Category Archives: Integrated water resources management

Water shortage and water wars in SW USA: Lessons for Komadugu-Yobe Basin

Reading the story in the article below of the imminent Austin, Texas water war one could make a projection of similar development in the Komadugu-Yobe Drainage Basin in Northeast Nigeria. This article gives an insight into the kind of conflict that develops when any part of the globe suddenly discovers that it has become a water stressed or deficient area as a result of cyclic drought or climate change.

The drought in the Southwest USA has resulted in, for example, water conflicts in California and Texas. In California, the State has put together some water conservation regulations and there have even been reported cases of water theft. It has also led to a situation in Austin, Texas where urban communities and developers have become somehow creative in the interpretation of existing water laws. What has led to this creativity is the large scale decrease in available surface water which means not enough to pump for use in the cities. The developers and the cities discovered a gap in the Water Law which gives them a chance to go after groundwater. They thus enlisted the services of a drilling company to drain part of the water of the Trinity Aquifer.

What lessons can Nigeria’s NE (Hadejia-Komadugu-Yobe Basin) (HKYB) learn from this?

At the HKYB annual floods have for many years in the past supported the diverse socio-economic activities of the area. “To millions of West Africans the river brings comfort when flowing in abundance, misery in times of drought” (Gerster, G. (1975). This applies to HKYB also. This Basin has experienced droughts – since the first sharp phase in the years 1972-73, there have been consistent shortages of rainfall in the dry areas of tropical Africa, including HKYB. A notable worsening in the drought occurred in 1983-84, and shortages have remained the general rule up to at least the recent past. These have greatly affected the major rivers. Furthermore, with the development and construction of the Tiga and Challawa Gorge Dams in Kano State, an upstream state, flow has also been reduced and occurrence of floods and groundwater recharge of the wetlands has been considerably reduced.

The construction of these dams was undertaken because of the need to meet the increasing water demand resulting from rapid urbanization and high population growth rate. However, it is believed that what accounts for the reduced river flow is not only due to the increased diversion from these dams but also poor dam operation procedures.

The Komadugu-Yobe-Basin (KYB) Trust Fund was established as a partnership between the riparian states and the Federal Government to ensure that flows can reach the downstream users and that the aquifers in the downstream areas are recharged. Some of the steps the Trust Fund plans to take include developing dam operations procedures for the Tiga and Challawa Gorge Dams. This is aimed at maximizing the benefits of the river system for both human and nature, by controlling the unwanted dry season floods.

Finally, the National Water Law is yet to be enacted and whatever loopholes it contains, concerning the management of the waters of the KYB in an integrated manner, need to be investigated and addressed. Furthermore, there seems to be little or no attention paid to the management of groundwater, not the near surface aquifer, in the agreements reached in the Basin. The question that needs to be asked is how much impacts are the FADAMA tube wells, used for irrigation, having on the downstream flow of the river system?

Though the northeast Nigeria water situation has not reached the level of that in the southwest USA, it is necessary to borrow a leaf from what is happening there.

