Developing Abuja's communities

Developing Abuja's communities

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Community and Social Development Project (CSDP) is a World Bank finance assisted project.

In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES’ Business reporter, Oge Udegbunam, the General Manager FCT/CSDP, Shuaibu Adamu, highlights the successes of the project.

PT: Many communities in Abuja are still undeveloped. How do you select and fund projects?
ADAMU: The FCT area councils have to give us a recommendation letter for the community we want to site a project. But, the selection of a project in a community must be in line with what the area council recommended. The community will also make available a commitment letter to show how committed they are.
This will help us to know that they can take certain responsibilities. After the completion of construction, the project will automatically belong to the community. After all the requirements are met, we will start considering the funding issues.

PT: How many communities have benefitted from this project?
ADAMU: Before the project began, we set out our first task which was poverty mapping. This task enabled us to locate resource-constrained communities.
Before December 2017, when the development plans began, the World Bank granted us golden certificate on April 23, 2018, after submitting three sets of community development plans. The implementation of the project actually started with a few communities in the first instance.
Today, the FCT/CSDP has funded over 160 micro-projects, while the World Bank is funding 40 supplementary projects, consisting of 30 community development projects and 10 group development projects.

PT: For the sake of accountability and transparency, how do you disburse money to the communities?
ADAMU: We give money in three tranches. After spending the first tranche, the benefiting communities will write to us that they have exhausted the allocation. They will state how they spent the money. Then, we will release the second tranche to them, after that is exhausted, another letter will be written before the third and final tranche of the money is given.
Between when the first tranche of funding is released and the next, we go for inspection unannounced, to see the speed of the on-going work in these communities and also to know if the money spent is commensurate with project carried out.
When the work is not done well, then it’s not our fault and vice versa, because it is the community that is in charge of engaging the contractor since the job is done in their domain.

PT: These communities have lots of projects they want. How do you determine the projects that are most important to them?
ADAMU: We do what is called ‘transparent rural approval.’ This means that after they have indicated interest in the project to us, we visit the community, have a meeting with every member of the community, and we will ask certain questions.
During such meetings, they will be divided into groups (men, women and youth). These groups will nominate projects, followed by an election conducted on the projects.
The projects with the highest votes will be carried out, because it means they are the most important ones.
Also, the size of the project matters, because we cannot construct more than two macro projects in a community. Before the projects commence, they will state the kind of project they need.

PT: The projects are likely to cost much money, do you fund the entire project?
ADAMU: We give them 90 per cent of the money, while they provide the remaining 10 per cent, either in cash or kind. But, before we give the community the money, we will make sure they have an existing account in a bank credited with their 10 per cent. Then, we pay in our first tranche so the projects can start. We could use labour to quantify the money. If their contribution is in kind, we will go and quantify the labour to know how much inputs they can add or provide.
Since they have registered with the area council, they will use the document as evidence of the contribution of their counterpart funding. Otherwise, they will show us the evidence of the account they opened. Usually, the community brings a contractor that will evaluate the project. Therefore, the communities are in charge of the entire process.
For example, if they want to construct a healthcare centre and the standard they desire is above the estimated cost, then they will change their project, considering the cost.

PT: How do you monitor the sustainability of the projects?
ADAMU: Any project we are doing, there is always a sustainability plan, which is first of all the ownership. Before we commence the project, we ask them questions on how they can maintain the project. There will be an election for the members of the monitoring committee, who will be the key people in charge of the project.
They will give periodic account on how they spent their money, including the auditing and procurement activities.
For example, some of these communities say they use monies obtained from the sales of drugs from the primary health centres (PHCs) to maintain them, while some sell water from the borehole to non-members of the community and the money realised is used to maintain/fix the borehole when it’s in a bad condition.
They have accounts where the money goes into. Also, communities that use flying boats get monies from passengers fare and use it to maintain the boat and the machine.

PT: Why do you ask these communities to contribute knowing that they are poor?
ADAMU: Well, it´s for the sake of ownership. When they contribute to the projects, they see the need to protect and maintain them. For instance, I went on an unannounced visit to one of the communities and I stopped beside the transformer that was part of the project carried out in that community.
A boy saw me moving towards the transformer in my car and he started raising alarm. He called people to come and harass me. So, I stopped the car and watched them move towards my car. When they got close and the elders realised that I was the one in the car, they became calm. If this project was funded by the government, they would have shown little or no concerns. So, by making them pay for a part of the funding gives them a sense of value for the project in a manner that makes them want to protect it as an owner should.

PT: Is it just communities you help to develop?
ADAMU: Well, no we have groups that we help to develop, like widows and people living with disabilities. When these groups of people are organised and they are helping themselves, and they indicate interest, we come in and help them.
We have different projects for them, just like the community projects. But, mainly lock-up shops, skill acquisition centres and boreholes. For example, Dorcas widows (an association) have where they stay, all we did was to expand it for them. They now have a computer training centre.

PT: Do these groups contribute 10 per cent of the funding of projects like the communities?
ADAMU: No. They pay five per cent. Usually, they are vulnerable. So, they may not have the money. So, we work with reliable non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The NGOs come in between us and the groups to facilitate the process, just like the area council does for the communities. The money they make from the projects is used for sustainability purposes.