Not until recently, a lot of social developments in Nigeria were directed towards people in the urban areas while those in the rural areas that make up the bulk of the population were relatively neglected. Although the necessary materials for the development of these rural areas abound naturally within their immediate environment, their lack of awareness and participation tend to impede community development.
The problem of social and political integration is, perhaps, one of the most intriguing to people of a developing society like Nigeria. No nation can achieve its goal the ideals of development. Let me not bore you with too much lectures on community development as this piece is meant to look at the giant strides achieved by the Kogi State Community Social and Development Agency (KSCSDA) under the leadership of its General Manager, Mallam Momoh Jimoh.
For those who might not know what Community Social and Development Project is all about, CSDP is a World Bank Assisted project that promotes Community driven development. The project is co-financed by the Federal Government and 30 participating states.
CSDP assists communities in the implementation of their felt needs with Micro Projects in Education, Health, Rural Electrification, Transportation, Water, Socio-Economic, Environment/ Natural Resource and Gender & Vulnerable Groups (GVG). For a state to participate in the CSDP, the state must have met the following criteria: first is the expression of interest by a state, a law establishing the state Agency for CSDP passed by the state House of Assembly and assented to by the State Governor, agreement that the state government transfer to the State Agency proceeds of the credit on non- reimbursement basis, project account certified by the FPSU and International Development Association (IDA) has been opened by the state and agreed initial amount deposited in the said account and staffing, office accommodation and Composition of Board or at least overseeing Ministry for the State Agency.
Kogi State having been able to fulfil the above listed conditions became disbursement effective and thus a participating CSDP state. The General Manager in a chat with The Graphic Reporter, threw more light on what community development was all about. “Basic to any developmental process is man’s desire for a better life and better environment.” However, development as stated in the 4th National Development Plan, “does not start with goods and things; it starts with people; their orientation, organisation and discipline.
When a society is properly oriented, organised and disciplined, it can be prosperous in natural wealth. This claim is quite true as it can be seen through the World Bank Community Social and Development Project which to a large extent has been rated as one of the most successful projects executed. This now brings us to the basic mandate of the KS-CSDA as related to 2016-2020 Community and Social Development Project – Additional Financing.
The overall goal of the CSDP according to its Project Operation/Implementation Manual (2011): “is to improve access to services for Human Development (HD)”. To achieve this laudable goal, the Project Development Objective (PDO) “is to support empowerment of communities and local government authorities for sustainable increased access of poor people to improved social and natural resource, infrastructure and services.”
One can specifically say that the avowed mandates of the CSDA are to: empower communities to Plan, Part-Finance, Implement, Monitor and Maintain Sustainable and Society inclusive Multi-Sectoral Micro- Projects. The GM further disclosed that in the Additional Financing, the credit to be spent on project in each state is $4M which he noted that some states have not been able to spend while others have exhausted the credit money on project. He stated: “When I came in barely two years ago, precisely 4th of April, 2018, the agency was under suspension for over a year which hindered project execution. “When I came in fully, I told myself and charged the staff that we must spend the allocation of the money given to the agency.
Today, am happy to inform you that since then, year in year out we have always being surpassing our previous achievements. For this year 2020, we had only 6 months which was suppose to end in June, 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the duration was extended to the end of September, 2020, which before the end of September we would finish attending to all the benefiting communities.”
He added that in pursuit of its avowed mandates as highlighted above, the Agency has embarked on a number of micro-projects, some of which has direct impacts on the socio-economic lives of the target population. For instance, the agency has been involved in micro-projects in the sectors of education, health, water, rural electrification, transport, socio-economic, environment and natural resources as well as gender and vulnerable groups. Some of the micro-projects in these sector-specific areas includes: classroom blocks, health centers, drilling of boreholes, rural electrification, roads/bridges, market stalls, civic/skills acquisition centers and construction of VIP toilets.
To ensure the success of projects undertaken by the Agency, a participatory approach was adopted. Hence, the beneficiary communities/groups identified and selected projects of their choice, paid a 10 per cent counter-part fund of total project cost while the Agency approved, monitored implementation/execution on stage-by-stage basis to ensure compliance to rules and standard. This collaborative approach indeed, led to successful completion of numerous projects on schedule.
He further added that the agency within the period under review embarked on over 72 Micro projects in the East, over 70 in Central and over 68 in the West senatorial district respectively. As a way to maintain the project executed, the agency trained beneficiary communities on facility maintenance and sustainability for Community Project Management Committee (CPMC).
While thanking the state government under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello for donating N200M to the agency, he further commended the governor for providing an enabling environment for the agency to effectively carry out her activities. In the area of challenges, the GM revealed that the basic challenges faced by the agency are beneficiary response to required project 10% contribution, and the need for well to do individuals in the community to help with finance and resources and time to reach out to more communities.
He also revealed that through the activities and mode of operation of the Agency, governance has been brought closer to the grassroots and the orientation of the people has been positively changed about development and accessibility to quality life. On the next project, the GM has the following to say: “the next phase of the project which we are hoping would kick-start in October is called COVID-19 Action Response and Economic Stimulus (CARES). According to him, the pandemic and containment measures stifled domestic activity and disrupted trade and transportation. Border closures and panic-buying led to a temporary hike in prices of some foodstuffs. As a result of these challenges, the CARES Project was set up to respond to the damages caused by the pandemic on our economy.
He disclosed that CSDP is the leading implementing agency with other two result areas which he named as: FADAMA and Small and Medium Skill Enterprises. Speaking on the plans for full implementation, he stated that CARES would be restricted to four intervention areas, namely, education, health, water, and nutrition with other areas like access roads, electricity and others.
To facilitate the activities of CARES in the country, each state, he disclosed, would be given a sum of $20M for a period of two years. This, he said, is going to be a programme for result, that is, within the duration of 6months, each state would have to show what they have done with whatever money they will be availed with for start up. He stressed that the total sum of money won’t be released at once as the money would be coming in as each state is able to make proper use of what they had been given.
by ATURU BISHOP