by DEPO ADENLE

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The Southwestern Water Wars
How Drought Is Producing Tensions in Texas
By RICHARD PARKERMARCH 13, 2015
WIMBERLEY, Tex. — “WE don’t want you here,” warned the county commissioner, pointing an accusatory finger at the drilling company executives as 600 local residents rose to their feet. “We want you to leave Hays County.”
Normally, my small town is a placid place nestled in the Texas Hill Country, far from controversy, a peaceful hour’s drive west of Austin. Pop. 2,582, Wimberley was founded as a mill town on a creek. Today it’s part artist colony, part cowboy town known for its natural beauty and its cool, clear springs and rivers that wind through soaring cypress trees.
But these are not normal times. The suburbs of Austin close in every year. Recently, the suburb of Buda and developers enlisted a company from faraway Houston to drain part of the Trinity Aquifer, the source of the Hill Country’s water. An old-fashioned, Western-style water war has erupted.
Across Texas and the Southwest, the scene is repeated in the face of a triple threat: booming population, looming drought and the worsening effects of climate change.
And it is a story that has played out before. It was in the Southwest that complex human cultures in the United States first arose. Around A.D. 800, the people called the “Ancient Ones” — the Mimbres, Mogollon, Chaco and other Native American cultures — flourished in what was then a green, if not lush, region. They channeled water into fields and built cities on the mesas and into the cliffs, fashioning societies, rituals and art.
Then around 1200 they all disappeared. Or so the legend goes. In reality, these cultures were slowly and painfully extinguished. The rivers dried. The fields died. The cities were unsustainable as drought stretched from years to decades, becoming what scientists today call a megadrought. Parts of these cultures were absorbed by the Pueblo and Navajo people; parts were simply stamped out.
By the time the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, so had, finally, the rain. The American, German and Polish settlers who came to Texas in the 19th century found a rich landscape, flush with water. “I must say as to what I have seen of Texas,” wrote Davy Crockett, “it is the garden spot of the world.” And so it remained, punctuated by only two long droughts.
One, at the dawn of the 20th century, wreaked ecological havoc on the overgrazed Hill Country. The second stretched from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and is still known as the drought of record. When it released its grip, a new era of feverish dam and canal building ensued in Texas, just as it already had in much of the Southwest. A dearth of rainfall, after all, is a fact in the cycle of life here. Rains come when the equatorial current of El Niño appears, and they stay stubbornly away when its twin, La Niña, reverses the course. Those grand dams and canals seemed likely to suffice.
But again, these are not normal times. Arizonans are in their 10th year of drought, despite an uptick in rainfall during last year’s monsoon season because of a single storm on a single day. And while it has been a cool, damp winter here, the clear waters of the Blanco River still look low. Officially, more than half of Texas’ 269,000 square miles are plagued by drought. Conservatively, this would make for the fifth consecutive year of drought in Texas. Meanwhile, today, the average American uses 100 gallons of water a day.
So the race to engineer a new solution is underway, and Wimberley finds itself squarely in the path. The drilling here would rely on a few landowners, whose land is beyond any water conservation district. Exploiting this gap in the patchwork of Texas water laws, the Houston company would pump five million gallons a day out of the Trinity Aquifer to the Austin suburbs of Buda and Kyle.

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Nigeria National water master plan captures development up to 2030

The Deputy Manager of the Master Plan Project seems to be assuming two important data – Nigeria’s population growth rate and water demand. While his sweeping statement about these two, sounds pleasing to the ear, one may ask if the Ministry of Water Resources has any fairly reliable information about Nigeria’s population growth rate and water demand.

Our population figures have always been flawed. When the Chairman, National Population Commission, Chief Festus Odimegwu felt uncomfortable about the reliability of the census figures, he resigned his appointment in 2013. Oduimegu was quoted in the Punch Newspaper of October 2013 as saying “During the 2006 census, workers locked out the commissioners over the creation of new areas. When the NPC did its own census in 2006 and said Lagos State was 9 million, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was the governor then came out and declared that the population of Lagos was 17 million.

“Nigeria has run on falsehood for too long. We must stop this falsehood and put a stop to all of these. The Boko Haram problem is partly as a result of that. Because the 2006 census wasn’t correct, the former board of the NPC was unable to publish the figures.

“If they try it, there will be an uproar. We must make Nigeria work. We can’t do that unless we know the statistics. We can’t build infrastructure without demographic data. As long as the figures in Nigeria are wrong, corruption will continue to thrive. We must have an organised data before we can plan for Nigeria.”

With respect to having to consult the master plan for how much water is available, one will like to ask if the nation has any clear idea about how much groundwater is available in each hydrologic area. It is true that we have a fairly good idea about our surface water hydrology but a lot needs to be done about groundwater hydrology.

Finally, it is really a shame that we have to wait until JICA is ready to help us before we can build on what it did in 1995. Are we really an independent country?

Comments by DEPO ADENLE

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National water master plan captures development up to 2030

Published on Wednesday, 08 January 2014

Written by NAN

The National Water Resources Mater Plan review now at its final stage, captures water development plan and population growth up to  the year 2030.

Mr Kenneth Sumonu, an Assistant Director in the Department of Allocation and Authorisation, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, said this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.

Sumonu, the Deputy Manager of the master plan project, said that every area in the country was captured in the master plan of its development agenda.

He added that the master plan would serve as a guide to the country’s development from 2013 to 2030, considering the nation’s population growth and water demand. While this sweeping statement sounds pleasing to the ear, one may ask if the Ministry of Water Resources have any idea about Nigeria’s population growth rate and water demand.

He noted that the country’s water resources were not properly harnessed, thereby necessitating implementation of the master plan for adequate utilisation of these resources.

“The final stage is so important because now, we can say we have a national water master plan that every sector can key into for their development agenda.

“It is very important that the master plan is a guide to ensuring sustainable development within our present demand and it’s from 2013 to 2030.

“Any development that has to do with water, you have to consult the master plan for availability of water. With respect to having to consult the master plan for how much water is available, one will like to ask if the nation has any clear idea about how much groundwater is available in each hydrologic area. It is true that we have a fairly good idea about our surface water hydrology but a lot needs to be done about groundwater hydrology.

