Nnewi is a rural/semi urban community in Anambra State, one of the southeastern states of Nigeria. It is located east of river Niger and about 22km southeast of Onitsha (see map).
It lies on longitude 6.92 degrees East and latitude 6.03 degrees North. This places it right in the middle heartland of the Igbo tribe (one of the three main tribes of Nigeria).
It has a land area of about 64 square kilometres and an estimated population of 180,000 at the end of year 2002.
Though the native language is Igbo, the official language is English. The vast majority of Nnewi people are devoted Christians. The erstwhile Biafran leader Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu hails from Nnewi and hence she had to carry a severe burden during the civil conflict (from 1967 to 1970).
There are no available specific data on Nnewi hence the use of Nigerian data sourced from the CIA World Factbook publications and nationmaster.com. (see Nnewi Fact file).
We do however believe that Nnewi data would be far worse than the Nigerian average given the pervading level of deprivation, neglect and poverty within its boundaries.
It is undoubtedly among the most disadvantaged parts of Nigeria with worsening prospects and outlook. The Nnewi / UK factfile comparism is very revealing.
Albeit Nnewi town is deprived of basic social and physical infrastructure, its people are peace loving, welcoming and hardworking. They are very stoical and would fashion various ingenious ways of circumventing their deprivation and hardship. Though for a large number of its people, life is a matter of day-to-day survival, they still remarkably manage to exude confidence and happiness.
Soil degradation and erosion are very huge problems threatening many lives and livelihood as a result of significant loss of arable land. Recent rapid population growth and indiscriminate locating of small scale industries have contributed in no small measures to deforestation and worsening water, air and soil pollution. Lack of adequate physical planning that should take into consideration existing flood plains is a major contributory factor to the current situation. Recently a nigerian newspaper reports as below :-
( NNEWI A DISASTER AREA )
Erosion sacks 25 families:-----
At least 10 communities in Nnewi North local government area of Anambra State are facing severe erosion threat. Already, over 25 families, mainly from Nnewichi village have been displaced by erosion and several other homes are under severe threat of being washed away. The erosion gully measuring well over 72 feet deep and covers over 5 kilometres distance has also cut off the Nnewi community from their neighbours like Nnobi. The old Nnewi-Nnobi road has been taken over by the erosion.
According to the communities which had in the past made several communal effort to fight the erosion, the level of the menace is now very much above their capacity. They estimate that no less than N10 billion would be required to fight the erosion at its level.
This is either largely basic or non-existent. A large part of this community is yet to be electrified including many schools and hospitals and for the electrified parts, protracted power outage is the norm. As a result of this erratic power supply private generator is paramount for those who can afford it. The overall effect unfortunately is economic strangulation.
There is a distinct lack of decent road network. The existing roads are mostly communally built feeder roads and, due to perennial neglect and unchecked effect of erosion, are impassable in most part. The few existing tarred roads are in a terrible state due to poor maintenance.
Nnewi has no pipe borne water supply making water shortage perennially very acute. Water sourced from commercially owned boreholes is bought at a premium from water tankers. Collection of rainwater and fetching from streams is the affordable option for the poorest in the community.
Telephone is virtually unaffordable for most people. The few existing lines are very old, poorly maintained and unreliable. The recently introduced global system of mobile telecommunication is scandalously so expensive to own and run that only but a few privileged ones can afford it and even for those, the services provided by the networks are very poor and epileptic.
Motherless Babies Home
Nnewi has one motherless babies’ home. This was donated by the Red Cross and serves as a home for motherless babies from Nnewi and far beyond. It is a home at any given time for more than eight unfortunate children up to four years of age. A recent visit revealed a desperately under-funded and poorly maintained institution. Basic house hold items like mattresses, beddings, blankets, towels and toiletries were lacking and the food store completely empty. They are currently appealing for assistance in these areas and have for sometime now been dependent on private donations for survival.
There are no public recreational facilities for the people. Public parks and playground are not in existence leaving the youths poorly engaged out of school hours.
Overall quality of healthcare is extremely poor. There is no centrally or insurance funded healthcare system. People consequently have to pay for what healthcare they require, leaving the vast majority dependent on native doctors, quacks and patent medicine dealers for healthcare. There is one communally built teaching hospital (serving the entire Anambra state with a population of about 3 million) and a number of small privately owned hospitals and maternities.
These are invariably poorly staffed and equipped with the result that, even for the privileged, the quality of care leaves much to be desired. The growing level of poverty coupled with environmental pollution has impacted adversely on the people’s health.
Life expectancy has fallen significantly in recent times as a result of under treatment and poor management of chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, asthma and angina. Additionally, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malnutrition, chloroquine resistant malaria and trauma have contributed to the fall in life expectancy.
Overall level of literacy is still very poor or at 57% with no prospect of improvement. Education even at primary level is not free. Consequently a large number of children are denied this basic need but rather deployed by parents/carers in hawking and manual labour in order to make ends meet.
Parents who can afford it send their children to private nursery, primary and secondary schools leaving the majority in the derelict communally built under funded government schools. These schools have most of their buildings in a state of near collapse or disrepair. Class sizes are very large and the staff lack motivation and are demoralised. In fact, one whole academic year was lost to teachers’ strike due to unpaid wages in 2002.
There are about 43 government primary and 6 government secondary schools. These schools are grossly under funded and in desperate need of aid. Though the pupils are highly disciplined and eager to learn the quality of education they receive is very poor due to poor staffing and equipment level.
This mirrors the Nigerian economy. Inflation runs at double figures (14.2% in 2002). Unemployment is very high at more than 28%. More than 60% of the population is below poverty line and more than 70% live on less than $1 per day. The continuing loss of arable land and youth urban migration has left the community unable to feed itself, as the age long dependable self-subsistence agricultural sector continues to contract.
The gap between the rich and the poor is probably wider than in any part of the world
There is a thriving central market. The people are business oriented and are renowned for their enterprise and entrepreneurial culture with the result that recently there has been a spate of small-scale industries indiscriminately sited in the community, providing some much needed employment. The unfortunate trade-off of this being wanton environmental pollution due to unregulated poor waste disposal.System.String