IFAD-backed management programme to boost community development in the Niger Delta

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IFAD-backed management programme to boost community development in the Niger Delta

Press release number: IFAD 29/03

Rome, 9 July, 2003 – Extremely poor rural people in Nigeria’s nine Niger Delta States will benefit from a USD 82.2 million programme that will help communities organize to better manage their natural resources and take advantage of other opportunities for development.

The programme will be financed partly by a USD 15 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The loan agreement was signed today at IFAD headquarters by Professor Gabriel Lombin, Minister Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the United Nations Food & Agriculture agencies in Rome and the IFAD Vice President, Mr Cyril Enweze. An equal financing partner in this programme is the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), whose Executive Director, Mr Ukot Thomas Ukot, was also present at the signing.

A major challenge for the programme will be to reduce tension and conflict in the region, especially among young people who have not been able to take advantage of the riches produced by the Niger Delta’s extensive natural resources. Improving employment opportunities for young people will therefore be a focus of the programme.

The area of Nigeria covered by the programme is rich in natural resources, with large oil and gas deposits, extensive forests, good agricultural land and abundant fish resources. However, more than 30 years of oil development have failed to bring significant benefits for the majority of people in the region. Poverty is widespread, and particularly severe in rural areas.

The programme recognizes that poverty eradication and successful rural development depend on the involvement of local communities. There will be a strong focus on strengthening grassroots organizations, and a fund will be established that will make loans available for community development activities. Activities will include building capacity to manage natural resources sustainably. For example, people involved in artisanal fisheries will be able to learn how to manage overexploitation, how to develop a regulating mechanism for fish stock depletion and quality assurance techniques to deal with environmental degradation.

The programme will operate in nine Niger Delta states – Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers and will reach about 400 000 rural poor people.

With this programme, IFAD will have financed seven projects in the Republic

IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. Since 1978, IFAD has financed 625 projects in 115 countries and in the West Bank and Gaza for a total commitment of approximately USD 7.9 billion in loans and grants. Through these projects, about 250 million rural people have been supported in their efforts to overcome poverty.