“We have abundant water supply resources; we have huge potential even up to 2030; but they are not properly harnessed because water is not evenly distributed.’’

He said the weather data, meteorological data, hydrological data and population growth were the major areas captured in the plan.

Sumonu said the final copy of the document would be presented to the Ministry of Water Resources for full implementation on Jan. 20, 2014.

According to him, the master plan also made reference to Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020, National Water Road Map, MDGs and the Africa Water Vision in developing the plan.

He explained that the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the organisation in charge of the review, developed the first master plan in 1995.

He said that the Federal Government subsequently requested the organisation to update the document for effective management of the country’s water resources.

The assistant director commended the organisation for the job, stating that the master plan was part of the support from the Japanese Government to Nigeria. (NAN)

International Year of Water Cooperation: World Water Day 2013

Water cooperation underpins the core of Integrated water Resources Management  principles – downstream-upstream user cooperation, cooperation between multi-sector actors in water, cooperation between water suppliers and water users, cooperation with government with respect to pollution control, etc. Even in the use of the waters of small streams or rivulets all micro riparians need to cooperate in order to avoid conflict.

The Komadugu-Yobe Basin exemplifies what is possible if all riparians in a basin cooperate. The flooding in the downstream part of R. Benue, downstream of Lagdo Dam, last year shows what happens when there are no meaningful cooperation in the management and utilization of the waters of an international drainage basin.

DEPO ADENLE

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On 27 August 2012  at Stockholm A three-hour seminar to officially launch the UN International Year of Water Cooperation and World Water Day 2013 took place. It was indicated that all were warmly invited to attend! Furthermore, it was noted that The Netherlands will host the global event for World Water Day in 2013.

In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared the year 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation following a proposal submitted by a group of countries, initiated by Tajikistan. Members of UN-Water agreed that World Water Day on 22 March 2013 should also be dedicated to the same theme. In August 2011, UN-WATER officially appointed UNESCO to lead preparations for both the International Year of Water Cooperation and World Water Day in 2013, in cooperation with UNECE and with the support of UNDESA, UNW-DPC and UNW-DPAC.

Water cooperation is multi-dimensional in nature and encapsulates cultural, educational and scientific factors, as well as religious, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic dimensions. A multidisciplinary approach is essential in order to grasp an understanding of the many facets implied by the concept and blend them into one holistic vision. Moreover, for water cooperation to be successful and sustainable, it requires a common understanding of the needs and challenges surrounding the issue of water. As a result, 2013 being the International Year and World Water Day (22 March 2013) will focus predominantly on attempting to build a consensus around the adequate responses to such issues.

World Water Day 2013 and the International Year of Water Cooperation are great opportunities for the different organizations active in the water sector to promote actions at all levels on subjects related to water cooperation. It calls for a major effort to disseminate the key messages resulting from this global exercise and to involve stakeholders coming from different backgrounds and contexts.

East Africa; Enough in the Nile to Share, Little to Waste: Lessons for Nigeria

East Africa; Enough in the Nile to Share, Little to Waste: Lessons for Nigeria

IRIN, November 16, 2012

Addis Ababa — As Ethiopia’s massive dam-building plans continue to cause disquiet in downstream Egypt, new research suggests there is sufficient water in the Nile for all 10 countries it flows through, and that poverty there could be significantly eased as long as access by small-scale farmers is boosted.

“We would argue that physically there is enough water in the Nile for all the riparian countries,” said Simon Langan, head of the East Africa and Nile Basin office of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), at the Addis Ababa launch of The Nile River Basin: Water, Agriculture, Governance and Livelihoods published by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food.

“What we really need to do is make sure that there is access to this water… Poverty rates are about 17 percent in Egypt but for five of the upstream riparian countries it is more like 50 percent. So, this access to water is very important,” he added.

According to a media advisory promoting the book, the Nile “has enough water to supply dams and irrigate parched agriculture in all 10 countries – but policymakers risk turning the poor into water ‘have-nots’ if they don’t enact inclusive water management policies.”

While better seeds and tools play a key role in boosting agricultural productivity, access to water is even more important, said one of the book’s editors, Seleshi Bekele, senior water resources and climate specialist at the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

“The higher water access you have the less the poverty profile… This is not only in comparison between Egypt and upstream countries: within Ethiopia itself, 22 percent less poor were observed in those communities who have access to water,” he said.

Access “means that girls can go to school, instead of fetching water from distance that could take hours,” he added.

Smallholder farmers, who rely on rainwater to irrigate their crops, could similarly benefit from policies that give them greater access to water in the Nile basin.

