’The director of drought, desertification, coastal zone management (DDCZM) of Ecological Fund Office (EFO), Yusuf Aliyu Addy, has disclosed that the office was working hard to checkmate the growing rate of 0.6 metres advance of the desert into Nigeria.
While fielding questions from newsmen in Abuja, he emphasised that EFO complement the activities of National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW) though both organisations had sorted out the skimishes militating against their progress.
“Both the NAGGW and EFO are synergising to see how we can complement ourselves and work towards improving the Northern parts of Nigeria,” he said.
He pointed out that one of the critical areas raised during their discussions centred on early warning signs for droughts and desertification stating that the federal ministry of environment has placed some data collection installations in parts of northern Nigeria.
Addy insisted that the office would commence intervention projects in the north-east soon given the present administration’s determination to cripple insurgency in the affected states.
He noted that EFO suspended most of their projects due to high level of insurgency in the north-east.
The director said that community and state ownership of the projects had posed lots of challenges for the office saying that plans were underway for states to contribute to the projects effectively for proper ownership.
According to him, “If we bring 65 per cent and they contribute 35 per cent to each project, they will be able to exhibit more ownership and do a lot on issues of dirts and defecations which is part of the greatest challenges.”
Also speaking, the permanent secretary of EFO, Dr Habiba Lawal,confirmed that the office was working out new set of strategies in engaging with states stressing that the strategies were contained in a survey that would be presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for endorsement.
“We were directed by FEC to do the survey and come up with clear strategies on criteria for assessing it and to improve based on the lessons we have learnt while implementing some of our projects so that we can proffer better strategies for improving engagements with the states, local goverments and communities,” he explained.
Lawal hinted that government was concerned about the threats ecological problems pose to livelihood, ecosystem, social cohesion but most importantly the economic activities of affected communities.
She recalled that the office held a forum in December with all EFO contractors and consultants towards improving the quality of works at the respective sites as well as improving communication for more sustainable project delivery.
Lawal was optimistic that the EFO was knowledgeable on the entire ecological concerns across the country such as soil erosion, desertification, pollution, costal zone management and drought.
She noted that since the inception of PMB administration in May that about 85 projects were awarded and 47 had been completed while 41 was still ongoing.
“The over 50 per cent of the 41 ongoing projects will be completed by end of May 2018, while the 47 projects that have been completed will be commissioned and handed over to different communities in a few weeks,” she explained.
Lawal pointed out that EFO has introduced the practise of handing over and commissioning of completed intervention projects, just as she urged benefiting communities to report bad quality of works that would mar the image of the office.
She emphasised that the absence of official handing over of the projects in the past contributed to dilapidation due to lack of care and maintenance.
The perm sec pleaded with the media to assist the office in sensitising beneficiaries against turning the project drainages into refuse site.
She however warned against using the projects as open defecation spots adding that such trait defeated the aim of investing huge amount of money on the projects.
“It is important that the public see every government project in their environment as theirs and monitor the execution of such works to keep the contractors on their toes,” she concluded.