REACH Project: SCI urge Gombe stakeholders on ownership, continuity
Mercy Gichuhi, the Country Director, Save the Children International (SCI), Nigeria has urged the Gombe State Government, community, religious and traditional leaders to take ownership of SCI’s Reaching and Empowering Adolescents to make informed Choices for their Health (REACH) project in the state.
Our correspondent reports that the three-year project, being implemented in Dukku and Balanga Councils and which was extended by six months given the impact of COVID-19 is expected to end by August 2021.
The project is funded by the Canadian Government through Global Affairs Canada and implemented by Save the Children International (SCI) through Kishimi Shelter and Care Foundation.
Making the appeal in Abuja on Tuesday during a two-day workshop to review the sustainability plan of SCI’s REACH Project in Gombe state, Gichuhi said ownership of the project would help build on the success stories so far recorded.
She noted that all stakeholders needed to strengthen commitments towards sustaining the project.
Represented by Nwamaka Ifionu, Deputy Director, Programme Operations, SCI, Gichuhi said the participants and other grassroots stakeholders piloting the REACH Project in the state were doing great service to the wellbeing of adolescents.
She said the call was made so that as the project ends, “our hope and prayer is that you don’t go back to status quo but instead build on the gains that have already been achieved and that’s why you are all here.”
She added that the essence of the workshop was to bring all key actors in the state together and fine-tune ways towards the continuity of the project.
“We thought it fit for us to bring you together because this is now your project to carry on; it is your legacy to grow and to build on,” she said.
Responding, the Gombe state Commissioner of Health, Dr Habu Dahiru thanked SCI for deeming Gombe fit to benefit from the REACH Project in the interest of the welfare of adolescents.
Dahiru who is also the chairman of the workshop said REACH Project had impacted “very positively on our communities in the two LGAs and that’s why the remaining LGAs are demanding scaling up of the project.”
According to him, with the testimonies from traditional and religious leaders about the positive behavioural changes that REACH Project has impacted on adolescents in Dukku and Balanga Councils, “we cannot say we are not interested.”
He stated that the activities of REACH would be integrated into the line ministries to ensure the sustainability and continuity of the projects.
“Continuity cannot happen without a budget line and we have just discussed how we can integrate REACH activities and produce a budget line for them so that when we want to do them; we will now reach out to the affected ministries and say we have made provision for this quota and this year and we intend to do this activity,” he said.
The Commissioner assured that the state government would continue to give necessary “legislative backings and executive approvals to ensure full continuity of activities of REACH Project.”
Dahiru added that the state would put in place mechanisms to monitor implementation in line with the policy of the present administration in ensuring transparency and results-oriented governance in the state.
On his part, the chairman of the Technical Working Group (TWG) for The EACH Project in Dukku Council, Mr Abubakar Hayatu said the sustainability plan for Dukku had been made, reviewed and submitted to relevant stakeholders to ensure continuity of the project.
Hayatu stated that they had received interest from Aishatu Jibril Dukku, lawmaker representing Dukku and Nafada Federal Constituency to support the project and “we have also incorporated it in our budget for 2021 and last week it was approved by the Gombe State House of Assembly, so we are on course,” he assured.
Also, the TWG chairman from Balanga, Mr Musa Yusuf said with the level of engagements with religious and community stakeholders on REAthe CH project, continuity would be ensured.
Yusuf said “we, are lacking words to thank SCI for the positive impacts made on our adolescents; this is a story that will be told in years and SCI would always be in our minds as parents and community leaders for this great impact.”
Rev. Gaius Isuwa Bangus, a clergyman from Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA 1), Talasse Community in Balanga Local Government Area of Gombe state said the REACH curriculum had already been adopted by his religious body in teaching and counselling young adolescents in churches in his community.
Bangus added that as a teacher and counsellor to youths in his community, the project had impacted him and built his capacity in counselling and relating better with young adolescents and the results is “impressive.”