The book calls for investment to adopt agricultural water management (AWM) policies, which include irrigation and rainwater collection, so that water-scarce parts of the region are able to grow enough food.

COMMENTS

One can equally and confidently say that there is enough to share in the international rivers that drain Nigeria.

Nigeria is blessed with abundant water resources but experiences water scarcity because of poor management. Though no detailed assessment and quantification of Nigeria’s water resources potential has ever been conducted, it is strongly believed that the country has abundant water resources – surface and ground water. Annual rainfall in the Eighties ranged between greater 500 mm in the northwest to 2,700 mm in the southeast (JICA, 1995). The country is drained by several perennial rivers, some that flow into the Niger and Benue while other river systems such as the Hadeji-Jamaare, Kaduna, Cross River, Ogun, Osun and others are good sources of surface water.

The total annual surface water has been estimated to be between 6,120  and 10,000 cubic meters per second. The damming of two major rivers (Niger and Benue) by upstream riparians should not cause any anxiety for Nigeria. What should cause anxiety is how upstream riparians manage their excess flows. The recent improper management of releases from Lagdo dam is a case in point. (See another blog  by this blogger on the challenges Nigeria faces in the management of its international waters – https://weircentreforafrica.com/?s=The+sleeping+giant+of+Africa- ).  How about the proposed Kandaji Dam? It is believed that if this dam is constructed it will jeopardize Nigeria’s hydroelectric installations at Kainji.

What is lacking in Nigeria is seriousness of purpose concerning its handling of issues that pertain to its international waters and lip service approach to managing its waters in an integrated manner.

DEPO

The Sleeping Giant and its International Waters: The Challenge of theLagdo Dam

The Sleeping Giant and its International Waters: The Challenge of theLagdo Dam

Depo Adenle

The two reports below  and several others in Nigerian newspapers lately as well as electronic media prompted the comments below.

The current series of floods in the North-eastern part of Nigeria is the symptom of a disease – non-integrated management of water resources in the Benue River Basin.

The Benue River Basin is part of the drainage Basin under the management of Niger Basin Authority (NBA), an International Waters body to which Nigeria belongs.

The Articles of the international convention  of the NBA  require member states to give enough notice to any other member state that may be impacted by any planned action just like Article 4 of  the Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission which calls for each contracting party to inform the other in advance of undertaking a project, a programme or plan for the implementation of agreed-upon equitable sharing determinations, or that is likely to have an appreciable impact on any such determination. A flaw of this agreement is that the length of the advance warning is not stated.

The NBA defines its purpose as the promotion of cooperation among member countries to ensure integrated development of resources. The organisation originally defined its mission as the cooperative management of water resources, most notably, but not limited to, the Niger River. While centering of water and hydroelectric resources, the NBA nations use the organisation to harmonise development of energy, agriculture, forestry, transport, communications, and industrial resources of the member nations. The NBA has worked to create an “Integrated Development Plan of the Basin”, especially focusing on cross boundary projects. The NBA itself has been ceded no sovereign power over resources or management, and therefore all regulation must be imposed by individual sovereign governments.(Wikipedia).

It appears there is a disconnect between NBA’s stated mission and the short notice given before the Lagdo Dam water was released. That Cameroon gave just a 24-hour notice before releasing excess water from the Lagdo Dam is morally wrong even if it is covered under any international convention of international waters, and if the NBA has no sovereign power over resources or management. Releases from any dam ought to be done in line with acceptable engineering practice and cooperation with other riparians.

Some questions are pertinent here – Was Nigeria represented on the body that considered the engineering drawings and design of the Lagdo Dam since it affects the flow of one of the major tributaries of the River Niger? What does the Niger Water Charter say on the responsibilities of upstream riparians?

With all the promise that Niger-Hycos have, why was it not possible for Nigeria to foresee the current flooding ahead of its occurrence, especially considering the statement credited to NIGER-HYCOS Project Coordinator, Faramade Oyeniyi, that the project would further enhance water management in the country. “It is a regional project of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA); it will help us to manage our water resources very well and to know the quantity of water to be harnessed at a particular time and for a specific purpose. “With that, we can adequately plan based on the available hydrological information.

This can help us predict flood occurrence as well as monitor water releases from countries upstream of the Niger Basin in West Africa. “It will also help us to know the quantity of water required for irrigation, hydro-power generation and navigation, among others,” (BusinessDay September 13, 2010)

Wikipedia notes that this is not the first time of the occurrence of such a flood, but that the government of Nigeria is yet to find a solution. This is unacceptable and the Government must hold any agency responsible for the management of its International Waters accountable. Savenije, P. et al.(2000) note that the foundation of sharing international rivers is the realization that the management of water resources should be done in a fully integrated fashion.

