On Saturday, June 25th, the Anam Rurban Design Workshop group embarked on a visit to the town of Aboegbu, Anam. The purpose was to learn about the origins of Umuoba-Anam and to increase education and awareness with people in the town about the Anam New City Project. I helped to explain the project to the people in Igbo (the local dialect) and translated for the Chife Foundation staff and interns.
From the research findings, we discovered that people in Aboegbu are not well informed on the progress of the Anam New City project as a result of the communication gap, misinformation spread by some elites in the region, and ignorance of the goals and work being done by the Chife Foundation. This has led to some misunderstandings in the community about the project.
We started by visiting an old man who happens to be the oldest man in the community, Ogbuefi Igbanugo Ifeatu. He is about 98 years, and he showed us photographs of his late mother, Iyom Eeoba, who also lived up to 90 years. He was asked to give the origin of the Aboegbu community, but he could not say precisely when the community started. He learned from his forefather that the community originated in Oda (a town adjacent to current-day Umueze-Anam), and later moved to Aboegbu. Later, additional land was bought at Umuoba-Anam in Otuocha. This land is currently shared by the communities of Umuoba-Anam, Aguleri, and Umueri. Together, these places (except Oda and Aboegbu) are all located in Anambra East.
Chief Ifeatu also expressed his feelings about the ongoing Anam New City project at Ebenebe and said that the people of Aboegbu are fully in support of the project. “How I wish I will witness the completion of the project,” he said in a prayer for successful completion of the project.
We also visited Chief Nwanegbo, the father of the Rev. Father Iyke Nwanegbo. His compound was well fenced, and he has almost completed construction on a water borehole with many tanks. In his one-story building, he has nine people living with him. The house is a four-bedroom unit with toilets and a bathroom and their kitchen outside. He said that a house of that size can cost up to roughly four-million Naira (USD $26,667) and that there is no electricity project in the community. Some people are using a generator plant and that he would appreciate it if “solar power can be brought to the community in order to save them some cost.”
Eventually, he commented that the Anam community would love it if a market can be created to save them the stress of going all the way to Otuocha to buy things. He said, “We like development of all kinds and encourage the Chife Foundation team on their work so far and equally encouraged them to continue to work fast.”
Later in the day, we interviewed some local women on the condition of the hospital and health issues in general. They said the medical doctor visits the hospital only one day each week (Wednesday) with a nurse to assist him. They suggested that the medical services should be extended to reach more people in the community. They also suggested a health awareness campaign or education like counseling, house–to–house services, free medication, etc.
When we arrived at the nearby hospital, we met a junior staff nurse, Cecilia. She said the cost of delivering a baby in the hospital is only around 5,000 Naira including drugs (USD $33) and purchasing an admission card for the hospital costs 200 Naira (USD $1.34). She said that, in the beginning, the hospital was a very standard one. However, the staff stole some of the equipment to be used in other privately-owned hospitals.
Currently, she said that she and another nurse attend to patients when the doctor is not present, and the doctor can be called on emergency if the need arises. She said that one of the challenges they encounter is the lack of patients: they treat about 2-3 patients weekly (which is a poor number, she lamented). She equally said that because there is no electricity, the freezers meant for the storage of the drugs are not working and that the doctor usually brings the drugs from Onitsha, which is over an hour away by boat or road.
Throughout the day, we educated people on the Master Plan and the progress of the brick factory, fish farm, and the entire project. We told them that development is not a one-day thing rather a process and that we are currently in the planning stages. We used the slogan “the city of Rome was not built in a day,” and the people were impressed by this explanation. They expressed their happiness over the project so far and said they had not previously been informed about the work.
During our interactions in the town, the people of Aboegbu listed some of their major needs:
(1) a good market for the people because there is not a functional market in Aboegbu currently;
(2) electricity, as there is no electricity in the community (except private generators);
(3) a school with qualified teachers to help train future leaders; and
(4) extension of medical services in the healthcare system.
Moreover, some houses in the village were measured by the architect interns in order to understand the building patterns, structures, and arrangement by the people. This understanding can help facilitate a low-cost housing system for Anam.
The community eventually expressed their joy and they prayed for successful completion of the project. They said, “God will bless the people involved, especially Dr. Aloy Chife,” and equally encouraged the interns and the staff of the Chife Foundation. They promised to visit the Anam New City project headquarters.
Post by: Linus Ifeyani Nnweke