By Frank Odinukaeze
The Agence Francaise de Development (AFD),says it has committed two billion dollars to support projects in Nigeria in the last 14 years.
The Country Director of AFD, Mr Xavier Muron, disclosed this at the CATCH UP II project final Art Exhibition in Abuja last week.
CATCH UP projects are financed by AFD through Urunwa Art to organize the second and final Art exhibition that captured 30 children from vulnerable communities.
Urunwa Art is owned by Chidimma Urunwa and her team that work on a collective art project centered on bringing out-of-school children back to school, to reintegrate them into the school system.
Also, the project is part of the AFD’s METIS Initiative that aims, through the mobilisation of the arts and the use of emotions, at promoting transformations that will benefit societies.
Muron said that AFD had been supporting around 35 to 40 projects in the last 14 years.
He expressed satisfaction with the CATCH UP projects since it was his first assignment in Nigeria and the first edition that gave him the opportunity to meet with young artists and discuss.
According to him, this is an amazing exhibition which features works that was done by you (children) , and I understand it was intentional to have the event on Children’s Day to celebrate children.
“The AFD opened in Nigeria 14 years ago and today we are recognised partners, financing projects in key sectors like ; Energy, Urban Transportation, Agriculture, Water and Rural Roads.
“We have committed around two billion dollars within this 14 years and we have been supporting around 35 to 40 projects.
“Why we are here, as far as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is concerned, we realised we should invest more in human capital, or human development.
“Which means we need to engage with the civil society , which is people like Urunwa , that wants to add value to their country by doing an inclusive activities to support the most vulnerable in the population.
Muron noted that “children are the most vulnerable, if not they will be used as agent of destruction if they are not engaged in their childhood, so we rely on people like you to engage them.”
“We also rely on government, civil society and to engage people like Urunwa to
make it faster in getting to the most vulnerable ones in the country,” he said.
He added that, at AFD they had decided to collaborate with Urunwa Art in reaching to children which was in line with the agency’s projects.
“That’s basically why we are here because the CATCH UP initiative was financed through an international worldwide programme under AFD called METIS initiative that aims.
through the mobilisation of the arts and the use of emotions, at promoting transformations, that will enable societies, and in particular, the most vulnerable populations, to build their future with pride, dignity and commitment.
Speaking also, Urunwa, the artist and the owner of Urunwa Art , said that the children of the CATCH UP ll programme had done work that depicts both virtue and social vices ranging from Rape, Girl Child Education and Art.
She added also, that in commemoration of the International Women’s Day celebration some of the children worked with recycled materials to create an art work to celebrate that day.
She stressed the importance of arts to the society,and how art can be a voice to the voiceless, to sensitisze the populace of certain topic.
According to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report, some of the beneficiaries from the programme presented speeches that ranges from Art, Girl Child Education and rape which was the high point of the event.
Also, 30 children were beneficiaries of the programme of which 20 are girls.
The workshop is aimed at introducing the children to the art of painting from the basics to the latter.
The children are from age four to 15, even as 15 children will benefits from a school grant for the year 2022 to 2023. The funds raised by the sale of the art works produced by the children will