The stock of resources being limited along with the ever-increasing human population and selfish and destructive human interventions, we human beings slowly and gradually are digging a pit for our own downfall. Lives and the means of lives depend on the integrity of land resources. But degradation and exploitation of land today is nothing less than a menace, leading to frequent disasters. Cognizant of the situation, the 120-member organisation, the Non-Aligned Movement has invested several efforts and has called for more from the Member States to remain committed to dealing with the situation.
At a time when the human population is increasing at a fast pace, Nigeria’s landmass is experiencing severe degradation. Affected by massive and expanding gully erosion, an advanced form of land degradation that once started, expands rapidly and is difficult to control unless steps are taken to stabilise it, the southern Nigeria has been calling for a respite. The causes of this advanced form of land degradation differ from site to site but are largely due to human intervention, including, poor solid waste management, improper road design and construction, destructive and unsustainable land-use practices like deforestation, overgrazing, uncontrolled mining etc.
In an attempt to reduce vulnerability to soil erosion in targeted sub-watershed regions, World Bank assisted Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) comes as a major relief. An 8-year multi-sectoral and multi-scale program, NEWMAP is a flagship project of the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Environment. The project majorly focuses on seven tier 1 south-eastern states as a response to the challenges of gully erosion and the emerging land degradation in Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu and Imo, threatening infrastructure and livelihoods. With innovative, integrated approaches along with community participation, NEWMAP has made significant and remarkable progress in dealing with gully erosion and land degradation in Nigeria.
With the introduction of a holistic watershed management approach in an address to interlinked challenges of poverty alleviation, climate change, better disaster risk management and lot more, the NEWMAP is performing very well in delivering results. A shift from the past approach to the use of state-of-the-art designs of engineering at targeted gully sites, the introduction of proper and well- terminated drainage systems at targeted sites along with bio-remediation use of vegetation measures have yielded good responses in addressing the challenges.
Working on a large scale, the project requires additional financing to expand successful gully restoration and watershed management activities. Additional 12 tier 2 states have been included in the project that includes Akwa Ibom, Delta, Kogi, Sokoto, Plateau, Gombe, Kano, Borno, Katsina, Nassarawa, Niger and Ondo states. The states are advancing their investment preparations. With its measurable progress in the region, the project will be expanded by one year and will last till June 30, 2021, instead of June 30, 2020. Given the positive impacts of the project on the environment and social development, it is in line with the goal and priority of the state to lifting 100 million Nigerians from poverty in the coming years. 21 gully sites have been treated with 100 per cent of planned measures across the first seven pilot states.
Till June 2019, 26 sites have been reduced in severity and 1,602 hectares of land have been recovered. With improved access to markets, schools and hospitals due to gully rehabilitation and road construction, the project has also been felicitated a number of honours. Apart from Overall Best Project in the entire World Bank Portfolio, Best Project in Results and Innovation, and Best Project in Financial Management during FY19 World Bank Nigeria Portfolio Awards, the project has been accorded 2 Sustainable Development Awards at the Work Bank 2019 Market Place for Projects in the entire Africa Portfolio. The staff and management of the NEWMAP have also been commended by the World Bank in making the project a success story in the country.
While the Non-Aligned Movement always backs concerted efforts from the governments, public and private institutes, there’s always a lot that can be done in order to achieve targets. It is quite important that citizens be made aware of the problem and a major focus be paid on their contribution as well. In line with this effort, NEWMAP involves the participation of many Federal and State Ministries, Departments and Agencies along with local governments, communities and civil societies that endeavour to effective implementation of inter-ministerial and inter-state coordination and collaboration to ensure sustainable environmental management and protection and imply with the growth and resilience goals of Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020.