Living condition in most rural communities across Nigeria has always been very difficult and uncomfortable due to lack of basic infrastructure that are not readily available as obtainable in the urban areas. This development has also resulted to sharp migration of rural dwellers to modern cities where they could have access to enjoy such privileged of standard life. Rural communities in Kogi state is no exception of the menace over decades. Joseph Amedu, Our Correspondent in Lokoja, writes on the impact of Kogi State Community and Social Development Agency (KSCSDA) in partnership with the World Bank to boost rural development in the state.
The dearth of infrastructure and basic social amenities such as potable water, road, healthcare/educational facilities and host of others, have been the bane of many rural communities in Nigeria, including Kogi State.
The situation has often occasioned poor living conditions for people at the grassroots with resultant high rates of rural-urban migration especially amongst the youth population.
But the stories of some rural communities in Kogi State are changing for better following the interventions by the Kogi State Community and Social Development Agency (KGCSDA) in partnership with the World Bank and the federal government.
The Community and Social Development Project (CSDP) is a Community Driven Development (CDD) intervention established by the federal government and World Bank in collaboration with state governments to effectively target social and environmental infrastructure at the community levels as well as improved LGA’s responsibility to service delivery.
KGCSDA which was established in March 2009 as an implementation agency, has the mandate of improving the socioeconomic condition of the population at the grassroots based on a demand-driven approach to project selection.
The project design cuts across multi-sectors which include education, health, water, transport, rural electrification, socioeconomic, natural resources/environmental sector as well as vulnerability/gender.
While the agency takes responsibility for the 90 per cent of the cost of each project executed across the communities, each benefitting community usually pays 10 per cent of the project cost as counterpart contributions to engender their commitments and participation in the projects.
Recently, a monitoring team from the agency took a tour some of the communities where the projects are being implemented across the three senatorial districts of the state to ascertain the level of impacts and to see areas that might need further supports.
Amongst some of the communities visited by the team include Eika-Adagu, Aboze, Ajimasi, Etahi, Asuwe, Inata, Odaire Okumehi, Odo-Akete, Agulapa, Ogbangede, Felele, Ubonye, Avurugo, Ogbagba all spread across Okehi, Okene, Kabba-Bunu, Lokoja, Kogi, Igalamela and Ibaji local government areas of the state.
At Eika-Adagu community in Okehi LGA of Kogi State, locals expressed delight over positive impacts of the rural electrification and road projects executed in the community by the agency.
District Head of Eika-Adagu New Layout, Shaibu Ibrahim, said the rural electrification project has opened up the community and boosted socioeconomic activities of the area.
He said artisans such as welders and other small scale business operators such as barbers and hairdressers who depend on electricity can now go about their businesses without problems.
According to him, a plot of land that hitherto cost about N250,000 in the area now sells as much as N500,000 because the rural electrification project in the community.
At Aboze community in Okene local government area of the state, the agency constructed a block of three classrooms fully equipped with desks, ceiling fans and toilet facilities for conducive learning environment.
Headmaster of the school, Musa Adam Adori said the pupils before now used a makeshift structure for learning, adding that the construction of the classrooms had offered conducive atmosphere for both teaching and learning.
According to him, more parents were willing to send their children to the school because of the conducive learning environment created in the place.
He thanked the agency for the project and appealed to them to assist in providing perimeter fencing for the school to enhance adequate security for the pupils.
A primary two pupil, Yakubu Aminat expressed happiness over her new school which she noted was conducive and of standard compared to what they had before.
At Ajimasa community in Okene local government area, a resident, Abubakar Aishat expressed happiness over the construction of their community road which had been in deplorable condition for many years.
She noted that the provision of drainage system in the community has saved many homes from perennial problem of flooding whenever it rains.
“We thank God for your intervention. The road is very smooth now. We have good drainage system. Apart from that, you have come to help us with solar street light. Anything from 6pm, the light will be on to illuminate the community and keep off criminal elements. It has also boosted business and socioeconomic activities in the community”, she said.
At Al-hilal Islamic Model College, Etahi in Okene LGA where the agency built and equipped a block of four classrooms, teachers and students who spoke to our correspondent expressed joy and gratitude over the project.
