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Tackling Soil Erosion and Improving Lives in South-Eastern Nigeria

The Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project is aimed at addressing gully erosion in southeastern Nigeria, as well as land degradation in northern Nigeria.
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Soil erosion due to heavy rainfall in Nigeria

Key Messages

  • Soil erosion is a major environmental threat to the sustainability of agriculture in Nigeria, it also has effects on human life and critical infrastructure.
  • A big challenge this project faces is due to the different geo-political zones having specific environmental issues within Nigeria. Weak local participation and absence of land use planning also play a big part in the difficulties.
  • Watershed management and planning is complex and it is important to adopt an integrated approach that also addresses livelihoods.


This case study is from the FRACTAL Adaptation Inspiration Book– this link provides a summary of the book, the other case studies and a downloadable pdf.

The Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) is aimed at addressing gully erosion in southeastern Nigeria, as well as land degradation in northern Nigeria. The project is in line with the growth and resilience goals of Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020.

The Edo State Project Management Unit appointed Aurecon in the engineering design and supervision of erosion-control sites over a three-year period. The aim of this specific project is to develop measures and install structures to mitigate the severe erosion gullies at sites in and around Benin City, in Edo State. This includes 13 sites for engineering design and supervision.

The FRACTAL Adaptation Inspiration Book contains a variety of case studies which are related to this case study, examining adaptation of urban water resources, agriculture and energy. The related articles can be found here:

Climate Risks and Other Stressors

Significant impacts on an already extreme soil-erosion rate in Nigeria include rainfall changes associated with climate change, expected changes in temperature, solar radiation, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

The processes involved in the impact of climate change on soil erosion by water are complex. Soil erosion by water due to heavy rainfalls is a major environmental threat to the sustainability and productive capacity of agriculture in Nigeria. The effects of climate change on soil erosion go beyond rainfall to the more indirect effects on human life and livelihoods and critical infrastructure.

The Edo State Government has undertaken this 13-site, 36-month project in an effort to improve soil erosion, as well as to manage public resources, and to improve the institutional and policy environment of the State.

Adaptation Approach

NEWMAP takes an integrated watershed management approach to erosion, addressing the interlinked challenges of poverty, ecosystem services, climate change, disaster risk management, biodiversity, institutional capacity and governance.

Links to SDGs

The NEWMAP project addresses Goal 11, 13 and 15 by ensuring that the cities and towns in the Edo state are liveable and sustainable, geared towards climate change adaptations, and that natural systems are preserved from the scourge of soil erosion.


Nigeria’s ecological problems are unique in the sense that different geo-political zones are faced with specific environmental challenges. Major challenges that NEWMAP aims to improve include weak local participation, absence of land use planning, and insufficient attention to livelihood issues.

Further to this, a major challenge has been related to the use of land where people have already settled. As a result, compensation has been paid to people directly affected by the ongoing construction works in the initial 21 sites.


Benefits to towns where NEWMAP has implemented infrastructure include:

  • Reduced loss of infrastructure including roads, houses, markets, and other real estate;
  • Reduced loss of agricultural land and productivity from soil loss caused by surface erosion;
  • Enhanced sustainable development efforts;
  • Increased incomes for rural households resulting from improved agriculture and agro forestry from the vegetative regeneration using an integrated watershed approach.

Lessons Learnt

  1. The Atakpa reclaimed site is a completed project of NEWMAP (Source: NEWMAP project)

    (a) Watershed management, including gully restoration and prevention, is complex and must address a myriad of interactions among land, water and people.

  2. (b) Begin watershed planning with a larger scale assessment, but also implement activities at a smaller scale appropriate for integrating communities into a participatory process.

  3. (c) It is important to adopt an integrated approach that addresses livelihoods and watershed management.

  4. (d) With major gullies, it is important to first understand the causal factors, which often arise from poorly designed infrastructure, urban development and inappropriate agricultural practices.

  5. (e) There is a need for a balanced focus on information, institutions, and on-the-ground investments (combining structural, vegetative, and livelihoods).

  1. (f) It is critical to sustain government commitment through a supportive network enabling the legal, policy, and institutional environments to invest at scale.

  2. (g) Successful watershed programs are characterised by openness to testing innovative approaches, while insisting on rigorous and locally appropriate civil engineering designs and monitoring.

Operational lessons:

  1. (h) A robust and well-funded monitoring and evaluation system that addresses input-output, process and impact evaluation is required.

  2. (i) The use of Global Environment Facility (GEF) resources should be fully integrated into International Development Association (IDA) financed operations, avoiding the common use of parallel implementation structures for GEF and IDA in Bank-financed Nigeria operations in the past.

  3. (j) Local development planning should be more harmonised, as the experience of Bank-assisted Community Driven Development projects shows greater impact on poverty alleviation.

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