That Nigeria must ensure that its international waters are managed in a fully integrated manner is underscored by the fact that Nigeria is a downstream riparian on most of its important international waters. Now it is the Lagdo Dam, sooner it will be the Kandanji Dam on the River Niger. A battle for control over the Nile has broken out between Egypt, which regards the world’s longest river as its lifeline, and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, which complain that they are denied a fair share of its water (Vasagar, J. (Guardian (UK), Feb. 13, 2004).  It has even been said that Egypt will consider it a declaration of war if enough flow does not reach the Aswan Dam. Why is Nigeria dragging its feet in finding solution to this problem on the Benue River?

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Lagdo Dam Deluge: Cameroun Gave 24-Hour Notice – NEMA

Chuks Ohuegbe, John Mkom and Pembi Stephen-David

Sat, 15/09/2012 , Leadership Newspapers.

The flood disaster that hit some riverine communities in Adamawa State recently, after the Cameroonian authorities discharged water from the Lagdo Dam, could not be avoided because Nigeria was alerted to the water release only 24 hours before the action was taken.

The director-general, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA),Dr. Ahmed Sani-Sidi, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja during a visit to the corporate headquarters of LEADERSHIP Newspapers.

Cameroon to release excess water from Lagdo Dam

Editor, For the Truth and Justice Blueprint | Sep 10, 2012

Some Nigerian setlements along the banks of Lagdo Dam

Office of the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cameroon in Calabar has expressed intention of the Central African country to release water from the Lagdo Dam “because the dam has overflowed its banks as a result of excess rainfall,”Blueprint has learnt.

In a statement from the office of the Cross River state Commissioner for Information, the High Commissioner said the notification became necessary to forestall untoward circumstances.

“As a safety measure, and to avert imminent danger, the Government of the Republic of Cameroon has signaled its intention to release the excess water from the Dam.

“The essence of this information is therefore to alert Nigerians, particularly the communities that reside in and around the River Benue which is contiguous to the Republic of Cameroon to take proactive measures in order to forestall the envisaged disaster.

“Due to this, chairmen of local government areas, in whose domains such communities are located, particularly Obanliku, Boki, Etung, Akamkpa, Bakassi and Akpabuyo; officials of the State Emergency Management Agency, opinion leaders and other people of goodwill, are by this public information, requested to educate people within the aforementioned communities and advise evacuation where necessary,” the statement said.

He advised those residing around the threatened zones to report any threat to the relevant government agencies.

Indian Farmers, Coca-Cola vie for Scarce Water supply – Is the Same thing happening in Nigeria?

I was reading the in-flight magazine of Delta Air Line (SKY) early this month and found Beyond Bottling in a section titled “Green Watch”.  It contains some statistical information on what the Coca-Cola Company is doing in its Water Stewardship programs in Third World  countries such as promoting conservation and access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The list of the good deeds of Coca-Cola  also includes an investment of $247 million over 5 years in more than 380 water-stewardship programs which range from watershed restoration programs to those that increase access to safe water and improve health and hygiene around the world. It has been working with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for about seven years to launch the Water and Development alliance (WADA) to address community water needs in developing countries, etc.

About the same period when I came across information on the PBS News Hour information on the activities of Coca-Cola in India, I found it difficult to reconcile the two conflicting ideas that both information present.

I find the Draft accompanying Regulations to Nigeria’s Decree 101 of 1993 that proposed pittance in terms of fees for groundwater abstraction for commercial use troubling in this regard because huge corporations seem to get away with using scarce resources without having to pay commensurate fees with respeect to the magnitude of the extracted resource.

The new draft bill on water has not been passed and its content with respect to abstraction fees need to be fully discussed to ensure that appropriate charges are paid by commercial users.

Today, Coca-Cola is, perhaps, the leading producer of bottled water in Nigeria. It would be interesting to know how much of the water used by the company comes from surface water and how much comes from groundwater where this water is being abstracted  and how much it pays for this water compared to how much it makes.

It is a well-known fact that Coca-Cola uses surface water in some of its factories, e.g. Oyo State at Asejire Dam. However, does it use groundwater in the arid north as well as in Lagos? A final question:  Has any assessment on Coca-Cola’s water use in its factories across Nigeria been done?

These are legitimate concerns since Coca-Cola, a multi-billion dollar giant is trying to present the face of a responsible corporate entity that is a do-gooder!

 And, while $247 million is a lot of money, it is not much of community giving-back by a company that must rake in multiples of that in profit from a country like Nigeria, and by the way, how much of that amount does Nigeria get of the hand-out?

