The Famous ‘Igwu River’ and World Bank Agricultural Project in Igbere

Igwu River is one of the a natural flowing watercourses, flowing towards Atlantic Ocean via Imo River, and whose channels pass across parts of Igbere. Igwu river’s source to Igbere is traced from one of the neighbouring towns Alayi, and flows down to some Igbere community Okafia; from Okafia it flows to Amaiyi and then flows to Ohumola section; and then to another neighbouring town Umuhu and Bende on its way to join Imo River.

The Igwu River is one of the great life wires to these Igbere communities as it is one of the natural resources which provided opportunity for fishing, domestic water use and water sources for agricultural irrigation purposes. As a result of this, the World Bank saw the potentials and established one of the World Bank Agricultural Projects to produce rice especially and to help the Old Bende Division of the defunct Eastern Nigeria.

According to an elder statesman, Engr. Emmanuel Ukandu, the World Bank Project started in 1967 and the Nigeria – Biafra war stopped it. The Nigerian Federal Agricultural Minister who visited the site was Chief J. O. J. Okezie in the early 1970s to restart the project. This historic visit was reported by the defunct ‘Eastern Nigeria Outlook Newspaper at Enugu. Minister Okezie was well received by the Igbere Community led by the Amaiyi Village Head – Chief Ukandu Ikwuka, who decorated Okezie’s head with a traditional hat as a mark of Chieftain honour/award and appreciation.

Igwu River in Igbere. (Photo Source: Nd Uche)

The World Bank projected includes the construction of a dam in 1967 for irrigation purposes. The name of the Agricultural Engineer who was in charge of building the dam was Engineer Abarikwu. One Agric Officer who assisted him was called Mr. Bebs from Rivers State as we know it now. Another Officer was called Mr. Kanu from Umuahia.

The rice fields were overseen by one British man called Mr. Jackson, and a Nigerian from the Abakaliki area called Mr. Nworisa. There were some other junior Agric Officers from Anambra who worked there. One of officers was known by his nickname: Speedman and the other was called Mr. Nkwocha.

Over 100 people from Amaiyi and Okafia were working there during the war in 1967 and thereafter for a while.

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