In a bid to curb the deteriorating effects of gully erosion in Anambra State, Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, has tasked communities to join hands with the state government in proffering preventive measures.
Soludo made the call on Friday during a town hall meeting on the erosion control and management with stakeholders drawn from five communities largely affected by gully erosion.
The town hall meeting tagged, ‘Delivering the solution mandate in erosion control’ was held at the Oko Civic Centre and the five communities in attendance were Nanka, Awgbu, Oko, Amaokpala, and Ekwulobia.
The governor also disclosed that pending the full adoption of the law, he will sign an executive order prohibiting sand mining near erosion-prone areas.
He stated that part of the challenge is that individuals have the wrong attitude towards the environment, but expect the government to do everything instead of contributing their quota as well.
He said, “The environment is Anambra’s most serious existential threat. The fifth finger of my administration’s manifesto is based on the environment; towards green, clean, planned markets, communities, and cities to make our environment sustainable,” the governor said.
“As an individual, what have you done today and tomorrow to combat the erosion threat?
“Active gully erosion is occurring in 146 Anambra communities which constitutes 81.5 per cent. The five communities that have assembled here today are at the epicentre of gully erosion. If we do enough of what we are meant to do, the rate of erosion will be reduced to 80 per cent.
“An action plan on sand mining law, regulation, and enforcement, community sensitisation, revenue collection, a statewide awareness campaign, designing roads for proper water channelisation and building catchment pits, among other things, shall be established.
“We already have a draft environmental law that will help to punish offenders,” he said.
The governor bemoaned the lack of a good plan and design for water channelisation in the state, adding that channel openings in Onitsha have already begun, adding that it is the revolution that must begin in other areas.
Governor Soludo observed that the greatest moment to act was decades ago, saying that the second best time to act is now, stressing the need to define individual and collective responsibilities.
The governor urged each community to establish a standing committee and an inter-community action team, as well as a robust enforcement arm.
“Anambra is heavily impacted by two natural disasters: flooding and gully erosion, controlling flooding alone will consume over N900 billion, which is Anambra’s total budget for many years.
“There would be marching funds for the five communities that will provide designated places where the government can begin tree planting to combat erosion,” he added.
Earlier, while welcoming the governor, the Transition Committee Chairman for Orumba North, Mr Ogochukwu Ekwueme, called on the governor to enact a legal framework that will help stop sand mining in the area, noting that it is a leading cause of erosion.
On his part, the Commissioner for Environment, Mr Felix Odimegwu, thanked the governor for working with the villages affected by erosion.