The World Bank has doled out 500 million dollars (N157billion) to tackle flooding and erosion challenges in Nigeria.The venture is aimed at reducing or eliminating flooding and recovering areas under the scourge of gully erosion in the country.
In many states around Nigeria, gullies and floodings have been the bane of development in the areas. Many buildings both residential and official have been destroyed by gully erosion in many parts of the country.
Delta, Edo, Anambra and many other states have lost buildings to gully erosion. Some have even lost lives of innocent children who were carried away due to the heavy current of the erosion. Many have also been rendered homeless in these states due to the impact of flooding and the attendant gullies. These are erosion sites which have built up over the years folowing the negligent attitude of governments towards the welfare of their people.
In Auchi, the polytechnic town of Edo State, a mighty gully has eaten deep into the town, almost breaking the Etsako town into two. In Delta, rural communities in the Northern fringe of the state are pining away following the impact of erosion which is creating gullies in the communities and consuming buildings on their paths.
But following the desire to assist developing countries to combat flooding and erosion, the World Bank has released the total sum of 500m dollars to assist Nigerian government to fight the menace and save the life of the poor rural dwellers from caving into the erosion prone areas in the affected states.
A representative of the World Bank, Dr. Amos Abu, in Asaba, told communities in Delta state that the World Bank is prepared to confront flooding and recapture lands already overtaken by gullies in the state.
Dr. Abu, who toured parts of the state, accompanied by Delta State Coordinator of the Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), Isaac Ufiofio, felt the pains of the people living in the communities which are flood prone and already experiencing the impact of gully erosions.
Dr. Abu was optimistic that the World Bank was ready to combat the gullies and fight against erosion, the action of which he said will erase the recurrence of flooding in the areas already mapped for intervention and eventual recapture.
He said the 500 million dollars is not a promise but is already made available by the World Bank for the project in Nigeria. He said the World Bank has the resources and manpower to handle the project and ensure completion according to schedule. He said World Bank projects are done with international best practices, eliminating the failures that at times attend projects executed by governments in Nigeria.
The World Bank representative listed 19 states that have keyed into the project. Among the states are Edo, Cross River, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Delta, Imo, Kogi, Plateau, Gombe, Kano, Sokoto, Oyo and other five states that make up the 19 states that have keyed into the project with the objective of fighting erosion and flooding in the nation.
Dr. Abu said the World bank is bringing the best technology to bare in the execution of the project in the states, noting that the project will be executed as planned without hitches of any kind. According to him, the communities the team visited presented varied challenges of flooding to him, but he assured them of the bank’s intervention to bring succour to them.
But one identified challenge why some states have not keyed into the project is the inability of the states to pay their counterpart funding for the project. It was gathered that the World Bank funding is for the execution of the project while the counterpart funding from the state governments is for other matters, like payment of compensation, other running costs, maintenance of staff and others.
For instance, Delta state has paid its counterpart funding of N500million as its contribution for the project. Having paid its counterpart funding, the World Bank has released a total of 2million dollar for the state which it expects the operational body, NEWMAP, to employ to execute the project within a specified time schedule and show concrete evidence and then apply for more.
In Delta, five major sites were visited as areas badly affected by gully erosion. Among these communities are Ukwu-Nzu and Obomkpa in Aniocha North; Ubulu Uku in Aniocha South; Owa Nta in Ika North East and Ijerhe in Ethiope West council area of the state. In all these communties, the World Bank officials and the Delta team were received with jubilation from the rural dwellers.
The Delta state coordinator of the project, Isaac Ufiofio, explained that Delta state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, is interested in the welfare of Deltans, hence the speedy release of the counterpart fund for the commencement of the project.
He told the World Bank officials that the Delta coordinating office has identified all the flood prone and erosion sites in the state, and has prioritsed communities for the project. He said knowing that Delta is a new state in the project, its officials visited Edo and Anambra, states where the project has taken root to learn the nitty gritty of the project so as to make maximum success.
The state Commissioner for Environment, John Nani, said the mission of NEWMAP is essentially to correct erosion problems in the affected communities in Nigeria as well as reducing the vulnerability of erosion in the country, thereby bringing succour to the affected communities.
He told the team that Delta state government placed premium on combating issues of erosion and flooding in the flood prone communities, adding that the action will go a long way in reducing undue conflict in social relations and community lives.