By Adebayo Thomas
Stakeholders have called for the sustainability of the objectives of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), perhaps to ensure that the Project becomes an Agency to ensure the continuity of its positive implementation impacts.
These echoes trailed the ongoing project implementation data validation mission to project states nationwide.
The effort to mitigate adverse effects of soil and land degradation in targeted watershed for environmental sustainability in the country, envisioned and created the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), the NEWMAP project initially commenced with seven states of Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu and Imo and currently partners with 22 states.
NEWMAP at inception was welcomed with cautious enthusiasm, although mixed with renewed optimism, because of the Federal Government collaboration with the World Bank- the Projects donor partner. The wariness of many stakeholders was however stubbled when just few years of effectiveness the project had become a game changer. Between 2013 and now NEWMAP has been able to address over 70 active gully erosion sites across the country, and as at December 2019, “reclaimed 1,722.41 hectares of degraded lands, with reduction in loss of lives and infrastructure,” a phenomenon that earned the project many Awards on sustainable land management at local and international levels, stated Salisu Dahiru, NEWMAP National Coordinator.
Two weeks ago, (Monday March, 2nd 2020) the environment minister could not hide his admiration as he lauded the achievements of the Project, he considered as flagship of his ministry, saying “the evidence based achievements of Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) calls for greater consideration of transmuting the project into an Agency.”
Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, believes turning the project into an agency at both federal and state levels will ensure sustainability, especially in watershed management.”
So far, the NEWMAP validation Team has visited Edo, Delta, Anambra, Enugu, and Ebonyi States. And as the mission progresses will visit all other NEWMAP project states. The acknowledgements of project intervention has been very tremendous
In Enugu, popular Nollywood actress, Patience Ozokwor (aka Mama G) said “the timely intervention of Nigeria Erosion and Watershed management Project (NEWMAP) to land degradation in some of the erosion prone areas of the south Eastern Nigeria saved many lives and restored hopes in many household.”
Describing the outcome of the implementation activities of NEWMAP “as marvelous,” Oziokwor who is an indigene of Amuzam lauded NEWMAP’s gully erosion remediation works in Amuzam, Enugu Ngwo community in Enugu State.
The Nollywood Actress said “NEWMAP is a success story because the project intervention in Amuzam ended the deplorable situation experienced over time in her community. According to her “NEWMAP intervention was “a God – sent answer to prayers in the Community,” especially her brother-in-law whose house was at the verge of collapse before project implementation in the area.
At Queen Ede site in Edo State, the Chairman of the Site Committee, Barrister Sunday Imolode and Rev. Father Richard Ofere of the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church expressed deep gratitude to NEWMAP for doing what seemed impossible in their lifetime.
Barrister Imolode spoke on the diligent manner the entire civil works and livelihood enhancement activities were carried out at the site and stressed that much impact had been made in their lives.
Rev. Father Ofere, who has become the face of NEWMAP in Edo State, spoke glowingly of the relief, as well as numerous social and economic benefits of the Queen Ede gully remediation to the people of the community.
In Delta, Owanta gully erosion control project in Ika North East Local Government Area, the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) expressed satisfaction over the pace of work on the 2,800m project.
Stakeholders and projects affected persons including the Chairman, NEWMAP Owanta Community Association, Elder Samson Egwu and Mrs. Ngozi Eluma, expressed happiness over the level of works done. They commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for keying into the World Bank assisted project to solve erosion problems, which is not only addressing the land degradation but has provided alternative means of livelihoods to the people of Owanta community
The physically-challenged persons are also well considered in project implementation. In Ebonyi state, Nguzu-Edda community in Afikpo South Local Government Area leader of the group, Mr. Emmanuel Kalu said “NEWMAP should be commended for helping the physically challenged, the project has greatly helped in reducing poverty in our lives” he stated.
The NEWMAP Project was initially anchored on IDA $500 million USD by the World Bank, with two additional grants of 3.96 million dollars from the Global Environmental Facility and 4.63 million dollars from the Special Climate Change Fund as an advance to cover phase one of the project. The Federal Government also contributed 150 million dollars equivalent, as part of its counterpart contribution for staff salaries, trainings, and office accommodation among others, while the affected states also contributed a matching grant of about 10 to 12 per cent of the total cost of the civil works.
According to Ruth Mshelia and Mukhtar Tanko, Social Livelihood and Monitoring and Evaluation Specialists respectively, on ground at the ongoing data validation exercise, the landmark achievements of the NEWMAP project was able to be achieved through the unrelenting Team spirit of the entire workforce, “going by the success rate of the project and the efforts of both Federal Government and other critical stakeholders the Executive Directors of the World Bank Group (WBG) on 27th June, 2018 approved an Additional Financing (AF) of $400 million ($300 from IDA 18 and $100 million (equiv.) from IDA 18 Scale-up Facility) as Additional Financing to the NEWMAP project. The AF will continue to support the Government in building its resilience to climate change and contribute to its NDC’s targets. Part of the AF will also be used to develop opportunities for future watershed and landscape management support in arid and semi-arid northern Nigeria.”
The ongoing Data Validation Mission intends to validate Community Interests Groups (CIGs), Safeguards Studies and RAP data recorded by the Project, and then document data that is more accurate, consistent and reliable. The Mission is to further entrench standard mode of engagement in terms of data reporting between Social Safeguards/ livelihood and M&E officers, Focal and Umbrella NGOs, before transmitting data to the FPMU. Most importantly, the way forward for implementing critical agreed actions will be discussed as well as discuss modalities for the upcoming RAP Completion Audit.
Specific Objectives: Sighting of recorded evidences of data on CIGs: i. No of CIGs formed ii. No of males and Females beneficiaries’ iii. Total Amount approved iv. Total Amount disbursed v. Balance Left vi. No of Households that have benefited from L/H enhancement activities (segregated into Female and male).
· Sighting evidence of S/guards studies, safety compliance tools, reports of incidents on any site
· Evidence of RAP data recorded; i. No of RAPs implemented ii. No of PAPs compensated iii. No of PAPs outstanding iv. Total amount paid and v. Total amount outstanding
· Evidence of GRM; Evidence of log book and status of cases (redressed and ongoing cases).
· Discuss standard mode of engagement in terms of data reporting between Social Safeguards/ livelihood and M&E officers, Focal and Umbrella NGOs, before transmitting data to the FPMU.
· Discussion with community members
· Site visit to see some livelihood enhancement activities/verification of other processes.
· Site visit to see safeguards measures put in place.
· Discuss the way forward for implementing critical agreed actions, as well as modalities for the upcoming RAP Completion Audit.
Dr. Adebayo Thomas is a Communication Specialist