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Reps urge ministry to supervise erosion, land degradation projects



MEMBERS of the House Committee on Environment have urged the Federal Ministry of Environment to take the core responsibility of coordinating the Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), maintaining that environment remains the line ministry in the implementation of the project. 

  They argued that stakeholders have made tremendous counterpart contributions towards the success of the project. For instance, World Bank has already contributed $500million, with the Federal Government also contributing N500million to the project while benefiting states in the country have also made their contributions as follows; Anambra (N500m), Cross River (N200m), Ebonyi (N200m) and Imo (N100m).

   Speaking during an interactive session between the House Committee on Environment and high level officials of the Ministry, Committee Chairman Hon. Uche Ekwunife also called for synergy between stakeholders for the full and successful implementation of the Great Green Wall programme to ensure its set of objectives are fully realized for the benefit of the country and the West African sub-region. 

   NEWMAP is a creation of the Federal Government of Nigeria, with support from the International Development Association (IDA) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) to vigorously combat the menace of erosion and watershed challenges that are currently ravaging parts of the South-Eastern States of Nigeria. The mandate is for NEWMAP to win the war against erosion thereby helping the affected States achieve greater environmental and economic security.

   The devastating effects of erosion are evident on many lives. It has led to the destruction of basic infrastructures essential for economic development and poverty alleviation.  It is estimated that gully erosion contributes to environmental problems and damage put at over $100 million annually (mostly in South-Eastern Nigeria).

  It is therefore in response to these challenges of massive and rapidly expanding gully erosion and land degradation and to ameliorate the devastating impact on lives and livelihoods in parts of the country especially in the South-South and the South Eat socio-economic regions, that the Nigerian government made a request to the World Bank, through its Nigeria Office in 2010, calling for support for the country in the effort to check this menace.

   Meanwhile, in a statement by NEWMAP’s Communication Consultants, Aries Concept, NEWMAP’s National Coordinator, Mr. Chikelo Nwune, said that the significant development objectives of the project “is to reduce vulnerability to soil erosion in targeted sub-watersheds”, and that this innovative, multi-sectoral project had commenced financing State-led interventions to reverse land degradation, “initially focusing on gully erosion sites that threaten infrastructure and livelihoods in seven States: Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu and Imo and subsequently scale out to other states nationwide.”

   Nwune explained further that it would take an integrated watershed management approach to enhance the remediation of the erosion and gully sites that will be informed by lessons learned on the interlinked challenges of poverty, ecosystem services, climate change, disaster risk management, biodiversity, and institutional performance governance. 

    He added that the project would also take into consideration Investment in strategic combination of civil engineering, vegetative land management and other watershed protection measures, and community-led adaptive livelihood initiatives. The sustainability of these investments according to him will be reinforced by strengthening institutions and information services across the relevant sectors and States, including support to improve governance, regulatory compliance, environmental monitoring, impact evaluation, watershed and land use planning, and totally strengthen Nigeria’s capacity to promote and implement climate-resilient, low-carbon development.

   Senior Environmental Officer, Bank Group Nigeria office and Task Team Leader (TTL) NEWMAP, Dr. Amos Abu noted that the project was aimed at sustaining watershed activities that affect plants, animals and the human communities in the affected parts of the country in order to ensure environmental sustainability of these activities. 

     Abu further explained that NEWMAP’s strategic approach to southern intervention sites was in two phases.  Firstly, to “start with damage control” that will slow the expansion of a targeted set of existing aggressive gullies that are still physically possible to stabilize, thereby reducing the loss to property and infrastructure, and helping to cultivate community ownership”; and secondly, to leverage the gully intervention, to support integrated watershed management and move towards greater adoption of sustainable land and water management practices by local people in the sub-watershed where the gully is located.”

    Obviously, this strategic approach will underpin the efforts of strengthening relevant institutions and information services, including urban storm water drainage planning and management, planning for Imo-Anambra, Cross River and Benin-Owena basins, building a better knowledge base, and enhancing readiness for climate action thereby ensuring that the NEWMAP intervention will contribute to improved governance in the project areas through better contract management, transparency, open and reliable data as well as beneficiary verification.

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