Judex Okoro, Calabar
Erosion is on rampage in 10 communities in Cross River State. A visit to Nyagsang community, Edim Otop, Calabar Municipality, tells a picture of despair and hopelessness as residents recounted the challenges faced over the years due ravaging gullies.
Many houses were destroyed by erosion and many more are under threat of destruction. Activities were at the lowest ebb in the communities when Daily Sun first visited.
Succour, however, appeared to be on the way of the communities. This is because World Bank assisted Cross River State Erosion Project (CRS-NEWMAP), embarked on construction of drainages and rural roads in the affected areas.
The CRS-NEWMAP project is a flagship Project with great impact on environment and social development across the country.
The benefiting communities including Ikot Nkebre, Atakpa, Edim Otop, Ikot Ekpo, Ikot Anwatim, Ikot Uduak, Ikot Enebong, Nyanghasang and LEMNA/Agric Quarters have been ravaged by erosion for over decades.
Commissioner for International Development and Cooperation, Dr Inyang Asibong, said the state was with high performance indices in the implementation of NEWMAP among the selected states in the country:
“The aim of NEWMAP is to reduce vulnerability to soil erosion in targeted sub-catchment areas including Cross River.
“The aim is to ensure communities enjoy the benefits of the intervention, with some designed mechanisms. We have resolved with the community members to change the dynamics, especially regarding their erosion control activities.”
The project coordinator, Mr Fidelis Anukwa, said the state set up committees to sensitise the affected community members on the procedure for implementation of the livelihood activities for them to take full ownership: “We have put in place additional four Community Intervention Groups (CIGs) in each of our affected communities, and legally registered 10 community associations.
“The Community Action Plan and Livelihood Business Plan proposals for funding have been developed and reviewed. Besides, the behaviour change campaigns on proper disposal of waste were conducted in the communities.
“Works are on going, with some already completed. Some of the erosion-ravaged communities in Ikot Nkebre, Atakpa, Edim Otop, Ikot Ekpo, Ikot Anwatim, Ikot Uduak, Ikot Enebong, Nyanghasang and LEMNA/Agric Quaters within Calabar metropolis as part of the CRS-NEWMAP intervention program in the state. Plans are also underway to scale-up the intervention programme.”
A resident of the affected Nyagasang community, Mr Micheal Akpan, disclosed that over 100 residents in the area were displaced from their ancestral homes due to the ravaging erosion: “The gully site has eaten deep into this area and is beginning to fall down houses.”
Another resident, Mr Umoh Umoh, who said he has lived in the area for over 30 years said there was no ravine in the area at the early stage of building: “When the ravine started building up, the community planted bamboo trees to curb the widening of the ravine.
“We have written countless letters to them as well as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NEWMAP). They keep assuring us that they will come and work on it. We are yet to see them and this problem has been deteriorating over the years.
“The menace has affected us severely and whenever it rains. We live in fear and cannot stay in our houses because we are afraid of being washed up into the ravine. We are happy that NEWMAP has started to intervene.”