NEWMAP: tackling erosion and improving lives using the watershed concept
By: Adebayo Thomas
One of the most crucial aspects of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Project (NEWMAP) is the watershed component. This was conceived not only to mitigate the adverse effect on soil but with an integrated approach to provide a better living condition to the people that are affected by gully erosion and to as well enhance their livelihood. Some of the principles include; supports for community’s soil and water conservation; livelihood enhancement activities such as re-grassing and afforestation; income generation, agricultural skill acquisition of the affected community; continuous engagement and participation of the affected communities; sensitization and awareness creation towards environmental sustainability.
Wikipedia described Watershed management as the study of the relevant characteristics of a watershed aimed at the sustainable distribution of its resources and the process of creating and implementing plans, programs, and projects to sustain and enhance watershed functions that affect the plant, animal, and human communities within a watershed boundary.
Likewise, Suhas P Wani and Kaushal K Garg of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India, in defining watershed management concept and principles explained that Watershed is not simply the hydrological unit but also socio-political-ecological entity which plays crucial role in determining food, social, and economical security and provides life support services to rural people.
And what are the main objectives of an integrated watershed approach? The different objectives of watershed management projects are; to protect, conserve and improve the land of watershed for more efficient and sustained production; to protect and enhance the water resource originating in the watershed; to check soil erosion and to reduce the effect of sediment yield on the watershed; to rehabilitate the deteriorating lands; to moderate the floods peaks at downstream areas; to increase infiltration of rainwater; to enhance the ground water recharge, wherever applicable. to reduce the occurrence of floods and the resultant damage by adopting strategies for flood management; and, to provide standard quality of water by encouraging vegetation and waste disposal facilities. However the Nigeria Erosion and watershed management project summarized all the aforementioned objectives into one: to reduce vulnerability to soil erosion in targeted sub-watershed.
Suffice to state; therefore that the activities of the NEWMAP project in Nigeria is no less in implementation as described above.
According to Salisu Dahiru, NEWMAP National Coordinator, the integrated watershed management approach; most especially the Livelihood and Community participatory aspect, made the project attractive to a great number of stakeholders. “This was why initially, eleven states indicated the desire to start off the project, however seven states; Abia, Anambra, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, and Imo now referred to as the first mover states were objectively considered and selected.
He believed that the successes recorded in these first mover states and the prospect of sustained progress towards the achievement of the project’s objective, led to requests by more states to join NEWMAP. In December 2014, after series of evaluation of applications from additional states, the FPMU and in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMoF) and World Bank (NEWMAP Project Task Team), seven additional states of Delta, Oyo, Sokoto, Gombe, Plateau, Kogi and Kano were cleared to join the Project, thus making the total number of NEWMAP Project states fourteen (14). These new additional states have recorded considerable progress in their efforts to commence Project implementation.
Speaking further, Dahiru revealed that presently the projects 21 gully erosion sites across the first mover states have achieved varying degrees of appreciable percentage completion after compulsory payment of compensation to about 500 project affected persons (PAP). He also noted that the project has provided job opportunities to more than 300 Nigerians.
Recently the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed management Project conducted a section of the media to some of its Project sites in Enugu(9th Mile and Ajali water works); Anambra, (Amachalla); Edo (Queen Ede & Oshiobhugie in Auchi); Ebonyi( Nguzu Eda in Afikpo); and Cross river(Ikot Anwatim, Atakpa and Nyanghasang).
The first leg of the tour was with the Honourable minister of state, Federal Ministry of Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jibril. The oversight activity commenced from the coal city of Enugu and ended in Awka, Anambra state.
Site Inspection by the Honourable Minister
Speaking to journalists after the exercise, the Minister of State acknowledged that the project, going by the activities on ground, “is meeting up with the development objectives of its existence”. He said the Federal Government was committed to ending erosion menace in the affected states.
A finger of Amachalla Site Before
According to him the partnership with states and the funding partners, i.e. the World Bank that led to the creation of NEWMAP has become very fruitful visibly in the 7 first movers states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Cross River and Imo.