DEPO ADENLE

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PBS NEWSHOUR

 REPORT    AIR DATE: Nov. 17, 2008

Indian Farmers, Coca-Cola Vie for Scarce Water Supply

SUMMARY

In the Indian state of Rajasthsan, farmers have accused Coca-Cola factories of drawing too heavily on the area’s water supplies and contributing to pollution. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the controversy and the claims of both the company and its critics.

Transcript

GWEN IFILL: Next, the battle between Coca-Cola and farmers over the shrinking supply of available water in India. NewsHour special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has our report from the state of Rajasthan.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO, NewsHour Correspondent: This is one of 49 factories that make Coca-Cola drinks across India. The company has invested over $1 billion dollars building a market for its products in this country, but Coca-Cola’s welcome has been less than effervescent, particularly around this factory in Kala Dera, in the arid and recently drought-stricken state of Rajasthan.

The plant used about 900,000 liters of water last year, about a third of it for the soft drinks, the rest to clean bottles and machinery. It is drawn from wells at the plant but also from aquifers Coca-Cola shares with neighboring farmers. The water is virtually free to all users.

These farmers say their problems began after the Coca-Cola factory arrived in 1999.

RAMESHWAR PRASAD, Farmer (through translator): Before, the water level was descending by about one foot per year. Now it’s 10 feet every year. We have a 3.5-horsepower motor. We cannot cope. They have a 50-horsepower pump.

RAM SAPAT, Farmer (through translator): Every day, a thousand vehicles come out of that factory taking away our water. What is left for our kids?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: To irrigate their fields of barley, millet and peanuts, these growers complain they must now drill deeper and use heftier pumps to water their fields.

MANGAL CHAND YADAV, Farmer (through translator): I’ve had to drill three times. It’s down to 260 feet. Five years ago, it was 180 feet.

HARI MICHAN YOGI, Farmer (through translator): It’s because everyone has a submersible pump now, the Coca-Cola factory. There’s not enough rain. These are the reasons.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Their cause was picked up by activists, like Rajendra Singh. He has worked across the region helping villagers conserve and collect rainwater through traditional methods.

RAJENDRA SINGH, Water Activist (through translator): Exploitation, pollution, encroachment, Coca-Cola is doing all three. That’s why I say that no company has the right to steal the common water resource. No company has the right to pollute water that is our life. No company has the right to encroach on our land that is our livelihood. Coca-Cola is doing all three.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The farmers also got the attention of international activists, according to Siddharth Varadarajan, an editor with the newspaper The Hindu.

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN, Newspaper Editor: Activist groups have been quite effective and have managed to tap into anti-globalization and environmental and green groups across the world and have, you know, therefore, I think, managed to put Coke on the defensive internationally, to a much greater extent than has happened within India.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In 2005, when the University of Michigan banned Coke products, the company responded, and the ban was then lifted.

Coca-Cola agreed to an independent third-party assessment of some of its operations in India. That report determined that this plant in Rajasthan is contributing to a worsening water situation. It recommended that the company bring water in from outside the area or shut the factory down. Coca-Cola rejected that recommendation.

Already in 2004, Coca-Cola shut down one factory in south India amid a similar controversy. Its response now doesn’t surprise Varadarajan.

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN: Clearly, if Coke were to give in one factory, as other communities essentially look at the experience of Rajasthan, it’s quite likely that there would be a cascading effect. So I suspect Coke will dig its heels in.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For his part, Coca-Cola’s India head, Atul Singh, says it would be irresponsible to leave.

ATUL SINGH, President, Coca-Cola India: You know, walking away is the easiest thing we can do. That’s not going to help that community build sustainability.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So Coca-Cola, while insisting its impact on the water supply was minimal, said it would stay and help.

The company has agreed to subsidize one-third of the cost of water-efficient drip irrigation systems for 15 neighboring farmers. The government pays most of the rest; growers themselves must chip in 10 percent.

Coca-Cola has also set up concrete collection systems for rainwater. Typically about 70 percent of rainfall evaporates before it can seep into the ground. Water collected from rooftops is piped into shafts up to 150 feet deep. Despite drought conditions, the system has been a success, according to company spokesman Kalyan Ranjan.

KALYAN RANJAN, Coca-Cola Spokesman: We have still managed to recharge banks than what we withdraw, so what we see ourselves is we are part of a problem-solving mechanism rather than a problem in ourselves.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Are you saying you’re putting back more water than you’re taking?

KALYAN RANJAN: In Kala Dera, yes. In Kala Dera, yes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The scientist who conducted the independent study of Coca-Cola’s operations is not ready to accept that claim. Dr. Leena Srivastava is with the Delhi-based Energy and Resources Institute.

