EU charges Niger Delta states on social cohesion, community development
The European Union (EU) has urged Niger Delta states to work with civil society organisations to ensure that communities benefit fully from EU-supported initiatives in the region.
It also called for urgent release of their counterpart funds for the EU-Niger Delta Support Programme, Component 4 (NDSP 4) focusing on micro projects.
At the Final National Project Steering Committee Meeting of NDSP4, which just ended in Asaba, Delta State, EU representative, Ms. Montse Pantaleoni, encouraged them to give special attention to vulnerable groups, including women and youths.
Key stakeholders, comprising all benefitting states, council authorities and civil society organisations across the nine states covered by the project, participated in the meeting.
Some 833 communities across nine states are benefitting from the micro-projects implemented with support from the EU. The programme commenced in January 2014 with an overall objective to mitigate the conflict in the region by addressing the main causes of the unrest and violence, which include governance issues, youth unemployment and poor delivery of basic services.
Since its commencement, the programme has contributed significantly to achieving the expected results, including:
*Strengthening community governance and development by ensuring infrastructure for community meetings, village and saving associations and a place to meet and discuss with local authorities’ common needs and support. More than 120 community centres have been constructed in the region.
*Increased equitable access to basic services with completion of 719 micro projects, which include water supply infrastructure, health centres, school blocks, cassava mills, palm oil mills, open markets, lock-up markets and mixed markets and coverage of communities.
*Micro projects have increased income generating activities and livelihoods in the communities of intervention, focusing on the most vulnerable youth and women. Cassava and palm oil mills have been constructed for their use, and farmers trained, increasing production and access to markets.
*Market stands have allowed a good number of farmers to market their products, ensuring daily access to markets and increased income, allowing them to expand their business with a special focus on rural communities.
The programme comprises over 200 agro processing mills (palm oil and cassava) and market stalls (lock-up and open).
Beneficiary communities have been engaged on effective strategies for the utilisation and sustainability of the completed agro processing mills.
The EU had expended €45 million (about N18 billion) on NDSP4.