Alhaji Jibril who attributed the increasing erosion menace in various parts of the country to what he described as harmful environmental practices by many Nigerians, observed that the beauty of NEWMAP intervention was that “it does not restrict itself to the bioremediation or reclaiming of the land, but also on road construction in some cases, as long as it is factored into the site design.
The project coordinator of NEWMAP in Anambra State, Mr. Michael Ivenso believed that the holistic watershed approach of the project; community participation, well detailed site engineering design, transparent procurement and fiduciary procedures as well as governments support in terms of payment of counterpart fund contributed to the success of the project in the state.
According to him, “Amachalla gully, one of the intervention sites in Awka, Anambra state capital, emanated from the uncontrolled storm water discharged down the steep sandy slopes of interconnecting village roads, and since there were no drains, the roads became the natural channels for conveying the storm water to the gully heads.”
He went further that the situation was compounded by the unplanned development within the area, adding, “the gully was about 172.27m long, 22m deep and 36.4m wide with an elevation between 122m to 153m above sea level.”
“Before 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 is 1Hectare 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 5-6persons.”
The media Team was also at the Palace of the Otaru of Auchi, His Royal Highness Alhaji Aliru H. Momoh, Ikelebe III, Otaru of Auchi Kingdom. The team entered Auchi from the axis of the Federal Polytechnic located in the town, students, travellers, traders, artisans, civil servants and all, provided the trappings of a busy community. At the Otaru’s palace we were ushered into the reception wing. As usual for those well acquainted with His Highness, he was very businesslike.
The Otaru of Auchi addressing the NEWMAP Media team
He commended NEWMAP; the Edo state government, particularly Governor Oshiomole for the vision to partner with NEWMAP towards addressing the decade long gully erosion menace that has divided and fragmented the Auchi city into many unreachable parts.
According to Him, a great number of houses and lives have been lost due to the gully erosion issues in Auchi. He said “previous administrations have tried to employ a piece meal approach to remedy the gully erosion issues. “ adding, “such methods was not only unproductive but rather escalated the level of degradation of the area.” He therefore commended the intervention of NEWMAP, its holistic and systematic approach which he described as the best standards and global best practice in fighting the erosion menace.
For those who may not be aware, prior to the intervention of NEWMAP, Auchi Gully (also called Oshiobugie Gully) was located in Auchi town. The Oshiobugie plain occupies a large area of land stretching from Warrake Road to Auchi – Igarra road in the main Auchi town. The gully cuts across the villages in Auchi- Osomekhe, Oluedide and so on. The flood water drains from the sloppy terrain, towards Orle River and this then affected roads and adjoining streets in the town. This led to a dangerous situation whereby Roads became severed and cut –off by the gully. Schools were threatened and structures submerged by the gully including pipes, as well as siltation of rivers in the area.
Auchi gully accelerated in the 1980s when the government engaged in several gully control construction activities within the area in their quest to prevent the action of the gully. In the intervention, most of the drainage systems have insufficient capacity, wrongly placed and in most cases abruptly terminated. All these anthropogenic factors together with the natural factor of convergent topography of Auchi town brought about further destruction and environmental degradation of the gully area.
A finger Auchi Site-Edo state before intervention
Auchi site remediated finger with solid drain and vegetation
According to Edo State Commissioner for petroleum and Environment, Prince Clem Agba, The nature of soil and topography coupled with the fairly heavy rainfall contribute immensely to the menace of gully erosion in the town. He however noted that primarily, the gully erosion was caused by a drainage channel that was abruptly terminated. The gully expanded with repeated rainfalls and the consequent huge overland flow and runoffs. The pattern of flow was such that the flood water flows through several communities such as Ibie, Jattu, Akharuma, Aibotse, Igbei, Akpekpe, Utsogu, Iyekhei, the GRA (through the general hospital) and Oluedide. Then, each heavy rainfall flow builds up to a heavy storm water that destroyed everything on its path before emptying into River Orle; 2km from the gully sites.
He noted before NEWMAP moved in the gully was “about 2.4 km in length, with a depth of about 25 -30 m, with the top and bottom widths ranging between 70-120m and 17-108m respectively, with a spread that resulted to seven (7) gully fingers.” He further explained that the erosion gullies became a great threat to the lives and properties of the town folks while in many situations hindered the socio-economic activities in the area over the years.
