Tackling flood/erosion menace in communities under HYPPADEC

Owing to the perennial flooding in some states within the HYPPADEC zones, AIDELOJE OJO reports on how some communities in Niger, Kogi, Kwara, Kebbi and Benue states have faired so far.

On April 11 2021, the  entourage of the managing director, National Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission ( N-HYPPADEC), Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Yelwa was ushered into the Palace of the Ohimegye Igu Koton Karfe in Kogi state, His Royal Highness, Abdulrazak Sani Isah Koto. 

Unveiling the mission

A  tumultuous crowd of enthusiastic villagers formed the royal welcome party for the visitors. The MD went on to open a total package on the commission’s project aimed at providing permanent solution to the flood disaster known to have claimed several lives and property annually especially during the rainy season. 

The people responded with fanfare as they moved to the erosion site to flag-off of the construction of erosion control project. Blueprint investigation reveals that the project has been delivered to the delight of the affected communities as well as motorists plying the Lokoja – Abuja road. Experts believe that Koton Karfe erosion disaster, before the intervention of N-HYPPADEC has constituted serious danger to people living in the area including commuters. 

A resident of Koton Karfe,  Ahmadu Sani confirmed to Blueprint that a commercial bus was swept off the Lokoja- Abuja road at a location close to Koton Karfe two years ago as a result of flooding after heavy rain fall. This experience, he argued, underscores the necessity of the project. It was also learnt that effort to avert more disaster along the danger zone prompted N-HYPPADEC to embark on the flood and erosion control project, a gesture that has now been extended to other local government areas of the state.  

According to the managing director, “The commission would intervene in all other places with similar issues to avert reoccurrence”. 

He assured that the project when completed would address the hardship encountered by motorists and commuters plying the road as is pivotal to the country’s economic development.

Available records

Environmental experts believe that Kogi is an erosion-prone meteorological zone characterized by inadequate maintenance of drainage facilities, deforestation, improper agricultural practices and flood waters during the rainy seasons. Available records from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) shows that since 2012, the state has had frequent history of flooding with several degrees of devastation. 

According to the records,  in the years of 2018, 2020 and 2022 across the nine HYPPADEC coverage areas, Adavi, Ajaokuta, Bassa, Ibaji, Idah, Igala-mela, Kotonkarfe, Ofu and Omala were partially or completely ravaged by flood. The Kogi State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has presented casualty figures  of the flood disaster. The agency confirmed that over 514 communities were affected with 471,000 persons displaced, 92 health facilities destroyed and 24 deaths recorded during the 2022 flood disaster. 

State govt’s efforts 

Kogi state government has not been sleeping over the issue. It has embarked on afforestation programme as part of measures to mitigate flooding. The state commissioner for environment, Victor Adewale Omofaiye, who represented Governor Yahaya Bello at flag off, described deforestation as one of the major causes of ecological menace in the state. 

According to him, “N-HYPPADEC intervention is a step in the right direction and would go a long way to cushion the effects of flooding in Koton Karfe and other neighbouring communities in the state.”

He appealed to the commission to intervene in afforestation programmes to support the state in the affected areas. 

Royal appreciation

In the same vein the Ohimegye Igu Koton Karfe, Isah-Koto showered appreciations and royal blessings on N-HYPPADEC for the people-oriented project.

“The project would end the suffering of the masses and go a long way to reducing the effects of flooding and also stop our people from panicking whenever it’s raining.”

States involved

However, the problem of ravaging flood disaster is not limited to Kogi alone. Other states within the periscope of N-HYPPADEC do suffer similar fate over the years. For instance, the people of Patigi communities in Patigi LGA of Kwara state, their kinsmen in Mokwa LGA of Niger state and the people of Nyiman Area on Idye Basin in Makurdi Benue state. Nyiman Area on Idye Basin in Makurdi have been suffering the hardship caused by flood disaster every year. The  situation is even worse and more  pathetic in Kebbi state particularly in Yauri, a metropolitan settlement on the bank of River Niger. Analysts argued that although Yauri’s geographical location provides opportunities to it’s inhabitants on trade, commerce, agriculture and communication, the same has however posed serious ecological challenges to the community. They are convinced that persistent flooding and other forms of environmental degradation are making life unbearable for the inhabitants of Yauri and its environs. It was learnt that situation has since been exercibated by the construction of Kainji Dam which has over 70% of its reservoir in Yauri Emirate. This, according to environmental experts has exposed the community to decades of annual flooding disaster which has claimed hundreds of lives and property worth millions of Naira. 

