In 1996, the World Bank described poverty in Nigeria as “widespread and severe.” Low per capita income, high unemployment, low industrial utilization capacity and high birth rates are some of the challenges the country is facing despite its vast resources. Low productivity in agriculture is another cause of the widespread poverty in Nigeria.

The National Fadama Development Project (NFDP) has been incorporated by the government to address the challenge of poverty in Nigeria. The project was started in 1990 and is now in its third phase. It is a $450 million project and is being implemented in 36 states and Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory. Phase I and Phase II of the project helped to raise the incomes of rural farmers by 63 percent.

Fadama is the Hausa name for irrigable, low-lying plains underlain by “shallow” aquifers found along major river systems. The Fadama concept is an old tradition in Hausa, where flooded land is used for growing a variety of crops and small-scale irrigation.

This land is suitable for irrigation, fishing and providing feed and water for livestock.
The objective of The NFDP III is to increase the incomes of the farmers, reduce rural poverty, increase food security and contribute to the development of the Millennium Development Goals. Six minimum components of The NFDP III are:

  1. Local governance and communication
  2. Small-scale community owned infrastructure
  3. Advisory service and input support development
  4. Support to the Agricultural Development Programs
  5. Asset acquisition for individual Fadama Users Groups
  6. Project management, monitoring and evaluation

The NFDP is driven by the community. Local community members oversee the design and implementation of the project. This leads to empowerment, skill and capacity building, and has led to improving livelihoods and income generation. The local communities have created more than 2000 development plans. Construction of wells, storage facilities and other initiatives have developed the farm infrastructure, and the farmers have acquired 8,000 pieces of equipment.

This project has supported large and diverse residence of transient wildlife, including herbivores, carnivores and migratory birds. In the Ondo state, 50,000 households have benefited from the project. Veterinary clinics, roads, small bridges and 174 kilometers of rural roads have been constructed. The NFDP III is expected to reach about 317,000 direct beneficiary households and 1.4 million indirect beneficiary households.

“The Third National Fadama Development Project Additional Financing is a unique opportunity to demonstrate how the World Bank Group can support Nigeria to drive its Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA),” said Adetunji Oredipe, task team leader for the project. “It is therefore not surprising to see the high level of commitment and political support availed the project by the federal government.”

Through these joint efforts by the NFDP III and the Nigerian government, it is hopeful that the country’s poverty-related issues will improve.

Aishwarya Bansal

Photo: Flickr