Describing the NEWMAP intervention activities in Auchi, the state project coordinator, Mr. John Adisa said that the project intervention was the watershed approach. He noted that other activities involved small-sized civil works such as construction of infrastructure and gully stabilization, using stone revetment to reclaim, protect and reinforce the exposed soil surface to stop scouring action of flow velocity. He said according to the engineering designs the project constructed extension of culvert from Otaru Road (Inu-Umoru street) into the gully, with chute channel, stilling basin, apron and installation of rip-rap and gabions mattresses at some areas of the gully.
He noted that the interventions were subdivided into three sections; Section 1 has Gully 1 (Obe Main) and its tributary gullies comprised Gully 3 (Obe road 1) and Gully 4 (Obe road 2 with other rills along Audu Momoh Lane 1 and 2). The maximum height of Gully 1 was about 26 m at CH0+723, that of Gully 3 about 18 m at CH0+365, and that of Obe street 2 was 6 m at CH0+253, stressing that “the depth of each gullies gives an idea about the effect that the erosion had with respect to neighbouring buildings before NEWMAP interventions.
Speaking further, Adisa noted that the depth of the gullies gives an idea about the activeness and destructions with respect to neighbouring buildings before NEWMAP came to the rescue. He said that Section 2 had Gully 2 and its other tributary gullies (Gully 6 and Gully 7). Gully 2 (NEWMAP intervention) located along Inu Umoru road with its head just beside Momoh Primary School. He said this area was then dilapidated by the gully. The maximum height of Gully 2 before intervention was about 24 m at CH0+860; that of Gully 6 was about 22 m at CH0+266 and that of Gully 7 was about 7 m at CH0+767.
Breath taking civil works mixed with bioremediation in one of the Auchi fingers reclaimed by NEWMAP
NEWMAP intervention in section 3, that is Gully 5, consists of check dams along the main gullies within catchment 7 of the entire Auchi watershed. Gully 5 has a maximum depth of about 12 m at its head and deepens to about 25 m (confluence with the main gully) in an estimated length of 147 m. The average top and bottom widths of the gully are 30 m and 10 m, respectively.
Queen Ede Site-Edo State before intervention
Queen Ede Now
The visit to Ebonyi was a very colourful. Just as it were in other south – eastern states, traditional drums and dancers heralded the entry of the NEWMAP team to its sites. This was put together by the livelihood beneficiaries over 300 who have been one way or the other affected by the project intervention in Nguzu Edda.
The Ebonyi state Commissioner for Environment, Chief Moses Ogodoali Nomeh enthused the impact of the project in the state. He said the state was very appreciative for the partnership with the Federal Government most especially the livelihood component of the NEWMAP project.
Lastly, the Project has done appreciably well in Cross river state. NEWMAP State Coordinator, Mr. Fidelis Anukwa explained that the project was currently working on five critical erosion sites in the state, including Ikot Anwatim, Ikot Ekpo, Edim Otop, Nyaghasang and Atakpa. He explained the precarious effects of erosion in the state prior to NEWMAP intervention, most especially erosion challenge in some communities in the state capital, Calabar including the New Navy International Hospital. “The project has brought relief to these communities especially Ikot Ansa which is a major erosion site in Calabar.”
A look at devastating effect of erosion in Nkot Nkebere-Cross River State
Commenting on the NEWMAP and erosion issue in the state the new State Commissioner for Environment, Engr. Mike Eraye recalled that for the past 30 years erosion has been a major threat to the aforementioned communities stating that in the past the state government had made several attempts to stop the damage and had done all in its power to control the damage which he described as a tip of the iceberg but they were not successful. He said for the little time that he came on board he could see that NEWMAP actually has touched lives with its intervention at reclamation, re-grassing and civil works.
Atakpa Site Cross River State Before Intervention
Atakpa Site Now
A Community Leader, Mr. Efiom Etim, thanked the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) and the World Bank for coming to their aid after a long time of living in fear of losing their property to erosion. He promised to galvanise other members of the community to work hand in hand with the project.
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