The Nigerian government is partnering with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in an $8 million water project for enhanced agricultural output to help farmers and herders in the troubled North-east region.
Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday, the USAID Mission Director, Stephen Haykin, said the project will boost the livelihood of farmers and herders in the conflict-affected states.
The three-year project aims to address the identified gaps and needs of the livestock herders and crop farmers in the region, as well as strengthen their ‘resilience’.
The project, which began in 2019, has Borno, Adamawa and Yobe as benefiting states.
The official said “water for agriculture (WFA) will play a critical role in USAID strategy to develop new sustainable water sources in rural communities where displaced population are returning.
“It will also contribute to our promotion of agriculture led economic growth to improve resilience, nutrition and stronger governance of the water and sanitation sector.”
Mr Haykin explained the projects targets at least 4000 smallholder farmers and 50,000 livestock herders and would entail the construction of new earth dams and system for crop production and livestock watering.
He said promoting access to water “is critical at this time as farmers and herders depend on water for their livelihood which is increasingly threatened by climate change, inadequate investment, destruction of infrastructure, poor management practice and population growth.”
The Chief of Party, CSR, Ekramul Kabir, said the project aims “to stimulate adequate and sustainable water supply for food and livestock production.”
“The project also aims to enhance the capacity of target communities and local government institutions to manage, operate and maintain water infrastructure and sources,” he said.
Mr Kabir said the project is driven mainly on four components: Improving access to water for smallholder farmers and livestock herders; strengthening agricultural productivity and production capability of farmers and herders; enhancing the capacity of target communities to mitigate and reducing conflict among farmers and herders.
Also the deputy country representative of Catholic Relief Services, (CRS), Dane Fredenburg, said “WFA will establish water balance at watershed levels, construct and rehabilitate 21 water points as well as establish new irrigation schemes.”
“CRS, since its establishment in 1967, has been responding to emergencies and disasters, supporting those affected by communal conflict,” he said.
He said the project will strengthen community conflict resolution mechanisms “and apply conflict responsive approaches across all activities.”