More than 800 women have been trained on community needs assessment with a view to attract governments projects and programmes as part of measures to tackle social development challenges.
The women, drawn from different communities in Cross River State, southern Nigeria, were trained by Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre in collaboration with Oxfam Nigeria.
Mrs. Emem Okon, the Executive Director and founder of the not-for-profit agency at a meeting with some government officials, women groups and other stakeholders in Calabar, said that the training was to enable the participants identify and advocate for changes due to challenges affecting rural development.
According to Okon, the essence of the training, which spanned three years, was to equip the women with the knowledge and requisite skills to enable them promote community needs for inclusion in the state budgets and planning.
“We started the training in 2016 and we have trained a little over 800 women on community needs assessments so that they can know how to participate in the state government’s development process and sustain such engagement with a view to influencing inclusion in their budgetary planning,” She stated.
Okon further said “we expect them to use the skills imparted to highlight their social plights, and advocate strongly for positive changes in line with identified needs of their communities. They have also been trained on the best approaches to engage the government rather than via confrontations and or protest”.
Some women from Abi, Ikom, Bekwara and similar associations, took turns to explain the different challenges encountered at the communities due to the absence of necessary, basic social amenities.
One of the beneficiaries, Victoria Ukpong, said “we went on a field tour, which revealed so many things to us. Everywhere we visited showed evidence of abandoned projects initiated by different past governments and we discovered the contractors collected the entire fund without completing the jobs”.
Henry Ushie, the Program Director of Oxfam Nigeria, in a remark urged the women to continually engage government officials based on the needs assessment to foster development of their communities.
Ushie noted that Oxfam Nigeria, besides financing advocacy projects, campaigns against inequality and cautioned the women against docility in the face of neglect and biting socioeconomic realities, urging “we need you women to monitor the development of your communities and advise the authorities where necessary.”
Also speaking, Emmanuel Ogar, the Permanent Secretary in the State Planning Commission, remarked that the paucity of good leadership and docility of followership were the bane of bad governance and encouraged the women to help add value to their communities.
Patrick Anyade, a Director in the Cross River Internal Revenue Service, enjoined the women and other community leaders as tax payers to hold government accountable for poor public amenities and abandonment of projects
“You must constantly cry out to your local representatives at the local, state and national assemblies, even at the NDDC. Government may not readily know about poor state of schools, hospitals and other projects in your localities. It is now your duty and that of others to constantly draw public attention to these matters so you achieve the desired results,” he added.