The Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) has concluded a Data Validation Mission to Edo State Project Management Unit with visits to gully and erosion sites in the State.

The sites visited were the remediated Queen Ede gully site; the Urora Flood Alleviation and Protection Construction Works site; the Edo College gully remediation site and the Gapiona Flood Alleviation and Protection Construction Works.

The Team also visited the locations of the business enterprises of the Community Interest Groups (CIGs) which are being funded by the Project as part of its livelihood enhancement programme.

During the site visits, the officials of the NEWMAP Federal Project Management Unit (FPMU) interacted extensively with Project-Affected Persons and beneficiaries with a view to ascertaining the impact of NEWMAP in their lives and in the communities.

At Queen Ede site, the Chairman of the Site Committee, Barrister Sunday Imolode and Rev. Father Richard Ofere of the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church expressed deep gratitude to NEWMAP for doing what seemed impossible in their lifetime.

Barrister Imolode spoke on the diligent manner the entire civil works and livelihood enhancement activities were carried out at the site and stressed that much impact had been made in their lives.

Rev. Father Ofere, who has become the face of NEWMAP in Edo State, spoke glowingly of the relief, as well as numerous social and economic benefits of the Queen Ede gully remediation to the people of the community.

The operators of the Queen Ede Poultry Farm, run by one of the CIGs, stated that the business had made a difference in the lives of the people of the area, adding that they had also acquired much knowledge of poultry farming.

Several other Project beneficiaries expressed appreciation to NEWMAP for their rescue from untold hardship and sleepless nights occasioned by unending flood and gully erosion.

Team Leaders of the Data Validation Mission, Communication and Mobilization Specialist, Dr. Adebayo Thomas; Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Mukhtar Yakubu Tanko and Environmental Safeguards Specialist, Mrs. Theresa Ajiboye commended the SPMU for their efforts and made a number of suggestions on actions that should be taken to improve on what had been done. They stressed the need for installation of sign posts by the SPMU and contractors in all the sites and other operational areas and also the need to maintain a zero-tolerance on issues of safeguards.

On his part, the State Project Coordinator of Edo NEWMAP, Dr. Tom Obaseki expressed satisfaction with the progress made by NEWMAP in the State over the years.

He explained that Edo NEWMAP was at the moment handling about ten sites in different parts of the State and expressed joy with the pace of work at the various sites.

On the Gapiona Flood Alleviation and Protection Construction Works, Dr. Obaseki stated that the contract was geared towards solving the perennial flooding that had devastated the Government Reservation Area (GRA) and other parts of Benin City, rendering many families homeless over the years.

The Project Coordinator said the Gapiona project was made up of six ponds to control the speed of water, adding that the target is to take the flood water to Ogba River.

He thanked the visiting Team for going round the sites and coming up with useful suggestions and assured the Mission that the SPMU would carry out the suggested actions accordingly.

The Data Validation Mission, which is a nationwide activity, is aimed at validating available data on project implementation and assessing the impact of NEWMAP activities on the lives of the beneficiaries.