Every project has a life span, and so does the Community and Social Development Project (CSDP). The Project (an Anambra State Government Planned Undertaking in partnership with the World Bank) has made its mark after nearly two years of operation and closed shop on the 30th of September, 2020.
The Anambra State Community and Social Development Agency (ANCSDA)came into existence over a decade ago through an enactment by the Anambra State House of Assembly, but the project did not take off immediately until August 1, 2018, and commenced community implementation by March of 2019. The implementation came due because of the special interest shown by Governor Willie Obiano in community development which his government had earlier demonstrated in the Community-Choose-Your-Project initiative. The board of the agency was constituted under the chairmanship of the traditional ruler of Nteje, Chief Rowland Odegbo and overseen by Mr. Chudi Mojekwu who had earlier managed the state FADAMA project.
Arriving at the needy communities in the 12 local Local Government Areas of Awka North, Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, Orumba North, Dunukofia, Orumba South, Anaocha, Oyi, Ogbaru, Idemili North and Ihiala was achieved, using the State Poverty Mapping. While the areas of intervention – about seven sectors in all – were determined by the communities through expression of interest. The communities also planned; part financed, implemented, monitored and maintained any of the projects they host.
To the agency’s credit, a total of 62 communities, 17 vulnerable groups and well over two million beneficiaries have been empowered with access to improved social and natural resource infrastructure. About 249 micro projects were supported with over a thousand temporal jobs, direct and indirect, created. Trainings were offered the youths in various skills acquisition like carpentry, tailoring, phone repairs, bead making, hair dressing, etc., with a proviso to step it down on return to their different communities.
Apart from project implementation and other forms of pro-poor interventions, the agency was able to approve 58 Community Development Plans and 17 Group Development Plans for possible use by the state in her quest for integrated development. It also made some critical interventions in area of social responsibility in giving psycho-social support to care-seekers and victims of various kinds of trauma, including gender-based violence, domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, herdsmen attack among others by the agency staff trained on such matters. The agency equally played pivotal role in sensitization of many communities on protocol observation at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. True to that commitment, the sensitization was taken to the far reaches of the communities by the agency’s field workers who had earlier been trained on the pandemic protocols.
However, not all its efforts to provide access to improved economic and social infrastructure to the communities, hitherto without them, came through. Working with the resources available to it, the agency was able to attend to appreciable number of expression of interest communicated to it by the communities. Note however that not all of them could be managed as the agency’s guns were without sufficient power, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, to bring about total reduction in the request made. Its funding was affected because of budgetary and time constraints in much the same way rains and flooding threatened some of the projects implementation.
So far as the achievements of the agency were, nothing except perhaps Governor Obiano’s Community-Choose-Your-Project model that covers all the 180 communities in the state can claim effective implementation. The agency achieved within its short period of existence remarkable improvement in infrastructural development in the focal communities where its efforts were directed. The Amanuke Feeder Road and Culvert, the Ndiukwuenu Science Lab, Okpeze Rural Rlectrification, Ezi Anam VIP Toilet, Enugwu Aguleri Civic Centre, Nkpunando Health Centre, Umuzu Community Secondary School, Igbakwu Community Secondary School, Onneh Water Borehole, etc., were some of the projects implemented by the agency which will continue to speak to the hearts of the beneficiary communities.
With what it achieved through the Community and Social Development Project, the Anambra State Community and Social Development Agency could easily claim to be the consolidation and institutionalization agency for the government’s community and social development interventions. It brought immeasurable joy to the communities and it is expected that any other project that may come in its stead, should strive to consolidate on the gains already made. Without doubt, the CSDP accentuated all the efforts made by the Anambra State government in driving a comprehensive and equitable development of the state. Already the beneficiary communities are expressing the hope that the project should continue or worse case scenario metamorphose into a new one in order to continue with the good works.
In the agency, the state has a chance to drastically reduce poverty of infrastructural development in most of her rural communities, especially those considered to be particularly in need. Perhaps it is only in continuity that this expectation is better served and the whole idea of comprehensive development as envisaged by the Obiano government can be achieved.
––Ejike Anyaduba, Abatete