Officials in Jigawa
in northern Nigeria stated that
the Hadejia-Jama'are River Basin Development Authority opened the Tiga and Challawa dams (below) to prevent overflowing
following heavy rainfall in 2010, affecting close to two million people who were displaced
with close to a quarter of a million acres of farmland being destroyed. Already the area had been badly
affected by flooding after dams burst, with some villages covered in water up to
the roofs of houses there. Up to forty deaths were reported.
Whilst flooding of
the low lying plains are common at that time of year, the devastation caused by
the opening of the dams on this occasion had been significant and, ironically,
fresh clean water supplies were then in serious short supply. Some of the blame
being placed on a failure to remove the silt that has been building up at
the reservoir created by the Challawa dam and in the Challawa river itself.
If this silt had been
removed, it had been argued, the flooding would not have been required. The dam
itself has been subject to controversy, causing flooding both up and down stream
at regular intervals whilst simultaneously drying out wetlands.
A recent evaluation
of the dam project concluded that it had had no beneficial economic effects at
all once the impact on the wetland downstream of the river had been taken into
account. However the agency
that manages the dams stated that the flooding was nothing to do with the dams.
"This year we have had heavy rainfall almost everywhere in the country. This is
actually what caused the flooding." The spokesman went onto state that the heavy
rainfall had simply filled the dams and the excess water had flowed out into the
surrounding area. Whatever the truth, the flooding only added to the woes of
northern Nigeria which had already seen entire villages swept away during the
2012 saw yet more flooding in
the north of the country with thousands being effected especially in flood prone
areas. In Kogi State alone four hundred communities found themselves submerged
by water with the added menace of crocodiles and hippos being caught up in the floods
and entering the homes of those who had tried to stay behind.
The situation was exacerbated
by authorities in Cameroon opening the Lagdo Dam (above) following excessive
rainfall which led to the
flooding of settlements in Adamawa State in north-east Nigeria as the Benue
River, downstream from the dam, broke its banks as it flowed towards the River
Niger. Whilst Cameroon
notified their counterparts in Nigeria of the action to be taken, the area
wasn't evacuated leaving three dead and thousands displaced as the water raged
through homes and villages.