The Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project, NEWMAP is working assiduously to control erosion with the mass plantation of assorted trees, known as woodlot plantation, in 7 local government areas of Gombe State.
It has started the woodlot project in almost all the local governments that have been approved for this, in which plantation in each local government areas is covering about 20 hectares of land.
Second largest state with erosion
According NEWMAP, Gombe State is the second largest state with more erosion sites in Nigeria, because it accounts for over 235 active gully erosion sites.
Out of that number, 45 were proposed and sent to the World Bank for intervention, but ‘only the five most critical ones were approved’ out of which four are located within the Gombe metropolis.
It also records that ‘desert encroachment is everywhere in the state, but that local government areas in the north of the state, located along the border with Yobe State, Nafada, Funakaye, Dukku, Gombe, and Kwami are mostly affected and have most of the activities of NWEMAP concentrated.
“Common human activities that affect the environment negatively are indiscriminate felling of trees, building on flood plates, blocking of water ways with the dumping of refuse which obstruct the channels from having free water flow, thereby leading to floods and subsequently gullies,’’ the Project Coordinator of NEWMAP in Gombe State, Mr. Mohammed Garba said.
He says because the project wants to start preventing erosion and desert encroachment before they get worst, it is intervening in Yamaltu Deba, Billiri, Kaltungo and Shongom, which are less effect by the environmental challenges.
Mr Garba called on the Gombe State Government to install flood early warning systems on major rivers, to give early information on the weather.
“This can give early information on what should be expected in days, weeks and months to come. That way, it will reduce the calamity of losing people and property, when it does occur,” he stressed.
NEWMAP is carrying out surveys and designs to determine the information needed and the quality of interventions to be provided in the affected areas.
“It has been doing a lot of technical survey works. It has finished the survey and designs of two sites for Gombe State University, FCE Staff School and waiting for the approval from the World Bank for the award of contract for works to begin. The survey and designs will provide information in the extent of damage done and the intervention to be provided on the particular site, in terms of money and relocation of people living along the gully corridors.
With the designs now at hand, when approved, NEWMAP will go to the next level of resettling of the people, once that is done, NEWMAP will move in with the intervention.
After that, NEWMAP will move in with other components, such as Social and Livelihood component, because the people will not just be removed people from their places of aboard without giving them alternative means of survival,” Mr Garba explained.
Acquisition of free lands
According to him, another challenge before NEWMAP is the acquisition of free lands from the local government councils to plant trees, but that the government is working with the seven local governments mostly affected by erosion and desertification, to tackle it.
NEWMAP is collaborating with the Gombe State Government and relevant agencies to control erosion. It calls for more synergy with development partners, so that whenever a project is being flagged-off, there will be environmental assessment that specialists will know from inception the specific intervention to provide.
The Project Coordinator of NEWMAP says he sees Gombe State repositioned and turned green, with the absence of any gullies in the next five to 10 years.