By Sony Neme
State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR), a European Union (EU) and World Bank-assisted project, has targeted illiterate and semi-literate youths across several Delta State communities.
The initiative, which ends September 30, commenced in April 2012, and was declared effective from July 1, 2013 by the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.
The project, jointly funded by the World Bank through a concession loan of $200 million and EU’s grant of $78.4 million, brings into focus the synergy between the Federal Government, international donors and participating states that have keyed into SEEFOR.
The initiative by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, which aimed to arrest youth restiveness, surpassed the World Bank target of 8,734 direct employment, hitting 9,515.
Within seven years during its fourth phase of operation, 14,975 entrepreneurs were trained.
While presenting an update on Delta SEEFOR Implementation in Asaba recently, Project Coordinator, Mr. Frank Apokwu, explained: “The total funds allocation to Delta for SEEFOR projects in the period under review was $58.8 million, comprising the International Development Association (ADA) credit of $41.1 million and EU’s grant of $17.7 million, which is complemented by an annual state government’s counterpart cash contributions.
“As a result, the project’s focus has been on completing all outstanding activities within the limits of available funds; and some of the achievements of the projects across its two components were Youth Employments through Small Public Works and Access to Socio Economic Services.”
Apokwu said this has provided employment for 9,515 youths in its Labour Intensive Small Public Works Projects, as against a target of 8,736 set by the World Bank.
“A breakdown of those trained reveals that 11, 773 benefited under the state technical and vocational education (TVET), 740 were on the Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Programme (STEP) of the Job Creation office with starter parks and 209 under the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurial Programme (YAGEP), while 101 got different vocational skills in the Labour Intensive Works Project scheme among others.”
The state commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr. Barry Gbe, in his remarks, allayed the fears of communities that were yet to benefit, and those whose projects are ongoing.
He said the project’s September 2020 wrap up of the phase will not be the end as the World Bank and the state government would sustain the intervention.
“At the end of the programme, we are coming with a sustainable plan to ensure continuity. On the side of the World Bank, they are also coming up with more projects,” he said.
A beneficiary, Mrs. Chidinma Oheji, a wife and mother of three from Obowo in Imo State, commended the initiative, saying it has improved her living condition.
The beneficiaries spoke during a tour of some of the projects executed in Ughelli.
The completed project sites visited were science laboratory and examination hall at Unenurhie Secondary School; multi-purpose hall and open market stalls at Oviri-Olomu; multi-purpose hall and renovated staff quarters/‘corpers’ lodge at Aragba-Orogun; and renovated multi-purpose hall and borehole at Igbuku.
Two other beneficiaries of starter packs, 26-year-old Vote Emmanuel and 43-yearold Godspower Omonuwa, said the empowerment has enhanced their economic well-being.
At Anikpekwu Igbodo Market where garri shades were built, assisted by EU, World Bank, SEEFOR and Community Driven Development Social Implementation Unit (CDDSIU), the woman leader, Mrs. Mabel Ogboh, said, “The construction of the shade came as a huge relief to our women as we no longer stay under the sun.
We are making more money, as we have a place to leave our unsold garri, without fear of losing them.
It has also helped in attracting more people from far and near to the market, which has resulted in increased sales for us.”