Izuchukwu Onwughara, the Abia Coordinator, Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), says that over 279 erosion sites in the state are currently receiving attention.
Onwughara who made the disclosure in Aba spoke against the backdrop of a litany of complaints by erosion-ravaged communities that the agency received reports of their plight but declined to act.
He explained that the process of initiating projects, which determined where priorities were placed, gave the wrong impression that NEWMAP was doing nothing regarding people’s complaints.
Onwughara said “Onwughara said that erosion sites at Ogudu Asaa, Igbere, Ebem Ohafia, Uduma Awoke, Elu Ohafia, and the one between Abiriba and Ohafia, were receiving attention under what he called the “Ohafia complex”.
According to him, the agency gets reports, verifies and then present them to the governor who chooses 10 sites needing urgent attention each year and then instructs the agency to act.“It is after the governor had made choices that the agency engages experts and work on the site begins.
The preparation of detailed designs that meet world standard and the transparent process of engaging contractors result in delays we would have loved to avoid.
So, when we are aware and prioritise, we do our work gradually. We are not a sudden intervention agency.
We do not run to site the moment any community cries. When communities don’t see us, it doesn’t mean we’re idle,’’ Onwughara said.
He also stated that the agency is receiving funding from the World Bank and not the Ecological Fund.
NEWMAP is a World Bank-assisted initiative, collaborating with the Nigerian Government to address gully erosion in the South-East and land degradation in the North.