The Nigeria Erosion and Water shed management Project will be launched in Sokoto the city of the Caliphate. This will thus make the Project effective in the Northern Part of the Country.

The Wednesday April 5, event will be performed by no other personality than the Governor of Sokoto State, Alh. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.

The creation of Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) was in line with the country strategic response to the challenges and worsening land degradation and environmental insecurity in Nigeria.

In the last four years, NEWMAP’s success in transforming degraded landscape battered with massive gully erosion into a healthy landscape has been described as a remarkable achievement by many. This could not have been possible but for the commitment and ownership exhibited at all Levels of government and the communities within the project areas as well. Very important too, is the overall project structure that meticulously saw to project implementation activities towards reducing vulnerability to soil erosion in targeted sub-watersheds.

The launch of NEWMAP 4 years ago drew scepticism from many quarters, but today it’s a different ball game, as the project activities have spread into 19 states considering that it started with 7 initial states of Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu and Imo. NEWMAP gradually reduced the loss of agricultural lands; reduced the loss of infrastructure; and, prevented further loss of lives, houses while it progressively restored vegetative cover as well as improved environmental conditions with linkage roads to hitherto separated communities due to gully erosion. The importance of scaling up and replicating the successes is even now stronger!

All thanks to the revolutionary approach and progress recorded by the initial seven states that later drew, in September 2015, additional 7 states; Delta, Gombe, Kogi, Kano, Plateau, Oyo and Sokoto to the project, having met the necessary selection criteria. Later, a third phase of states joined the project (Akwa Ibom, Borno, Katisina, Nasarawa, and Niger, States) thus making a total number of 19 states.

Given the four years activity, the Project success results of implementation is very encouraging with progress at 75 percent completion of the initial 21 intervention sites across the first mover states Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu and Imo, and In order to bring relief to more Nigerians the project has commenced preliminary activities in the additional 12 States of Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Borno Delta, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, and Kogi. Others are Nasarawa, Oyo, Plateau and Sokoto, said Salisu Dahiru, the National Project Coordinator

Amachalla remediated gully area in Awka Anambra state capital, for example, is about 98 percent completion. Reeling out the statistics Amos Abu, World Bank Senior Environmental specialist and Task Team Leader of NEWMAP explained that gully was about 172.27 m long, 22m deep and 36.4m wide with an elevation between 122m to 153m above sea level.

Prior to NEWMAP intervention, interconnected roads between the communities were affected while eight houses were on the verge of being consumed by the gully.The area of reclaimed land today stands at 1Ha in Amachalla. 8 houses saved from being consumed by the gully erosion while 29 households benefited from the livelihood options in the area, with each household having between 5-6persons75personsempoweredunderalternative Livelihood options

The successes and progress achieved speaks for the Project. Queen Ede gully site, where President Buhari visited recently, is at Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of Benin City, Edo State The intervention site has estimated gully length of 960 m, maximum depth of about 25 m, average top and base width of about 56 m and 40 m, respectively.

The gully started as a result of abrupt termination of the outlet drain from the Benin-Agbor highway. Queen Ede site had consumed a couple of houses and destroyed two public schools.

NEWMAP intervention considered as “a Miracle” by many including former Governor Oshiomole of Edo State. Intervention solved the severe impacts of flood water along Benin-Agbor highway, Pogah, Edebor, Agbonlahor and Igunbor streets across the road as well as runoff from Aroko estate and Ogbeson village. Hundreds of property saved, while interlink roads between the 8 communities restored.

NEWMAP also launched intervention in Auchi, a town located in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo North, Edo State, Nigeria. Its distance is about 130 km from Benin City, the capital of Edo State, and has an area of 946 km² and a population of about 197,609 (2006 census). The gully site is located in an urban area and has damaged several houses. The affected areas includes: Obe Streets, Union Bank road, Hospital roads, Inu Umoru road, Egbe Adokhai, Momoh streets, farm lands, residential buildings, schools, etc. At its deepest, the gully is about 20-25 m.

The project has been applauded by many state governors and community members, the requests by many other states continue to flood the Federal Ministry of Environment. It is hoped that as the project is launched in the North This week, it will receive the necessary support as it had received both from the communities and the authorizing environments departments.

By Ijeoma Nwachukwu