How Kogi govt, NEWMAP partnership is bringing hope to erosion devastated communities

CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN writes that the Kogi State government and  Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) are collaborating to restore hope to communities prone to gully erosion.

 In the wake of the flood disaster of 2012, which devastated a lot of communities in Kogi State, coupled with the State’s topography and the nature of the (loose) soil in the Eastern part of the State, which makes it susceptible to various forms of erosion, the State government requested collaboration with Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP)

By fulfilling the criteria for states Phase-in (participation), the State came on board in 2015, while the project was formally launched by the State Governor, Yahaya Adoza` Bello on May 5, 2017. The then Task Team Leader, Amos Abu represented the World Bank Country Director at the event. 

Abu statements was very futuristic: “NEWMAP in Kogi state will address the menace of Gully erosion as best as possible and I can see the people of the confluence state smiling soon.”

Thereafter, the take-off of the Project commenced with intervention running across 8 Priority Sites in addition to 3 Emergency Sites in the 1st phase of intervention.
Today its not only the states citizens that are the major beneficiaries of NEWMAP Intervention in Kogi state, by its location almost every Nigerian that travails across the state are major beneficiaries of NEWMAP intervention in Kogi.

Speaking on the success story in Kogi , National Coordinator NEWMAP Salisu Dahiru said the “purposeful Project implementation in the state shows the commitment of the state government and the will of the people.” 

Salisu also believed that the reliable efforts of the State Coordinator and the support of the Governor Yahaya Bello contributed to the successes recorded so far in the state. 

According to Salisu, “one unique thing counts well for the state because its one of the few NEWMAP project state headed by a Lady coordinator, they are always passionate for successes, Ladi is a workaholic and she is well respected by others because of her ingenuity.”

Currently, NEWMAP is working on the following priority and emergency sites in Adum road  in Olamaboro, Ozuri in Adavi  LGA, Ogane-aji  in Dekina LGA, Omigbo  in Kabba Bunu LGA, Ugwolawo in Ofu LGA, Agassa in Okene LGA, Etahi in Okene LGA and Ankpa in Ankpa LGA.

The Emergency sites are Idozumi site because it links two communities which were previously cut off from each other; Idah site because lives and infrastructure have been devastated; Afor Gam- Gam, site because the village has a big market that attracts commerce from far and wide; Greater Lokoja water works site. The site has the water works project which is a multi-million-naira project and the only supplier of portable water to Lokoja town; Federal university Lokoja.

Agassa gully site is in Okene LGA of Kogi State. It is located Latitude 07 32’ 32.7”N and Longitude 06 13’ 27.7”E; It is a valley between Okene-eba hill and the surrounding hills.The gully is 1,341m in length and has width ranging from 15 to 20m,and depth of 4m.

The gully came about as a result of  uncontrolled waterfall from the Okene-eba and surrounding hills and developed fingers at Ubazi- Ewenyi and Urividaahache, which terminates at the community burial ground. The gully was a threat to the community, and LGA primary school was under serious threat. The vegetation of the area of Guinea Savanna and majority of the population are Ebira with few non-indigenes. 

The geology of the area is of basement complex and consists of granites, granite gneiss and biotite. The people of the area are mostly farmers, Artisans, and civil servants. The crops grown in the area are yam, maize, guinea corn, benniseed and cotton. 

Work on this site has reached 90% completion.
The project in Agassa community is very important not only to the economic lives of the people but also to their very existence. In 2018, a young lady lost her life when she drowned in a flood after a heavy rainfall. 
The community which are predominantly farmers and weaves find it very difficult to access their farms and weaving sites, because the gullies have almost cut off the accessible road. Farm products and local weaved cloths cannot get to the market thereby impacting negativity on the incomes of the people.

