Benishangul-Gumuz pleased with ‘villagization’ results

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Addis Ababa, 19 April 2014 (WIC) – Benishangul-Gumuz regional state is encouraged by the results gained through the ‘villagization’ program as the scheme approaches its three years life span.
Launched in 2011, the nationwide ‘villagization’ program seeks to relocate, on a voluntary basis, people, living in scattered settlements, to villages with adequate socioeconomic infrastructures and thereby bring about cultural transformation.
The program in Benishangul-Gumuz region in the north western Ethiopia targeted to include some 45 thousand households living in 18 weredas out of the total 20 weredas in the region. The population of Benishangul-Gumuz is projected to be around 940 thousand with a density of 19 people per square kilometer. 
“Despite the challenges, the overall achievement is pleasing,” Ahmed Nasir, chief administrator of Benishangul-Gumuz regional state, told WIC. 
According to data from the region’s Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau, the program has, so far, achieved some 92 percent of its target settling over 39,500 households to 221 villages.
The region expects to settle the remaining households in the remainder of the budget year.
“Bringing the people to certain villages and settling them is not the goal. Rather, ensuring these people benefit from socio-economic provisions and change their lifestyle for the better is the objective. Our efforts will now focus on ensuring just that,” Ahmed said.
He added that the focus now will turn to ensuring adequate supply socioeconomic infrastructures. The ‘villagization’ program includes the provision of schools, health centers, veterinary clinics, clean water, roads and grinding mills.
The settlers are given a plot of land for farming and small scale irrigation schemes are also underway. Settlers say, albeit some shortcomings, their lives are changing for the better.
Zehara Mohammed, a mother of two, is one such beneficiary who is now living in Abramo Kebele of Assosa wereda.
“Due to lack of health center, children used to die of diseases. Now we have a health center nearby and our children get medical care and vaccinations,” she said.
However, the program is not free from criticisms. Shortage of clean water provision and inadequate supply of health facilities as well as delay in construction of roads are major challenges.
“These problems are mainly due to capacity issues coupled with the scale of the program. We are determined to address the outstanding problems this budget year,” the regional president said.