A tutor, Abubakar Ariki Mutakiyat said the new classrooms built in the place have made teaching and learning pleasurable for both teachers and students What we had before was not conducive.
“What we have now is conducive for us and our students. More parents are attracted to the school”, Mutakiyat.
Principal of the college, Mr Felix Momoh said “the project carried out has showcased the school to the whole world. We will always continue to remember the agency each time we look at the job done”.
At Asuwe community in Okene LGA, the agency constructed a community plaza with 15 shops for business as well as provided a transformer for electricity supply in the area.
Speaking on the project, the traditional head (Okorosiya) of Asuwe community, Chief Salihu Ovavi Adive said the projects have boosted economic activities in the community.
“We thank the agency for the plaza and transformer provided for us. The transformer is ready and only left to be energised.
“We are benefiting a lot. Here would have been bushy area now. The shops they built for us are 15 in number. People have taken over the stores. It has boosted business and socioeconomic activities. People no longer go far before they access what they need”, he said.
In the same vein, inhabitants of Inata community in Okehi local government area where an erosion control/drainage project was constructed could not hide their joy when the team visited the area.
Secretary of Inata Community Project Management Committee, Isiaka Haruna said the place usually get flooded and become inaccessible each time it rains due lack of drainage system and erosion control measures.
He however expressed happiness that the erosion control project has addressed community usually inaccessible.
A visit to Odo-Akete community in Kabba-Bunu local government area where water and erosion/drainage projects were executed, also indicates that wellbeing and livelihood of the people have been made.
A resident of the community, Esther Olorunfemi said they hitherto walked 4 to 5 miles to get water, adding that the provision of borehole in the locality has brought relief to them.
Toluhi Morris for his part said the drainage/erosion control projects has helped in addressing the problem of perennial flooding that has been bedevilling the community.
At Agulapa community in Kabba-Bunu, a resident, John Sunday who spoke on behalf of the people, could not hide his joy over the impact of the erosion control project executed in his area.
For her part, Sarah Bello of Odaire community in Okehi LGA, the borehole project executed in the area has brought succour to them as they no longer have to go far before having access to potable water.
Also speaking, a member of Odaire community, Avadime David, said “We used to experience water scarcity in the community but the execution of water project has brought succour to us. Work is also progressing on our electricity project”.
Community leader of Felele 1 community in Lokoja local government area, Musa Koto Adamu where drainage channelisation and culverts projects were executed by the agency, lauded the intervention.
According to him, the situation of the community was terrible prior to the intervention saying, “each time it rains, nobody can come in or go out of the community until after about two hours due to lack of culverts on our roads”.
He also said that some houses in the community had been destroyed by flood in the past.
“We have been battling with couple of environmental issues but thank God with your coming, we have been able to overcome. With the completion of the two projects you have already executed, we are heaving a sigh of relief.
“Before now, there is a stream along our road of which once it rains, if you are outside the community, you remain there for two hours until the rain subsides. If you are inside, you cannot go out. But thank God today, even if it is raining cat and dog, you can go in and come out of the communities freely. There’s no more problem.
“During the period of August and September, it is usually hell for those living around the drainage channels; some houses get submerged, flooded and all manner of things happening but with the completion of the drainage and culvert project, we are rest assured that such flood will not occur again. We thank the agency”, he said.
At Ubonye in Ibaji, a local, John Akor, expressed delight over the health facility provided in the community by the agency, saying it has helped in improving access to basic healthcare by the people.
The team also visited Avurugo and Ogbagba communities in Igalamela/Odolu local area as well as as Ogbangede community in Kogi LGA during which various beneficiaries expressed gratitude for the project executed in their communities by the agency.
Speaking after the tour, Communication Officer of KGCSDA, Dickson Itodo said the agency was happy with the level of impacts its projects have had on the benefitting communities in the state.
He advised members of the benefitting communities to give serious attention to the maintenance and adequate protection of their projects to ensure they serve them better.
He assured that the agency on its part would continue to work hard in the areas of improving good socioeconomic condition of the population at the grassroots based on a demand-driven approach to project selection an b ind implementations.