the Project’s livelihood enhancement activities.
They shared their testimonies while meeting with members of NEWMAP Data Validation Mission who were presently in Anambra State to assess the impact of the Project on the lives of the people in different parts of the State.
The delegation yesterday visited some gully sites and locations of the business outfits of the Community Interest Groups (CIGs). The areas visited were Abagana Gully Site; Nkpor Fly-Over Gully Site; New Heritage/Omogba Gully Site, Onitsha; St. Thomas Aquinas/Neros Plaza Site, Awka and the Amachalla Gully Site. While civil work is on-going at the Abagana and Nkpor Fly-Over Sites; the New Heritage/Omogba site is 95% completed while the St. Thomas Aquinas/Neros Plaza and the Amachalla Gully Sites have been completed and handed over.
The CIGs inspected by the Mission include Umunne Cassava Processing Mill; Uzoamaka Poultry Farm and Pig Farm, as well as Ifeadigo Grasscutter Farm, all attached to Abagana Gully Site. Others were Divine Favour Fish Farm; Success Poultry Farm; Olegu Snail farm and Unic Animal Processing- Pig Farm affiliated to New Heritage/Omogba Gully Site, Onitsha.
Receiving the visiting team at Abagana Gully Site on behalf of Anambra State Project Management Unit, the Environmental Safeguards Officer, Mr. Ejike Onuchukwu explained that civil works at the site began in November 2019 by a new contractor for a completion period of 24 months.
Mr. Onuchukwu added that the project was partially completed with bioremediation and perimeter fencing on-going.
A physically-challenged project beneficiary in the area, Mr. Patrick Chukwumelu, disclosed that it had been a harrowing experience for him and other residents to access other parts of the community which had been cut into two by the gully before the NEWMAP intervention and expressed gratitude to the Project, the State Government, Federal Government and the World Bank for helping to bring the community together.
Mr. Tony Igwe, a resident of St Thomas Aquinas/Neros Plaza said it was “always nightmarish prior to NEWMAP intervention as the road leading to his residence was practically impassable” and asserted that on completion of the remediation work, he became “convinced that Government is working”.
On her part, Mrs. Anthonia Offodile described NEWMAP as ‘another messiah’ following the reclamation works that saved her property and the Amachalla community from extinction by the ravaging flood and gully erosion.
In all the CIG locations in the State, leaders of the groups expressed appreciation to NEWMAP and relevant authorities for the unexpected livelihood enhancement activities which, they testified to, had changed their lives by providing them with means of livelihood.
In the words of Mrs Njideka Obasi of Success Poultry, “we have been sharing chickens and profit”. Representatives of the National Project Coordinator of NEWMAP, Mrs. Ruth Peter-Mshelia and Mukhtar Yakubu Tanko also spoke on the impact of the Project.
Mrs. Peter-Mshelia, who is the Social Livelihood Specialist, expressed satisfaction with the performance of the operators of the CIGs and asserted that there was value for money in the project implementation in the State.
She advised the people to refrain from wrongful termination of drains and poor waste management practices which she identified as some of the causes of gullies.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Mukhtar Yakubu Tanko explained that the impact of the Project on the lives of the people was clear to all and the achievements tremendous.
He disclosed that the objectives of the Data Validation Mission were being met in the State. On his part, the Project Coordinator of Anambra State NEWMAP, Mr. Mike Ivenso, pointed out that there were several dimensions to the achievements of NEWMAP in the State, including direct intervention in gullies, thereby helping to save lives and properties in the three senatorial districts of the State.
Mr. Ivenso, who described the impact of NEWMAP as transformational, identified the support and ownership of the Project by the State Governor as a key factor in the success story.
The Project Coordinator informed the team that the State was handling remediation works in 13 gully sites across the State with about 25 CIGs and assured that the communities would be integrated into the Project in order to give them a sense of ownership.