By George Odok
The Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) has handed over six completed erosion sites to the Cross River Government on behalf of the benefiting communities.
Dr Inyang Asibong, the Commissioner for International Development in Cross River, handed over the sites to Mr Timothy Akwaji, Head of Civil Service in the state on Wednesday in Calabar.
Asibong, also the Acting Project Coordinator of NEWMAP in the state, said NEWMAP was initiated to reduce vulnerability to soil erosion in targeted sub-catchment.
The completed sites that were handed over to the state government are Nyagasang, Ikot Anwatim, Ikot Ekpo, Atakpa, Lemna and Federal Agriculture.
The commissioner said that before NEWMAP intervention, the erosion had caused havoc and damage to the affected communities.
She said Cross River Government and NEWMAP sought to achieve sustainable land management by promoting innovative erosion techniques in view of the devastating effects of the erosion sites.
“The project was not just launched into the sites, we carried out several stakeholders’ engagement with different groups comprising men, women and youths in a bid to make them part of the project implementation.
“The project team identified project affected persons: these are persons affected in the course of carrying out civil intervention at the gully sites.
“Compensation was paid then following survey of their property to enable them secure alternative accommodation.
“The project provided succour to the community members whose sources of livelihood were also affected by training them on alternative sources of livelihood skills,” she said.
Asibong said that grants were also provided for members of the affected communities to start some businesses such as poultry, fish farming, farming, tailoring and shoe making.
“Having successfully completed work on the six sites, it is imperative for NEWMAP to handover the sites to the relevant stakeholders/end users for maintenance and sustainability,” she said.
Speaking, the State Head of Civil Service, Akwaji, thanked the World Bank for providing the funds to the state government for the intervention.
He said that the release of the counterpart fund was also an indication of government’s commitment towards ameliorating the plight of the people.
Awaji urged the benefiting community members to make good use of the projects by avoiding dumping of refuse along the drainage system and unnecessary excavation of soil.
Dr Francis Obo, who responded on behalf of the benefitting communities, thanked NEWMAP and the Cross River Government for the successful completion of the projects.(NAN)
Edited by Chidi Opara/Ismail Abdulaziz