NEWMAP, Kogi partner to tackle gully erosion
The decision of Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, to key into the partnership with the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), has rekindled hope of a successful implementation of the project in the state.
Indeed it was a paradigm shift from the syndrome of incumbent administrations abandoning projects initiated by their predecessors over what many have come to tag politics of hatred and bitterness.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which the Bello-led administration just keyed into, was signed with NEWMAP by the outgone Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administration, and aimed at tackling the menace of ravaging erosion in the state.
It was the determination to deal with the situation that prompted the visit by representatives of the World Bank and NEWMAP in April.
During the visit Bello pledged government’s commitment to the project, and matched action with words by immediately approving the disbursement of N100m, in partial fulfillment of the state government’s counterpart funding.
Across the state, several houses have been swallowed by erosion, hundreds of lives lost, while property worth billions of naira have also gone down the drain before the state government and the World Bank moved to put a stop to it with the NEWMAP’s partnership.
For starters, NEWMAP identified eight critical sites spread across the three senatorial districts for immediate intervention in its first phase, based on the severity of the situation.
One of the sites is Omigbo River channelisation, in Kabba-Bunu Local Council. This is a natural river flowing almost through the entire Kabba town, with a stretch of about five kilometres. It contributes immensely to the severe flooding the state suffered in 2012.
The second is the Ogane Aji erosion site in Dekina Local Council. The gully, which is 700m in length, has a width varying from 20m to 25m, and depth ranging from 7m to 10m. Now, it has developed fingers, which are now posing threat to surrounding buildings. As a result of heavy rainfall, it claimed about four lives in 2015.
The third site, which is the Etahi Erosion site in Okene Local Council, has a gully of 1.02m length, with width varying from 20m to 25m and depth of 17m to 20m. Having existed for over 25 years, situation at this gully erosion was worsened by uncontrolled/unchecked waterfalls from Okene Eba hills.
The fourth site is the Ankpa erosion site in Ankpa Local Council, and the others are the Adumu Road gully site in Olamaboro Local Council; Agassa erosion site in Okene Local Council, and the Ugwolawo erosion site in Ofu Local Council.
It was reliably gathered that the severity of the menace, as well as, other environmental challenges afflicting the state may have informed the resolve of the state government to employ integrated and sustainable solutions to addressing the problem.
Speaking at the official flag-off of the project, Task Team Leader (TTL) of NEWMAP, World Bank, Dr. Amos Abu, said intervention had already begun at the respective sites.
Abu, who said the major challenge in erosion control remains the approach, said the bank was bringing to bear international best practices, in partnership with the federal and some state governments in the country.
“NEWMAP is a very huge project. The World Bank is contributing $500m, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is also bringing $8m, while the federal and state governments are contributing $150m.”
He maintained that apart from the money, the bank was bent on delivering a permanent solution to the perennial problem, stressing that, “The project in the state will take a comprehensive watershed management approach, coupled with an investment focused on gully erosion prevention and rehabilitation, to support the state reduce its vulnerability to soil erosion and prevent land degradation.
“We also try to see that in our approach, we ensure that the people constitute the cornerstone because the development objective of NEWMAP is to reduce vulnerability to soil erosion,” Abu stated.
He said as part of the four components of the project, and because the World Bank is involved, the best of engineering solutions would be deployed. In other words, “hard engineering solution would be put in place where it is required, and flexible solutions where they are required.”
The TTL, who said the state has the latitude to select as many as possible priority sites for NEWMAP to intervene, explained that, “Our partnership with the state government is not only for these eight sites. Once the state comes up with more priority sites, we will come in. The intervention is very different. As World Bank, we have done it in many countries including Brazil, India, and China. That of China is of particular interest and only recently, we came back from a mission to China and India.
Abu continued: “NEWMAP is not a make believe project. The situation is that bad, and we understand when sometimes people are sceptical because of past efforts that did not give desired results. However, the case of NEWMAP is different. In Cross River and Enugu states the situation is different from what they were before and after the intervention of NEWMAP.”
He commended the state government for prioritising the idea of tackling environmental degradation.
National Project Coordinator, NEWMAP, Salisu Dahiru, in his remarks, commended the government for the support the agency has so far received from the state, saying it has been instrumental to NEWMAP’s success.
He urged traditional rulers to take full ownership of the projects since they were primary beneficiaries of the initiative.
The governor in his remarks, hailed the World Bank and the Federal Government for collaborating with states to control the menace of gully erosion across the federation.
The project, which started in 2013 with seven southeastern states, has incorporated Kogi in the second phase involving seven new states that have been penciled down to benefit from the World Bank’s eight-year Strategic Investment Loan (SIL) of $508.59 million to ameliorate the effects of environmental degradation.
Bello pointed out that the partnership, which will see to the implementation of the NEWMAP in vulnerable communities, has lifted a great burden off his administration, adding that environmental degradation is a disaster that can easily impoverish agrarian communities.
NEWMAP’s Project Coordinator in the state, Ladi Ahmed Jatto, who spoke at the occasion, said the state has been battered by the twin problems of erosion and land degradation, resulting from heavy rainfall, hilly topography and loose soil quality, especially in the eastern part of the state.
She commended the governor for the additional counterpart fund so approved, explaining that the project’s target was to bring succour to affected communities.