This study provides environmental threshold determinations for the Rural Water Supply, Sanitation, Hygiene and Irrigation project in ten communities of five states – Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, and Rivers – in the Niger Delta region, Nigeria. Field visits were conducted in two focal communities in each State. The study collected environmental information and its potential impact areas. The methodology adopted for impact identification and prediction were checklists and questionnaires. The impacts were classified in terms of level (low, moderate and significant). The likely impacts of the proposed project construction as well as operation have been articulated covering both adverse and beneficial ones. In-depth interviews were conducted with traditional rulers and other key stakeholders (Youth and women leaders). In schools, interviews were conducted with head teachers. These served as key stakeholders where the project Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Irrigation facilities would be constructed. The data collected were analyzed to identify both the negative and positive impacts of the project on the environment. The project activity impacts on the environmental components indicate that the construction phase is relatively more severe than the operational phase impacts. During the construction phase, the worst affected environmental components are air, noise, soil and resource depletion; affecting the respective areas and contaminating natural water sources and making sanitation systems ineffective. The operational phase is characterized by an overall positive impact on public health and safety due to augmentation in water supply, thus improving irrigation and reducing the spread of disease vectors and unsafe water sources. An Environmental Management Plan (EMP) has been developed to address mitigation measures to be taken during construction and operation phases of the project. The EMP proposes a governance framework within the State and local government WASH units to carry out the environmental and social mitigation tasks and coordinate its monitoring and evaluation.
Key words: Environmental threshold, Irrigation, Impact identification, Niger Delta region, Environmental Management Plan
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