Erosion in South-East zone worsens

EROSION has become a serious threat in all the five states namely Abia, Anambra,  Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States that make up the southeast geo-political zone.

Nigerian Tribune’s investigation revealed that erosion devastation is real in Igbo land as some parts of the zone have had their soil, rock removed from one location to another.

The worst hit is Anambra State where gully erosion has displaced many families from their ancestral land.

The Federal Polytechnic, Oko, is also at the precipice of going under as facilities, which include the Science Laboratory Technology (SLT) and auditorium of the institution under construction may be destroyed by an encroaching gully unless something is done to save them.

It was gathered that the school had sunk over N8bllion into erecting some of the structures now being threatened.

Further checks showed that in Anambra State alone, more than 900 erosion sites exist in over 177 communities. Notable among them are Oko, Ebenebe, Nanka, and Agulu.

A resident in Agulu, who simply identified himself as Ifeanyichukwu,  said erosion had devastated their land, making many of them homeless.

Ifeanyichukwu, however, blamed the problem of the erosion on human activities especially indiscriminate dumping of waste products as well as felling of trees.

A report from Abia State also tells of untold hardship the people of Ohafia-Arochukwu axis and the Umunneoche Local Government Area are undergoing as a result of life-threatening natural disaster. The people of Nguzu-Edda  and Abia Iwerre communities in Afikpo South Local Government Council, Ebonyi, have some of the worst erosion sites in the region.

It was also learnt that the Federal Government is leaving the erosion problem to the affected people alone to solve the problem as it has merely, through the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), intervened in the area.

But the irony is that the more the government intervenes, the more new erosion sites are discovered. For instance, as of now, the NEWMAP is intervening in Amachalla gully in Awka South, Uruokpala-Umudunu erosion in Abagana Njikoka, St. Thomas Aquinas/Nero Plaza in Awka, and the New Heritage erosion site at Omogba, Onitshayet new erosion sites are developing in the area.

In Imo, the Akwakuma erosion has narrowed the road to Onitsha and other adjoining areas. For Enugu, parts of Udi and Ezeagu, on the Enugu- Onitsha road, are seriously ravaged by erosion. The road, which is a dual carriage way, has been reduced to one lane with various parts of the road washed off. In Enugu State, respite seems to be on the way of the people of the state’s 29 communities as they are benefitting from NEWMAP intervention in erosion control.

Disclosing this at a roundtable media conference as part of its activities to mark the World Environmental Day in Enugu recently, the  Project Coordinator of NEWMAP, Mrs Agatha Lechukwu , said that N20milion had been earmarked for the beneficiaries to start their livelihood, stressing that  that there were extensive community mobilisations and sensitisations on erosion control measures.

“The innovative is a multi-sectoral project which supports state-led  interventions to prevent and reverse land degradation on a demand-driven basis. Initially, it was focused on gully erosion sites in the southeast states that threatened infrastructure and livelihoods as  well as re-establishing and securing ecosystem functions in the North especially states in the Sokoto-Rima and Niger basins”, she added.

According to her, “NEWMAP uses a holistic watershed management approach and the use of world best practices in engineering designs and structures and no less attention to livelihood issues. We apply bio-remediation measures which is the use of vegetation (grass) to  complement civil works in treated gully erosion areas to enhance regeneration.”