Agency team at Ukparibu Community, Bekwara LGA on a Participatory Rural Appraisal visit (PRA). Community Development Plan formulation is a high point in such visit.
Cross River benefit from multi-million Naira project
By Eme Offiong, Calabar
The Cross River state government, Southern Nigeria in collaboration with the World Bank, under the Community and Social Development Agency, has invested close to one billion Naira on development projects in over 152 villages.
General Manager of the Community and Social Development Agency, Mr. Victor Ovat said that the organization, since 2009 to September 2012 earmarked over 904 million Naira on 112 Community Development Plans, CDPs, to implement different projects across 14 Local Government Areas in Cross River state.
Ovat said the CDPs, which is further divided into 390 Micro Projects, MPs, covers seven sectors of the economy such as education, health, environment, Transportation and water and sanitation.
Others, he said, include rural electrification and socio-economy, which he explained involved the construction and equipping of skill acquisition centers, open markets and lock up stalls in the localities of intervention.
The General Manager said that the beneficiary local government areas include Akamkpa, Akpabuyo, Bakassi, Biase and Odukpani in the southern part of the state; Abi, Ikom, Obubra and Yakurr are areas from the Central district; while Bekwara, Boki, Obanliku, Obudu and Yala are beneficiaries from the northern part.
“The agency, which has as its motto, empowering communities through local participation, provides ninety percent of the fund and encourages the communities to invest only ten percent of the sum needed for the project,” Ovat said.
He said that previous studies indicated that communities, which did not participate in the process of development, allowed the infrastructure to rot, a situation considered to be a waste of resources since it was assumed that there were no capacities at the local level to drive development.
“The agency had to design the projects in such a way that the communities take active part in the selection of which infrastructure is situated in their locality,” he said.
“The idea was to get the communities, who though are poverty stricken, select the exact project they desired. The agency embarked on a sensitization of the people through a Local Government Review committee and this resulted to the formation of a joint consultative forum called the Joint Needs Assessment Process.
The process allows the use of various mechanisms to enable the agency efficiently align the challenges of the people to a particular fundable project. CSDP intervention covers particular areas, which the communities’ projects must fall into,” he added.
The Agency’s Chief said over seven hundred and seven million naira had been disbursed on projects in the various sectors. Of the 390 MPs implemented, 250 were completed, 42 are on-going, while 24 are yet to commence.
Ovat said that most of the funds disbursed were in the education sector with about 370 million Naira, closely followed by the health sector with over 126 million Naira.
He said the transport sector gulped a total of 71.9 Naira, while the socio-economic industry got 68.2 million Naira and water had over 67 million Naira, for the environmental sector-53.6 million Naira was invested to enhance the planting of 5,570 trees and rural electrification had just a little over 3 million Naira.
“For instance under Education, CSDP had funded classroom blocks, Libraries, Information Communication Technology centers, staff quarters and science laboratories blocks. We fund any viable projects the communities have identified as a priority in the area,” he said.
On monitoring of the projects within each community, Ovat said “the beauty of this project is that the agency does not award contracts. Everything is constructed by the communities. But, with the aid of a local government review committee, the agency can effectively monitor the use of these facilities.”
“We also liaise with state government to ensure that schools, health centers have qualified teachers and health workers to provide the necessary services, so that the beneficiary communities enjoy the facilities they have acquired,” Ovat said.
According to him, the projects have had tremendous impact on the beneficiaries who now have more children enrolled in school and a greater number of pregnant women as well as others utilizing the health centre within their locality.