LEENA SRIVASTAVA, Scientist: We haven’t been able to prove that. And it’s too short a timeframe to start talking about whether groundwater aquifers have been recharged in six months. I think we really have to wait and watch and see what the impact is.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And farmers and activists, like Rajendra Singh, remain skeptical.

RAJENDRA SINGH (through translator): They have an arrogance that says, “We have money; we can buy what we want.”

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They also are critical of the government locally for attracting Coca-Cola to a water-scarce region and nationally for ignoring water policy in a rush to attract industry and foreign investment. Editor Varadarajan says they have a point.

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN: India has a completely irrational groundwater management policy, where, if you have the means and the resources, you can extract as much groundwater as you like and you can use this water which you essentially pump up for free — it’s unmetered — to manufacture products which you can sell for a high price, whether it’s bottled water, whether it’s a beverage, whether it’s industry.

And, you know, this is something which the Indian policymakers have simply not bothered to formulate a cohesive strategy to deal with.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: At stake is the nation’s food supply, says scientist Leena Srivastava.

LEENA SRIVASTAVA: We are heading very rapidly towards the situation of absolute scarcity. Without even adding on the problems that might come up because of climate change issues, we just don’t have enough. And food security in the future can become a major problem for the country.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Food security?

LEENA SRIVASTAVA: Food security, yes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Based on the water scarcity?

LEENA SRIVASTAVA: Based on water scarcity.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In June, India’s prime minister proposed a series of measures to address broader climate change issues, including water. As for Coca-Cola, CEO Singh says, by the end of 2009, the company will become, quote, “water-neutral,” returning at least as much groundwater as it withdraws in India overall, though not necessarily at individual plants like Kala Dera.

He says it’s part of an emerging sense of corporate social responsibility.

ATUL SINGH: You know, I think the world has changed. If you’d asked me this question 10, 15, 20 years ago, I would give you a different answer.

Today, what I have seen — and this is globally, as well as in India — corporates have moved from philanthropy — you know, cutting a check for the art, you know, some art museum or some religious temple or, you know, helping a particular foundation — into real sustainability.

Are we building sustainable communities? And if we are not, consumers will choose products and services from companies who do behave in that manner.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He says Coca-Cola plans to invest several hundred million more dollars in the years ahead in what may soon become its largest market.

How Yobe fights eco challenges as EU, FG end funding of NEAZDP

by Hamza Idris & Hamisu Kabiru Matazu, Damaturu

Daily Trust, Thursday, April 5 2012

It is no longer news that states in the far north eastern part of Nigeria, especially Yobe and Borno, are facing serious ecological challenges as a result of dwindling rainfall, a development which exposes the people, who are mostly farmers to great dangers.

This is manifested in perennial food shortages, occasioned by desert encroachment, sand dunes manifestation among other environmental challenges which have remained a source of concern to affected communities in the Sahel region.

Between 1968 and 1973, many northern states of Nigeria including Borno and Yobe suffered the Great Draught which affected food supply, a development which prompted the formation of many initiatives to surmount the threat.

In 1990, the European Union (EU), the federal government of Nigeria and the then Borno state government established the North East Arid Zone Development Programme (NEAZDP) with headquarters in Garin Alkali, Bade local government area of Yobe state.

The programme was aimed at promoting and assisting the rural populace in the proper use of their natural resources which covers an area of 22,860 sq km.

After recording significant progress in the areas of small irrigation packages, animal fattening programmes, small ruminant breeding, sand dunes fixation, shelterbelt, village protection, conservation of rain water at strategic places for livestock rearing and distribution of seedlings in the affected communities, the EU withdrew its support in 1995 and the federal government followed suit in 2006.

Before they left, the Mid Term Review Report of 1994 had rated NEAZDP activities as the most successful rural development programme in Nigeria while the ESPO Evaluation by the EU in 2006 equally revealed that NEAZDP was the only programme that had structures and sound extension system after the departure of its initiators. Though the EU and the FG had established a solid base for enduring development, their withdrawal had posed a great challenge towards the sustenance of the programme because only skeletal services were being offered. The use of skeletal services for the continuation of NEAZDP after the exit of EU and FGN leaves one to feel that there was no proper exit strategy.

It was indeed a terrible experience because shortly thereafter, the Yobe River’s recession began to hit hard on the riverine communities. This was coupled with typher grass manifestation and poor harvest of food and cash crops as a fall out of low rainfall.

However, in 2009, the Yobe state government reviewed the activities of NEAZDP and intervened, with a view to empowering the people by reclaiming the land that was devastated by ecological factors following the withdrawal of EU and FG.

