Again, farming community in Kano counts losses as River Kura wreaks havoc

By A’isha Ahmad ISMA’IL

FlOODING is a devastating term most farmers in Kano State are familiar with as it has plagued the state for years now, with unprecedented heavy rainfalls and floods wreaking havoc on communities and farmlands.

In 2022, flooding nationwide destroyed N700 billion worth of investment in the agricultural sector, according to the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS).

In Kano, flooding washed away 14,496 farms in five Local Government Areas (LGAs) with everything planted in the soil. The recurrence of the flood has been linked to the spillway of Tiga Dam, according to the then Executive Secretary of Kano State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Aliyu Jiji.

Jiji said that in 2022, spillage of the Tiga dam destroyed another 16,644 farmlands in some local governments, including Kura.

Although farmers tried using flood resistant enhanced crops, it is of no use to those in Kunshama, in Daneji ward of Kura LGA in Kano State.

Farmers say the powerful waves caused each time the Kura River overflows its banks after the opening of the Tiga Dam have been devastating. And it occurs twice a year, whether it is the rainy and dry season.

Malam Bala working on some part of his farm completely washed by flood
Malam Bala working on some part of his farm completely washed by flood

Opened in 1974, the 178 square kilometers (69 sq mi) dam with a maximum capacity of nearly 2,000,000 cubic meters (71,000,000 cu ft) has been a major source of water to irrigation farmers.

Bala Dare Kunshama, farmer
Bala Dare Kunshama, farmer

However, what was created as a blessing, to Kunshama farmers, is a curse.

The people of Kunshama farming community State are beginning to panic as water from the Kura River washes away millions of naira worth of produce from their farmlands.

Kura LGA is believed to be one of the largest farming communities in the state and this includes both irrigation and wet season farming.

Lawan Muhammed Kunsharma, a rice farmer, said he lost over N3.1 million after the Kura River washed away half his rice seedlings weeks ago, adding that he has been enduring such losses for the past five to six years because there has been no help from anywhere.

Gazing over his devastated farm, he said “as you can see this is my farm, if not for the fact that the water has washed over here, you could have seen that I have plowed the land and planted rice”.

Muhammad said he used to harvest between 200-300 bags of rice per farming season. But now, he barely harvests 20 bags.

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“That is for the rice, but before the rice we used to plant onions, beans, and green beans”, he said bitterly.

The reporter could feel the anguish and pain in his voice as he spoke.

“We wish the Abba Kabir Yusuf – led Kano government would urgently help us, ” he cried out.

Hadejia Jamaare
Hadejia Jamaare

Lawan Ishaq Kunshama, another farmer in the area, said the flood is the biggest problem faced by the people in Kunshama.

While acknowledging efforts by the local councilor and council chairman, he lamented that “the matter is beyond them.”

The water passes through Kunshama from Tiga Dam to Wudil.

“You see over there? That is what is left of the structures we tried to erect to prevent the water from running into our farm.”

The farmer pointed to a low slab put at the edges of the river with the intent of keeping the waters away from flowing into the farms.

He said they have been trying for four years, but the slabs collapse every time.

Ishaq added that when the water breaks into the farmlands, they must board canoes to rush and salvage rice seedlings to minimize losses that usually run into millions.

“For some of us that usually harvest about 100 bags of rice, when the water breaks in, we barely get 20 bags,” he lamented.

Ishaq also cried out to the government to come to their aid to prevent losses to the farmers and even the government in the form of revenue. (Farmers from rural areas pay produce tax when they take their produce to the markets.)

Bala Dare Kunshama, is another big irrigation farmer affected by the Kura River overflow. He owns six acres of farmland, most of which has been washed off after overflowing water from Kura River flooded his farm.

Looking mournful and dejected, Dare said he suffered unimaginably heavy losses due to the flood.

He stands at the edge of his farm looking from side to side and then gapes deeply into the water that has become his nightmare, a thousand thoughts coursing through his mind.

“This water broke into my farm, all our capital has finished, the water has killed all our efforts and now we have nothing,” he bit down his frustration while narrating his loss.

Unlike Muhammad, Dare said he tried planting tomatoes and onions this irrigation season, but the water has washed away most of it, which he said is worth more than N2.5 million.

Like Muhammed and Ishaq, he and other farmers in the agrarian community of Kunshama have been suffering losses for about six years now. Every year, the devious cycle repeats itself and the farmers are helpless.

Kunshama said he can no longer feed himself and his family and that most people in the community are in tears, but they do not know what to do.

“This is not something we can deal with by ourselves, we need the state government’s help,” he said.

Village head echoes cry for help

The Village Head of Kushama, Alhaji Garba Aliyu, through a representative, Malam Murtala Shehu, bemoaned the huge flooding challenge faced by the farmers within his domain.