Checks revealed that N-HYPPADEC has been responding to the Save Our Soul (SOS) calls from the flood ravaged communities according to their peculiar situations.  

Speaking, the MD of N-HYPPADEC, Alhaji Yelwa explained that as part of efforts to curb flooding in the riverine communities, the commission constructed a 570-metre drainage which has effectively controlled the erosion ravaging  the general hospital communities and its environ in Patigi.

 “Tackling ecological problems, especially prevention and control of flood and other environmental hazards, is a special area of concern to the commission.”

 He described the erosion control projects in Patigi as strategic, adding that lack of drainages and dykes has presented multiple negative effects on the environment and the people.

“The Patigi erosion has deteriorated major roads in the community and other critical infrastructures like the Patigi General Hospital. Addressing environmental hazards is fundamental to N-HYPPADEC-focused community and tackling the Patigi erosion menace is critical to end the suffering of the inhabitants of the residential areas around the general hospital.” 

Speaking on the viability of the project, the Etsu Patigi, Alh Ibrahim Bologi II applauded the commission and its management for the prompt intervention in salvaging the hospital community and environs. The monarch said the commission’s intervention has helped to reduce the suffering of the people.

“I want to appreciate the commission for its quick response and intervention to the plights of our communities. We’re convinced that N-HYPPADEC is a blessing to the affected communities and we  appreciate.”  

Kwara gov in appreciation

Also  Governor, Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State appreciated and commended N-HYPPADEC for keying into his administration’s efforts in reclaiming the environment from imminent land degradation. 

In a commendation letter, the governor however sought further interventions in tree planting campaign for afforestation. He enumerated some of the administration’s efforts at curbing occurence of natural disasters in the state.  

“Within the years 2020 and 2023, the government of Kwara state has intervened in different environmental management activities ranging from advocacies and sensitizations across the state both on radio and television stations, dredging and building of embankments aimed at addressing flood-related issues in some parts of the state. However, the intervention of the HYPPADEC is massive and we recognised these efforts.” 

Other benefitting states

In Benue state, Nyiman Area on Idye Basin in Makurdi is benefitting from a 1.2 kilometres concrete drainage with about five number of three cells boxed culverts to contain  perennial flooding which is said to have resulted in several deaths in the past. It was gathered that the project was delivered before rain set in. According to residents of the area  the immediate past rainy season was the first to have come and gone without forcing people out of their houses Blueprint learnt that the commission’s management and a team of its engineers recently inspected another ongoing project in Kwara state where the construction of  about 600 metres of concrete drainage is ongoing to reclaim the devastated area and prevent further degradation. 

The project according to the team of engineers has reached appreciable level of completion. The engineers at the end of the project tour expressed satisfaction with the quality of work executed on site.  

Perhaps, life is more difficult for the people of Muregi and Ketso communities in Mokwa local government area of Niger state who have consistently witnessed devastation from the overflows of River Kaduna and Niger. These communities are usually submerged for months and residents forced to fled to IDP camps whenever the rivers overflows their banks.

It was gathered that programme by the state government to resettle the communities out of disaster prone locations failed in the past. However, there appeared to be a renewed hope going by the intervention from the N-HYPPADEC in the resettlement project where it was learnt that the commission has commenced the construction of about 200 housing units of two bedroom flat as first phase of the relocation of the affected Communities. 

The commission, according to inside source, will allocate the houses to most vulnerable households when completed. 

Despite the impressive outing of N-HYPPADEC in the execution of projects, their are still few critics who are yet to come to terms with the activities of the commission. 

The commission’s head of press and public affairs unit, Nura Tanko Wakili dismissed such issues as mere speculations based on disjointed view of few individual apparently due to lack of accurate information about the activities of the commission.  

“The commission has performed excellently in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities and mandates. Let me assure you that the management under Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Yelwa is focused to deliver more projects in order to alleviate the sufferings and hardship occasioned by flood disaster in our member state,” he assured.