Fighting poverty with  community projects

By Francis Akinnodi
Since independence, Nigeria has evolved several  socio-economic and development policies with the  sole objective of reducing poverty and improving living standard of the people. Some of these policies did not yield the planned outcomes while others inflicted more incidence of poverty on the citizens.

National socio-economic and development policies such as OFN, Green Revolution, SAP, DIFFRI, NDE, ADP, NEEDS/NAPEP and the recent SURE-P. Though the SURE-P is still ongoing but if the implementation strategy follows the old trend, it is likely to follow  the old failed policies.

The alarming rate of poverty in the country is not unconnected with the failure of the previous socio-economic and development policies .

Empirical analysis and evidences gathered in the last nine years of the implementation of Community and Social Development Project (CSDP) across Nigeria and in particular Ondo State showed that the failure of the previous development agenda was due mainly to lack of participation.

The CSDP adopts the Community Driven Development, CDD, approach; a bottom-up project management principle which makes the project beneficiaries the pivot in the conception, planning, implementation, supervision, monitoring, evaluation and ownership of development projects. While the previous development programs of government considered the beneficiaries as object of development using a top-down approach, CSDP conversely sees the people as subject that are able to drive their own development.

For any development program to achieve the desired outcomes, the targeted beneficiaries must be involved at every stage of the project cycle. The essence of participation in development project among others is to enhance sustainability.

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According to the General Manager, Ondo State Community and Social Development Agency (ODCSDA), Mr. Bosun Ogundipe said CDD enhanced the proper governance through people participation. The people drives their own development. It brings the process of governance closer to the citizen. It allows the people to take decisions concerning their development.

He said, “Through the assistance of World Bank, the Ondo State Community and Social Development Agency has initiated over 229 micro projects across the local council areas of the state with direct impact in poverty reduction of the people”.

Some of the projects included extension of electricity, installation of transformer, construction of community halls, boreholes, construction of drainages, culverts grading of roads, blocks of classrooms, filling of drainages and construction of bridges.

The communities that benefitted from the World Bank assisted projects included Eleyowo, Owode, Litaye, Ayetoro, Oke Alaafia, Ologundudu, Agunla and Egwure Oba among others. The communities are scattered across Ondo West, Ileoluji/Okeigbo, Akure North, Odigbo, Ilaje and Eseodo Local Governments.

Also, Operation Manager, ODCSDA, Mr. Olumide Igbaroola, while explaining the important of fighting poverty through community projects, said the projects were executed through community driven approach with the overall goal to improve access services for human development.

Igbaroola stated that the projects are to support empowerment of communities and local government for sustainable increase access by the poor people to improve social and natural resource infrastructure services.

According to him, the first phase of the projects which commenced in 2009 with World Bank financing the project with $5m while the state released the sum of N345m as its counterparts fund.

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Igbaroola stated that many communities from the state benefitted from the first phase of the project, but said the project was wind down in 2014. He however said the success recorded during the first phase facilitated the commencement of the second phase immediately in 2015

His words ” the success story of the first  phase brings about additional financing which commenced in June 2015 with more emphasis on gender and vulnerable groups

“As at November 2018, about 59 projects have been approved and funded by the agency. The implementation was carried out by the Community Project Management Commission (CPMC) and completed.

Explaining how the projects are approved and  initiated  Igbaroola said “for intervention in any community, Expression of Interest would be received by the agency from the community.”

“We then visit the community to see their claims, prioritize their needs, plan, part finance, implement, monitor and maintain these projects.

“A democratically elected committee  is saddled with the responsibility of relating with the agency, local government and the community on all matters on projects in their domains.

“The Community Project Management Committee is then equipped with skills on project implementation particularly on transparency and  accountability which are the bedrock of development”.

According to him, the communities are allowed to participate in the process from the beginning to give them  sense of belonging, saying this will allow them to take proper care of the projects because of their financial and other involvement.

He said, “the project emphasise equal opportunity hence gives voice to the voiceless in the community. Gender and vulnerable are allowed to participate even their  needs are given priority in any community of intervention.

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