21 August, 2011, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – Twelve cluster communities, comprising over 150 towns, villages and hamlets in Rivers State, have said the lives of hundreds of their people have been transformed economically following the GMoU which they signed and funded by Shell Petroleum Development Company since 2006.
Particularly, the communities said scores of their people have benefited numerously through financial interventions in the area of microcredit, scholarships, innovative healthcare, water, education, transport, skill acquisition, jetty and town development.
Also, the CEO of Empowerment Support Initiative and wife of the state governor Mrs. Judith Amaechi said the initiative had brought “a new fresh air to community relations practices in Niger Delta and Nigeria and demonstrated practicable and pragmatic approach to enthroning good corporate social responsibility”.
Outlining the success of the GMoU, weekend, chairmen of the communities’ development boards of Akuku Toru, Andoni, Degema 1 and 3, Etche 1 and 2, Greater PH, Ikwerre, Industrial and Residential Areas, said the people were thrilled by the improvement in their lives.
Also, the County Chair of SPDC said under the terms of the GMoUs, “communities decide and drive their development programmes and SPDC on behalf of its joint venture partners, provides the funding and technical assistance to implement the programmes.
Funding is secured for five years, ensuring that the communities have stable and reliable finance structures to fully implement their community development plans. SPDC also provides access to development experts/NGOs to help deliver projects and build capacity of the development boards.
This system replaces past practices whereby SPDC agreed to fund and directly manage hundreds of separate development projects with individual communities. The transparency and accountability in the GMoU model, provides a good platform for other local and international donor agencies to fund development projects directly.