By Cynthia Igbokwe, Awka
People of Urum in Awka North local government area of Anambra state were in ecstasy on Monday following the commissioning of a world bank assisted projects in the area.
The projects, a five lock unlock-up, and a skill acquisition center was anchored by the Anambra state Community Social Development Agency, ANCSDA, in collaboration with Obioma Vulnerable Group, Urum, Anambra state.
The skills acquisition center commissioned will avail vulnerable individuals within the community the opportunity of being trained in many handwork skills including soap making, sewing, computer training, bead making, shoe production, among others which could provide beneficiaries with the real source of livelihood.
Speaking at the dedication program, the Operation Manager of Anambra State Community and Social Development Agency, ANCSDA, Mrs. Uche Nwaizugbo said the body utilized a Community-driven development approach to see to the success of the projects having engaged in the building of many projects in the community including toilets, corps members lodges, markets, and boreholes, among others.
While she specifically noted that the lock-up shops and the skills acquisition center were sponsored by World Bank, she pointed out that the target group for the projects were vulnerable in the society including the physically challenged, jobless as well as the people who if they are not assisted will be street beggars.
Mrs. Nwaizugbo said the agency was motivated to embark on the projects due to the level of interest the community exhibited in the project. According to her, ” they were so enthusiastic for support. They listed so many things they needed but the skill acquisition project and few others were high on their lists so we engaged through our community development appraisal.
While the operation manager maintained that the skill acquisition center and the five lock-up shops cost a combined sum of 8 million naira, she said Obioma Venerable Group in the community brought five percent of the fund as their contribution to the ownership.
“What we do is community-driven development projects so the group was supposed to lead the process because it is their own. So they have to participate in that ownership By paying 5%, then we brought the balance as an assistance to the group.”
Aside from the Obioma Venerable Group, She said the agency has also assisted the entire community complete six micro-projects and has assisted communities in 12 local government areas of the state with over two hundred and fifty projects in less than two years.
She urged the community leaders to ensure good sustenance of the projects stating that the body will not be happy if the project for the vulnerable is found in a bad condition. She said the community must maintain the projects and put them to good use.
Also speaking, Awka North Social Welfare Officer, Mrs. Juliana Okoyeocha urged indigenes of the Urum community, especially the jobless and vulnerable to leverage on what has been provided in the community adding that it is an intervention that will help curb unemployment in the area.
Secretary, Association of persons living with Disabilities, Chukwuma Ifeoma was full of joy at the project and the empowerment gesture aimed at the disabled group. She assured that the disabled will make good use of the facilities. She also reminded me that there is ability in disability and there is no human being God has created to beg.
Earlier in his brief remarks, Mr. Kenneth Ositadimma Madubuike extolled the world bank for the project. He said that the project will help the community in the future adding that the disabled were known for begging but in recent times have proved they can engage in various aspects of production and business ventures.
Chairman, Cooperative Empowerment of Nigerians with disabilities, Anambra state chapter, Hon. Emmanuel Obidimma Okafor said that he is filled with joy to have brought the project home to his community.
He reckoned that all the disabled in the Urum community will benefit from the skill acquisition project. He further said that the project will accommodate community members who are jobless and in need of skills to restart their lives.
Okafor who is also the Director, Obioma Venerable Group urged the state government to do more to help persons with disabilities in the state. He stated that the association of disabled in Anambra state has resolved never to embark on the street begging to earn a living but to engage in gainful ventures.
The state chairman, Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities (JONAPED) Ugochukwu Okeke commended the agency for being inclusive oriented. He said that the state government has not abandoned the disabled in the state in their scheme of things through their total inclusive project.
He described the world bank sponsored project as laudable and urged the community to ensure that the project serve the purpose it was meant to be.
He said that the essence of the association is to eradicate begging in the state. He said the disabled are known for begging but the association aims to eradicate that by making sure that their members are empowered.
He assured that JONAPED will ensure that their members are serious with learning in the center and monitor what is being done in the center to ensure they are being put to rightful use.
Meanwhile, the President General Urum Development Union, Chief Alloysious Chijioke Tabansi said the project will be highly beneficial to the vulnerable in the community. He said having skill acquisition centers provides the youths and the disabled to feel belonged, and part of the society.
Chief Tabansi who confirmed that the agency has executed three projects in the community said It is a very big opportunity for the disabled to open businesses of their own adding that it will not only be of help to them but also to their families and even to the extent of employing others.
Tabansi assured that the community has raised a committee to ensure the sustainability of the project in the community. He maintained that the committee will ensure that everything there is taken care of.