Water, which is supposed to be a blessing to farmers and fishermen have become a nightmare for Kuchita community in Kwara state. The community, located centrally within Lafiagi town in Edu Local Government Area, is battling to tackle problems of erosion.
An agrarian and vibrant community with a large expanse of land for farming is at the mercy of erosion. Although , dominated by farmers and fishermen, hunting and fish processing remain a source of livelihood for its people.
The community is blessed with an undulating landscape otherwise known as a flood plain, hence the people of Kuchita are mainly rice farmers who use the flood plain as rice paddies for the cultivation of rice.
However, they are also prone to water erosion whenever there is excessive rainfall, hence the need for an effective flood and erosion control in the area.
Succor may well smile on the community through a platform offered by a civic technology organization, BudgIT Nigeria. Through its Tracka project, the organization hopes to draw attention to the plight of the community.
“Tracka is a project by BudgIT which enables citizens to monitor and give feedback on public projects within their communities in order to enhance public service delivery,” Project Officer for Tracka, Olarenwaju Lawal, explains.
He said: “This project was initiated by Senator Mohammed Shaa’ba Lafiagi (representing Kwara North Senatorial District) in 2016 as a constituency project for a princely sum of Fifty-two million naira (#52,000,000).
“A sensitization program was held in the community by BudgIT tracking officer to sensitize and enlighten the residents of Kuchita about this important project for their community.
“This drew an almost immediate response from the authority as work began in the middle of 2017 only to be abandoned a few months later.
“As at the end of 2017, only about one-fifth of the road has been graded with the accompanying drainage channels. It must be noted that for such a humongous sum as stated in the budget, the quality of work done is below standard.”
According to him, a subsequent visit to the project site in 2018 confirmed the fears expressed by the BudgIT Tracking Officer about the quality of work done as some sections of the drainage channels have begun to cave in even while we are still in the dry season.
“One is left to ponder the fate of the rest of the road when the rains arrive. During a recent advocacy program early this year, with the residents of the community, by BudgIT Tracking Officer, the residents were sensitized and enlightened about this project in the 2017 budget for another whooping sum of sixty million naira (#60,000,000) and they were admonished to write letters to their representative (i.e Senator Mohammed Shaa’ba Lafiagi), who coincidentally, is from the same ward, and same area as the residents of this community,” he noted.
Mr. Lawal added that despite the best efforts of the community in engaging the senator for the completion of the project in the community, nothing came out of it.
“The fact that this project is also captured in the 2017 budget for a mind-boggling sixty million naira (#60,000,000) coupled with the disappointment of the residents on the abandoned state of the project, led to a confrontation with the senator when he came home last November for the Kwara State local government elections.
“This sad but avoidable incident led to the death of about four youths in the village from the hands of security personnel (military) at the request of the Senator,” he said.
“The traditional head of the town, the Emir of Lafiagi, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Saa’du Kawu Haliru (CFR) and the residents of the community are appealing to the government to revisit this all-important project with a view to speedily complete it on time so as to avoid the catastrophic consequences of flooding when the rains arrive in full force,” he added.