The discovery of gullies on Mars may well have been a propitious sign that the planet once had water, but in Nigeria, Africa’s second largest economy, gullies caused by the combined effect of water and wind erosion are wreaking havoc on life and property, and exacting a heavy toll in human suffering.
The severity of environmental degradation prompted the Nigerian government to seek urgent support from the World Bank to tackle the challenge in seven states on a pilot basis: Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu and Imo.
The Bank responded through the US$500 million IDA-financed Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) and has mobilized a strong coalition at national and international levels to tackle and reduce soil erosion on a war footing. The project became effective on September 16, 2013 and has received $3.96 million from the Global Environment Facility and $4.63 million from the Special Climate Change Fund.
“It was eye-opening to see the severity of damage caused by erosion,” said Benoit Bosquet, Africa Region Sector Manager for Environment in West Africa who led the implementation support mission to Edo and Imo states, Nigeria. “The NEWMAP project is breaking new ground by mobilizing funding, technical assistance, and local expertise including community engagement to tackle a pressing problem.”