Monday, 16 November 2015

WORLD BANK—NEWMAP Tackles 18 Gully Erosion Menace in Anambra

Erosion site at Omogba, Onitsha

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

Anambra State is one of the states in the country with a significant part of its landmass under severe threat of flood and soil erosion hazards having recorded over 1000 gully cases within its 177 communities such as Oko, Nanka, Ebenebe, etc.

The gullies have environmentally degraded the areas where they occurred and adversely affected the socioeconomic lives of the affected communities, human and natural resources, and constitute dangers to transportation and other means of livelihood.

Ongoing erosion remiationsite. Pictured by Okechukwu Onuegbu

Findings had shown that these vast cases of land degradation that developed into full blown gully erosion sites were caused by human activities through the indiscriminate dumping of waste products, felling of trees and an increased runoff harvest due to rapid land use development (private and public buildings) and infrastructures, drainage congestion, etc.

As a result, the Federal Government of Nigeria in collaboration with the World Bank and its partners in the implementation of the multi-sectoral Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) in the course of the year implemented what it termed Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) as part of the conditions for the erosion control and intervention in four (4) erosion areas in the state namely, Amachalla gully in Awka South, Uruokpala-Umudunu erosion in Abagana Njikoka LGA, St. Thomas Aquinas/Nero Plaza in Awka, and the New Heritage erosion site at Omogba, Onitsha.  

RAP which was designed by the World Bank to pay compensations to the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) through the project management unit of NEWMAP dispensed about N60 (sixty million naira) to those the project would affect so as to cushion the negative impact the action would have on them.

Similarly, NEWMAP engaged the services of Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Community Resource Management and Conservation Initiative/African Centre for Rural Development and Environmental (CRMCI/ACERDEN) for sensitisation and mobilisation of community members for the support of the ongoing erosion projects; and an Australian engineering firm, Smec International Pty Ltd for provision of engineering design and supervision for the erosion sites.

NEWMAP has equally provided for hands-on training of engineering and operational staff of the state in skill transfer; identified, trained and empowered the affected persons, even as it currently works on developing engineering design for remediation of15 more new erosion sites in Anambra State.

Speaking in an interview after supervising the ongoing remediation works at Abagana, the NEWMAP Task Team Leader (TTL), Dr. Amos Abu explained that the objective had been to rehabilitate degraded lands and reduce long-term erosion vulnerability, immediate stoppage of active gully sites, to save and improve the lives of the affected persons through capacity building and empowerment for job creation and alternative source of income.

Dr. Abu said: “We have come to improve the livelihood of the people that lives in shadows and perimeters of the gully. By so doing, we restore lives, joy, jobs, and so on through civil works. Community associations, groups and other have been mobilised, integrated and registered as legal entity, and their capacity built on basic accounting and community procurement measure. We are going to provide them with resources in terms of grant, closely monitored to ensure its judicious utilization. Women will benefit a minimum of 50% in this project.

“The community members have responsibility of taking ownership of the project by working with the site committee in the monitoring and supervision of the work to ensure compliance to project specification and quality, provide manual labourers for the contractor at a reasonable cost, identify issues that could derail the project, support project impacts and mitigation measures, promote environmental awareness, liaise with the SPMU to ensure proper understanding of project activities at all times.

“The state and federal government approved and released 500million each as counterpart support fund. We are happy and satisfied at the pace of the ongoing projects, and we are sure that the jobs would be executed perfectly. This is because we have best engineers, best designers, best monitoring and evaluation teams, etc. for efficient and optimum service delivery” he submitted.

On his part, the NEWMAP National Project Coordinator, Engr Salisu Dahiru disclosed that for a erosion site to qualify for the NEWMAP intervention, it must meet some certain criteria which include the state of gully, population of the affected persons (segmented by poverty rate), risk to human life, risk to built and natural assets, local level participation and commitment, and simplicity of intervention measures.

He however noted that sites are been selected by each NEWMAP participating state through a State Project Management Unit (SPMU), who oversees the implementation of the project in the state, and responsible for the supervision and the general intervention project at sites with the support of the Engineering supervision firms and the community represented by the various community site committees.

On possibility of completing the ongoing gully mediation works as expected, the Contractor handling Uruokpala-Umudunu erosion in Abagana, Engr Agomuo of Agonic Associates Nig. Ltd assured speedy work and strict compliance to the March 2016 deadline, while his counterparts at New Heritage erosion, Omogba, NIC&NIC Construction Company through its manager, Chukwuemeka Ogbu maintained that theirs would be completed on December, 2015 instead of May 2016 deadline.

This is even as Anambra State Government through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Mr Benjamin Uzoka assured the NEWMAP that the state would continue to support them to achieve their desired objective.

Meanwhile, speaking in separate interviews, some of the leaders of benefiting communities, Chief Innocent Obasi of Omogba and Geoffrey Nzeakor of Uruokpala maintained that effective monitoring team had been set-up for judicious use and maintenance of the projects after completion.

Analysts on the other hand, stressed the needs for various stakeholders on erosion control to educate the populace on local best flood and erosion control through forestation, stopping of bush burning, and to articulate layout planning and master plan for land use development and good disposal mechanism since members of the society consume much polythene materials such as sachet water and other plastic packages that contribute to gully erosion.



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