Tuesday, 12 July 2016

No State Can Tackle Erosion Menace Alone—NEWMAP



(interview)

 
In this recent interview with our reporter, Okechukwu Onuegbu, the Project Coordinator for Anambra State Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP),  Michael Ivenso bares his mind on the impact of erosion in the state and the effort of his agency towards tackling erosion menance. Excerpts:

Michael Ivenso

What is NEWMAP?

NEWMAP is an acronym for the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed management Project. It was specifically designed to support Nigeria’s effort at combating the menace of erosion owing to climate change, increased precipitation and some runoffs that causes large amount of gullies to be formed. Its mandate is to tackle erosion and provide remediation for the impacted catchments, that is, the area of gullies and the communities around the areas which contribute to the formation of these gullies. This is NEWMAP’s primary objectives.

Anambra State is believed to be the mother of all gullies. So, how many erosion sites do we actually have in the State, and their possible effect to the environment?

There are about 960 geo-referenced erosion sites in Anambra state. More gullies are formed as rainfall intensity increases, caused by climate change.
These gully erosion is characterized by
§   Very Active Soil Movement and Land-slide
§   Fatalities
§   Displacement of Families, Homestead & Communities
§   Severe Land & Environmental Degradation
§   Damage to Critical Infrastructure – Roads, Power Lines etc
§   Destruction of Schools, Churches, Businesses etc
§   Loss of Arable Land & Livelihoods

What is your take on erosion menace in Anambra State generally?

Anambra State is the 2nd smallest state in the Nigeria in terms of land mass with about 4,844 sq km, it has lost and still losing so much land to erosion and flooding. It is very pathetic when you hear and see the everyday stories of victims of this menace. We keep on calling on the world not to allow us perish while at the same time calling on our people to save themselves while waiting on the larger world. We need to have a complete turnaround in terms of attitude and behavior towards the environment. The environment doesn’t need us, we need the environment and we need to take care of the environment for it to take care of us.

What are the efforts of the state government in tackling Erosion?

The Governor Willie Obiano’s led administration has committed huge investment to tackling erosion and flood menace in Anambra. This is especially noteworthy because erosion, flood and all forms of land degradation places significant financial burden on the State, especially in the current fiscal climate.

However, the State government alone cannot effectively tackle the environmental problems. As a result, he has sought for the assistance of funding partners within and outside Nigeria. To further demonstrate his commitment to the plight of Ndi-Anambra, Gov. Obiano has fully paid a N500M counterpart fund to access a loan facility from the World Bank to tackle erosion in the state, through Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP).

Also, during the recently-concluded Anambra World Environment Day, the Governor called for global action of erosion and other forms of land degradation, seeking assistance of private, corporate and international donors to assist Ndi-Anambra.

What are the latest World Bank interventions in tackling Erosion in the State?

Like our governor announced the 2016 World Environment Day celebration held in the state, the State Government has secured approval of the World Bank for its immediate intervention in four new erosion sites in the State. These include Ugamumma Obosi, Ikenga-Ogidi, Abidi Umuoji and Enugwu Ukwu erosion sites. Already, the World Bank’s intervention work has reached an advanced stage at 4 sites such as (Omogba Onitsha, Umudunu Abagana, Amachalla and St.Thomas Aquinas/Nero’s plaza).
It may also interest you to note that four other sites of Nnewi-ichi, Ire Obosi, Nkpor Bridge by New Tarzan and Ojoto have also been earmarked for intervention with their Engineering Designs and feasibility study ready for approval by the International Body.

But do you think that the state can tackle the erosion menace alone?

I think this has been answered in your previous question. Anambra State alone cannot solve its erosion menace because it keeps on increasing in magnitude and size each raining season, and the government is also committed to developing other sectors like health, agriculture, education, roads, e. t. c. So there are too many challenges making it difficult for a state government to tackle erosion problem without partners. That is why the state government is partnering with the World Bank towards remediating these gullies. And we are still appealing for assistance from other international bodies apart from the World Bank.

But what are the likely causes of erosion and their solutions?

Gully is mostly caused by man-made actions. These some of anti-environmental practices that aid in aggravating gullies are wrong/abrupt termination of drains constructed in our roads, situating buildings on drainage channels and waterways, improper designs, construction or maintenance of drainage channels, poor vegetative covers, improper waste disposal, water harvesting, sand mining and so on.
The State Government and NEWMAP have embarked on sensitization programs to educate our people on the causes of erosion and affect the needed behavioral-change in our people. However, everyone needs to know that the activities mentioned above helps to accelerate the formation of the gullies, causes flooding, and these needs to stop immediately.

Basically, what are the roles stakeholders like traditional rulers, town unions, traders, ship-owners, youths and NGOs, etc should play in tackling erosions?

There is an urgent need for a complete change in behavior of our people. These stakeholders can help to effect these changes through community sensitization and self-help groups. For example, indiscriminate dumping of refuse and solid waste disposal in drainage channels and along the road needs to stop; rain water can be harvested in homes and put to good use such as for domestic water needs and irrigation. Rainwater harvesting reduces rainwater run-offs from our homes which in turn reduces the build-up of water that eroded the soil and causes flooding; to stop erecting structures on drainage channels, natural flood and vegetation buffer-zones like forest reserves. We should avoid bush burning and adopt farming methods that reduce land degradation; and to form community-focused management strategies that include a master plan for land-use needs to be developed by every community.

Also, these stakeholders should actively engage their communities to take ownership of their environment. Government cannot do everything, especially in this current financial crisis in Nigeria and around the world. These are some of the roles required from community stakeholders as appropriate measures to checkmate, manage and prevent new gullies and flooding in Anambra State. We must support this administration’s effort towards making Anambra State a Green State. Anambra, we must go green.


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