When it rains, the flooding is very severe, Homes are flooded, and lives are at risk. So, when the project is completed, the livelihood of the people of Agassa will be enhanced and their lives will also be safe.
The Adumu road gully site is located at Ogugu center in Olamaboro LGA of  Kogi State. It is within latitude 07 09’ 15.3”N and  Longitude 07 28’ 42.1”E. the gully is 465m in length and has width ranging from 10 to 15m with a depth of 3m. the gully has existed for over fifteen years and came about as a result of uncontrolled water falls from the surrounding hills and the poor drainage along Adumu road. 

The Adumu road linking many communities in the area has been cut off totally and residential buildings and the LGEA primary school was under serious threat; the community claimed that three lives were lost to 2014 flooding of the gully. The geology of the area is made up of sedimentary terrain and contains laterite, clay, fine grain sandstone and coarse grain sand stones. 
The vegetation is mainly of guinea savanna. The inhabitants of the area are predominantly Igalas with few non – indigenes. The main occupation is farming, trading and civil service. Crops grown in the area are yam, cassava, oil palm, cashew, and maize.

Work on the site has reached 85% completion.
Before Kogi NEWMAP began its work on the Gully site Adum road Ogugu, the only Access Road linking some of the surrounding villages with Ogugu centre was cut off. Houses and the LGEA primary school were threatened. It was so bad, that on market days It is a herculean task for villagers who are predominantly farmers to bring their products to the only major market in the area which is in Ogugu town. They must stay home for fear of their lives and watch their produce go bad.

Part of the NEWMAP implementation in Kogi is the Afforestation activities is aimed at reducing deforestation and surface water run-off, increasing the soil quality and organic carbon levels into the soil, different species of trees have been planted in Kogi
NEWMAP have also provided and installed a  3 x 10kW solar off-grid system for a remote or isolated community – Kogi State. This project in Okugo Community of Kogi State falls under this; access to power and energy in rural areas that are unlikely to be reached by the grid in the foreseeable future. 

Ninety-five (95) households have been electrified by this solar plant and selected commercial centers were wired up to boost economic activities in the community. This will boost micro and small businesses such as tailoring, barber shops, etc, aside over 30 youth members of the community who were provided with temporary jobs; ranging from technicians, welders, mason, and carpentry jobs were created during installation. Three (3) electricians from the community were adequately trained and can operate the solar plant, which ensures the steady and smooth operation of the solar power system.

Kogi State Government and Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) have completed the multi billion naira contract for the Stabilization, Reclamation, and Channelling of Ozuri Gully Erosion Site in Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State. The Works in Ozuri is aimed at proffering lasting solutions to concerns of environmental degradation in the Community.

Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Hon. Omofaiye, who was visibly impressed at the work done appreciated the state government for keying into NEWMAP; “Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello has shown leadership and character by the turnaround in OZURI, he has transformed the area for the benefit and upliftment of the lives and livelihoods of the people.
The Project Coordinator of Kogi NEWMAP, Barr. Ladi Ahmed Jatto, reiterated that at the Governor Bello has shown so much concern towards solving

environmental issues in the State, and this he has done despite the dwindling allocation to the State. She was full of praise for the Governor for the release of substantial Counterpart Funding, which ensured the seamless payment of Compensation to Project Affected Persons (PAPs), to pave the way for the commencement of Civil Works by the Contractors. Appreciable work done in Ozuri as of September 30th, 2021, is at -100%

Barr. Ladi Ahmed Jatto, commended the Kogi State Governor, Alh. Yahaya Bello on what she termed a “fantastic infrastructural development revolution, changing the Kogi narrative.”

Ladi pointed to the turnaround achieved in the on-going projects in Okene Eba/Ahache road. According to her, timely completion of the job, is of essence.

She said “I want to sincerely appreciate the efforts of Gov. Bello in his determination to bring succour to Communities ravaged by erosion and other forms of land degradation in the State”, she said.

She equally appealed to members of the Community to continue to ensure a conducive working environment for the Contractor, as the opposite would only frustrate the progress of the work.

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