Voice to the People in Imo state is reaching beyond the target communities of the programme to facilitate widespread improvement in service provision across the state, as partners are inspiring other hard-to-reach and underdeveloped communities to take action. Through a local government level dialogue session with traditional and religious leaders in Ngor-Okpala LGA of Imo state, Alulu community gained knowledge of the role of citizens in governance, and by virtue of this have begun to play those roles as active citizens.
Using an example of the work in neighbouring communities in the LGA – Eziama and Amala – as inspiration, V2P partner, Women Aid Collective (WACOL), showed Alulu leaders how communities can collectively identify and prioritize their key development needs, and through power mapping, identify key stakeholders they can engage to successfully address those needs.
One of the oldest communities in Ngor-Okpala LGA, Aluru’s economy is sustained through farming, the main occupation of its residents. It is therefore no surprise that the community has remained impoverished as the lack of access road to the community is a hindrance to the sale of farm produce, thereby limiting economic empowerment. This according to the communities has also lead to the limitation in economic activities, such as petty trading and vocational work that take place within the community.
Other development and public service delivery issues in the community are such as are typical of hard-to-reach communities. This includes the lack of educational infrastructure and personnel that has left most children out-of-school. These key issues which are the responsibility of the government have been left unattended to for years, with communities not doing anything to engage their government about them.
However, the President-General of the Town Union, Mr Anunobi attests that this attitude has changed, as the leaders of Alulu community as a result of the dialogue meeting held with WACOL decided to take on the role of active citizens. They mobilised members of the community and worked to demand for better provision of services. He said:
‘After listening to the V2P team on the activities they had done with other communities [in the LGA], we decided to follow their advice and try it in our community. We identified and prioritized the construction of our community’s access road as our key development need and developed our own charter of demand. Then we did a power mapping to identify who we are going to meet to solve our problem’.
‘We identified the key influencer who will be able to help us, in the person of a House of Representatives member. In order to get to him, we also identified another locally based key influencer, who is the LGA party chairman who had influence on the representative. We sat with the chairman and strategized on how to reach the representative, so a decision was taken for us to sponsor the chairman to travel to Abuja, where he met with other town union members based in Abuja, who then accompanied him to see the Rep’.
‘Following this meeting, we were informed that the construction of our community road has already been added to the budget, and approved, and that the contract was also awarded to a Port Harcourt based company. The details of the contractors were given to us for follow up, and we have also met with the contractors,’ he concluded.
While the Alulu community road has not been constructed, the community members are happy with the progress they have made on their own and are confident that with this approach they have learnt, they will be able to address most of their key development needs.