By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The World Bank-assisted Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) have demanded that the Akwa Ibom State Government to pay its N500 million counterpart fund for the control of erosion in the state.
The NEWMAP National Project Coordinator, Alhaji Salisu Dahiru, made the request recently in Uyo, during the launch of project in the state,one of the critical gully erosion sites in the state capital.
Dahiru’s submission appears to be in line with major resolutions of the National Council on Environment (NCE) held from October 16 to 18, 2017 in Abeokuta, Ogun State that states interested in keying into NEWMAP should make the contribution. Similarly, states are to provide 12.90% of total cost of the project as well as make available base line data of erosion sites in their states.
Salisu explained that in Uyo so far, the state had paid only N50 million out of the N500 million counterparts fund for NEWMAP activities.
He added that payment of counterpart fund was necessary to boost the tempo of NEWMAP operations in the state.
He noted that NEWMAP came into being following the failure of several agencies of government to address erosion problems in the country.
The NEWMAP coordinator, said Akwa Ibom, was earlier listed among the second phase of NEWMAP intervention activities, was on the verge of surpassing the pioneer states in the project intervention.
He commended the state government for making efforts to map out erosion sites across the 31 local government areas of the state with aerial photographs.
The State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, who launched the project, promised to support it by fulfilling the conditions for its successful implementation.
The governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, urged communities benefitting from NEWMAP intervention to cooperate with the project team.
He said Akwa Ibom was in dire need of support from the World Bank because of its peculiar environmental challenges such as perennial flooding and gully erosion.
“I want to assure the World Bank that as a state that is faced with several environmental challenges, we will endeavour to meet the prerequisites to enable the state to benefit from financing.
“I have directed Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the state as represented in NEWMAP Steering and Technical Committees to give the project the necessary support,” Ekpo submitted.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Environment, Dr Iniobong Essien, said a total of
1,000 critical gully erosion sites had been documented in the state.
Essien stated that the execution of control measures in identified erosion sites across the 31 local government areas of the state would gulp N150 billion.
The commissioner said the State Steering and Technical Committees for NEWMAP were inaugurated in February this year.
Adding that, so far, NEWMAP had identified 10 critical gully erosion sites for immediate intervention in the state.
He disclosed that affected households would need resettlement to allow full implementation of the palliative measure and permanent intervention in line World Bank guidelines.