Since then, the state government, in collaboration with affected local government areas (LGAs) have pumped in over N315 million.

Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, after considering the importance of NEAZDP in rural emancipation equally gave a standing order of continuous release of N9 million monthly to fund the programme.

During a recent visit by Kanem Trust, the programme manager of NEAZDP Dr Hussaini Hassan revealed under the present arrangement, N1 billion is being deducted from each of the nine local government areas of NEAZDP operation area for community impacting projects through partnership arrangement. “NEAZDP,  being  an integrated rural development projects has over the years utilized these fund to complement state government efforts in water supply, health, education, agriculture/food security and rehabilitation of programme headquarters’ infrastructures and procurement of monitoring/supervision vehicles/motorcycles to sustain the programme”. The manager said.

He said the agency has so far constructed 32 hand pumps, rehabilitate 93 hand pumps and 18 cement wells in various communities that have impacted positively in the provision of portable drinking water to over 71,500 people.

“We have also reclaimed lands  for flora and fauna (plants and animals) which have been taken away by deserts,” he said.

NEAZDP he revealed, has in the area of health installed Emex generator and hospital equipment to 18 centres for provision of light to female and theater wards as well as trained traditional birth attendants and village health workers and equipped them with practicing kits all with the aim of reducing infant and maternal mortality rate in the state,

In the education sector Dr Hussaini Hassan revealed that NEAZDP has rehabilitated 72 primary/junior secondary schools, supplied furniture to 27 schools and instructional materials to 27 schools, which according to him have provided good learning environment to over 3,200 pupils.

When Kanem Trust visited  some of the communities under the intervention of NEAZDP,  it was discovered that the agency has supported several vulnerable groups such as lepers, cripples and the blind with food items clothing etc to reduce street begging.

Dr Hassan said in the 2012 fiscal year, about 450 people, including widows and children would be taken care of.

He however said despite the intervention of NEAZDP, a lot needed to be done for the affected communities.

“This year, we have carried out a survey of about 20 villages that are being threatened by ecological challenges.  We have also identified some oasis and assessed the magnitude of the problems that require urgent attention.

“We have done a video documentary of the affected areas and have submitted it to the government for attention,” he said.

Mallam Musa Mohammed, a community leader in Garin Alkali said the intervention of NEAZDP has reduced poverty in the area through what he described as “Trade by Barter” arrangement.

“The agency gave us a package consisting of a cultivator, a ridger and ox-cart and then we were given N80, 000 to purchase two work bulls,” the community leader said.

He said after the harvest of the produce, the farmers paid back the loan in kind by taking 10 bags of millet annually for the period of three years at the cost of N4, 000 per bag.

“We feel this is a convenient poverty alleviation thing and many communities are now benefitting from the gesture,” he said.

So far, some of the LGAs that are benefiting from the project include: Bade (Gashua), Nguru, Karasuwa, Geidam, Machina, Yusufari and Yunusari.

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Comments

 As shown in the above article the Daily Trust reporter laments the exit of the European Union (EU) and Federal government of Nigeria (FGN) from funding the North East Arid Zone Development Programme (NEAZDP). He notes that “Though the EU and the FG had established a solid base for enduring development, their withdrawal had posed a great challenge towards the sustenance of the programme because only skeletal services were being offered.”

 The use of skeletal services for the continuation of NEAZDP after the exit of the EU and FGN makes one feel that there was no proper exit strategy and that the issue of sustainability of the essentials of the programme was not properly dealt with.

  The Daily Trust reporter notes that shortly after the withdrawal of funding by the EU and FGN, Yobe River experienced a period of low flow as a result of the drought in the Sahel Savanna part of Nigeria. This low flow compounded the issue of food security in the Yobe Basin. The food security problem is further exacerbated by the spread of invasive Typha grass  that took over flood rice and cassava fields, blocking river channels, and undermining fisheries.

It should be noted that apart from drought, proper integrated water resources management was not practiced in the Komadugu-Yobe River Basin because there was no proper coordination of releases from the dams in the upstream part of this basin.

Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State should be praised for finding alternative funding for the continuation of the programme.

communities that have impacted positively on the provision of potable drinking water to over 71,500 people.  These add up to 143 water points for about 72,000 people or a water point for about 500 people.

This is laudable as it satisfies what the National Water and Sanitation policy of January 2000 stipulates, i.e. Rural water supply guaranteed minimum level of service 30 liters per capita per day within 250 meters of the community of 150 to 5,000 people, serving about 250-500 persons per water point. …”

DEPO ADENLE