By ABAH ADAH, Abuja
The minister of State for Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jibril, has said with a capital of $500 million made available by the World Bank, the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) will adopt a holistic approach in tackling gully erosion which has been plaguing different parts of the country.
NEWMAP is a World Bank assisted project under the Ministry of Finance aimed at tackling erosion across Nigeria.
Speaking when he paid a courtesy visit to the corporate headquarters of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Jibril said the project was on-going in 19 states where gully erosion is prevalent, adding that three more States have applied for attention but are still on queue as the fund earlier released had been exhausted.
He said as soon as more funds are released, work will resume in earnest and more states with the same problem of gully erosion will be given attention.
Explaining what NEWMAP has been doing so far on the ravaging impact of erosion in some parts of the country, the minister said, “The initial capital that the World Bank is giving is $500 million for NEWMAP, an initial conception for the six South-eastern states that are heavily affected by gully erosion. It is a crucial programme meant to attack the gully erosion that has been plaguing different parts of the country.
“NEWMAP comes with a holistic approach. In the past, gully erosion-tackling-method was to get cement and build the block and drainages and that is all. And where there was a heavy storm, the whole thing is washed off, and then back to square one. NEWMAP project is addressing it from the two dimensions to it.
“It is tackling gully erosion from the root of it which is the watershed and the downstream. Soil erosion is a critical factor here. The impact of heavy rain drops and running waters on soil is huge. It is good to point out here that the nature of the soil in question matters- whether it is gummy (as in clay), dark (as in humus) and loose (as in sand).
“To tackle the menace you first tackle the erosion, then the watershed. This can be done by planting grass and where there are grasses, trees- preferably economic and food trees- to protect the soil from the direct impact of rain and at the same time be of benefit and interest to people, thus making them see it as their own and protecting the environment. In a nutshell, this is what NEWMAN has been doing”.
On environmental sanitation, Jibril said it was needless to wield the country back to the days of telling people not to come out from 7:00am to 10:00am, pointing out that the method only contributed to making people lazy.
He stated that the best way to have effective environmental sanitation wad by sensitising the people on why they should be embarking on the exercise regularly and making them realise the grave health consequences of living in an unclean environment.
He said, “You know that even as at then some people would sleep soundly until 10:00am which is the no-movement deadline and then dress up, enter their cars and hit the road without doing anything. Then of what use is the exercise?
“Until people realise the importance of what you are asking them to do, you will not get to do what you want. Just like the issue of the crash helmet now; many people do not understand its importance or why they must use it and as such, when they see no law enforcement agent, especially at night, they never attempt to wear it.
“My opinion is that we need to go back and sensitise the people on this so that they can see its importance to them and willingly do it. Until people realise the usefulness of something, they will not take it serious no matter what you do. And to me sanitation is not a monthly affair; it should an everyday practice and a continuous one at that. You don’ wait until the end of the month before you clean clean your toilet and surroundings. It must be done every day”.
Speaking on the ongoing cleanup of Ogoni land, the Minister also disclosed that his ministry in collaboration with the United Nations Trading Organisation was looking forward to training 1, 200 Ogoni women in various areas of human endeavour based on individual’s choice.