Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), a programme of the World Bank, has announced that the bank has proposed $500 million to address erosion challenges across various states in Nigeria, adding that the amount will be accessed by benefitting states through payment of counterpart funds.
Dr. Amos Abu, task Leader of NEWMAP stated this at an inspection of some erosion sites in Delta State, and acknowledged that the state government has paid its counterpart fund of N500 million to access its share of the money.
Inspecting erosion sites at Ukwu-Nzu, Obomkpa, Ubulu Uku and Boji-Boji Owa, all in the northern part of the state, Abu promised to support the state government in addressing the menace of soil erosion and other forms of environmental degradation in various parts of the state.
The team leader, who spoke alongside the acting National Project Coordinator of NEWMAP, Ruth Peter Mishellia, said 19 states would benefit from the the project, adding that emphasis was on Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Delta, Imo and Edo states at present.
According to the team, the visit is predicated on securing due diligence in the job to be done to ensure appropriate designs for the projects in line with international best practices, noting that the World Bank is only interested in projects with high financial responsibilities and so far, the erosion sites visited match their specifications and will be duly attended to.
They said apart from lifting people from the gullies of erosion, the project is hinged at liberating communities from the shackles of poverty by creating enabling environment through accessibility to more viable economic towns.
They said the project succeeded in some countries around the globe, including Brazil, India, Mexico, China, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Commissioner for Environment, John Nani, who was part of the inspection, disclosed that the N500 million counterpart fund released by the state government was to complement the $2 million approved and released by World Bank He decried the condition of the over 3,000 erosion sites and assured of the state government resolve to do all it can to solve the problem in some parts of the states. The state Coordinator of NEWMAP, Mr. Isaac Ufiofio, who commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for the release of the counterpart fund, said the problem of gully erosion in the state was enormous, expressing optimism that although NEWMAP cannot attend to all erosion sites at once, gradually many would be addressed.
He said the World Bank intervention was timely given the fact that the state was confronted with financial challenges, and appealed to the people to cooperate with contractors to ensure successful execution of the projects.