“We need help, my people need help,” he stated.

According to him, his people “are at the brink of losing everything to the water.”

There’s no one else to ask, fully knowing they have done all they could, but the water would not stop.

He and the farmers wished for the Kano State government to prioritize their problem and find a lasting solution soonest.

The farmers are hoping the government could repair the controls of the drain outlet and block the way that serves as a diversion for the water into their farms.

Flooding too challenging for local government – Chairman

The immediate past Kura Local Government Chairman whose tenure ended on Sunday, February 11, 2024, Mustapha Abdullahi Rabi’u, lamented that Dukawa ward has been left to suffer from the floods for years.

“They came to me with the complaint, I was personally there to see the level of destruction it causes,” he said over the phone.

He said the water travels from Tiga, goes through Madobi, spins forward through Gadar Ɗan kifi in Chiromawa, then falls at the bridge separating Kura and Dawakin Kudu before it makes it way to Kunshama.

According to him, he had paid money even from his personal pocket to workers to build a drainage along the waterway to prevent further spillage into farms “but the water is too powerful, especially during the rainy season.”

The area needs two things, he stated.

“First, the drainage systems there need constant clearing, and second the route of the water to Challawa needs to be cleared as well.”

Acknowledging that the very persistent problem is quite challenging, Rabi’u promised to ensure the next local government leadership is made aware of the problem to find lasting solutions to the problem.

80% of Kura/Garun Malam farmers face seasonal losses– Farmers Association

The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Kano, through its Secretary, Abdullahi Ali Mai Biredi, affirmed that the flood has been causing losses to residents of Kura and Garun Malam local governments.

He said about 80% of the farmers in that area are affected by seasonal floods, and occasionally by the overflowing of the Kura River.

He said, “if this continues, it will be a threat to food security.”

“Everyone knows how important that area is in rice farming. If this problem persists , I believe it will not only affect food security in Kano but Nigeria as a whole,” he asserted.

Though he admitted that the challenge was brought to their attention late, he noted the need for urgent intervention by the government in addressing the matter in the interest of the nation.

Expert blames poor repair of drainage outlet for the flood

Professor Abba Garba Gaya, a lecturer at the Faculty of Agriculture Aliko Dangote University of Science and Technical, Wudil, is an expert that knows about the flooding caused by the Kura River.

He told this reporter that the flooding is caused by a fault in a drain outlet used to control the flow of the water after its release from Tiga dam, close to Kunshama.

“It (drain outlet) developed a fault, so the water is retained in the area making it look like a swamp, and it subsequently overflows into farms,” he said.

He noted that the water that flows from Tiga usually prevents farming activities, especially during the rainy season.

He noted that “farmers are important to the society” adding that “the government has to do something about this problem that has been in existence for about 5 to 6 years.”

He said they are aware of the efforts by the Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Development Authority made about a year ago, but it has proven not to be enough.

He believes the work done was shoddy and not properly implemented.

Professor Gaya called on the Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Development Authority, Kano State and the federal governments to look into ways of dealing with the problem before it worsens.

Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Development Authority blames residents for the floods

The Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Development Authority says it is aware of the problem.

When contacted, the authority’s spokesman, Salisu Baba Hamzat, said the area is the last part of their irrigation scheme.

“Our scheme went as far as Ɗanga, that is where it was terminated. But the people living around the area tampered with the scheme because it is at the tail end and water does not reach there before a recent repair we had.”

Hamzat added that the people took advantage of the work being done to vandalize it for personal gains, by removing the cements at the sides of the canals and slabs to use in their homes.

He accused the residents of using the large slabs for personal use, including bathing on them in their bathrooms.

“They caused this problem,” he concluded.

He said the vandalization of the canals made them almost disappear, thus aiding the water to overflow since it can no longer be contained.

The destroyed canals, he said, were created to take unused water by farms in its irrigation scheme back to the main river, and back to Tamburawa River to Ringim, Hadejia and Lake Chad.

He then advised residents of Kunshama to officially write to HJRBA and request the audience to discuss ways to permanently solve the problem.

Kano government reacts

The Director Public Enlightenment, Kano State Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Isma’il Garba Gwammaja, said the ministry is not aware of the problem.

“I advise that they should write officially to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, as soon as they do that, our assessment team would be there to assess the cause of the water.”

He said the assessment team would also check if the area was a water passage route or if something else went wrong, including if the water ways was blocked.



    Gwammaja added that aside from being called by this reporter, his ministry is not aware of the problem. But he said action would be taken swiftly as soon as the community officially notifies the ministry.

    “Our assessment team would give the relevant advice, and then decide how best to handle the situation,” he assured.

    “This investigation is supported by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, under its Promoting Democratic Governance in Nigeria Project.”

    This report was done with the support of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, under its Promoting Democratic Governance in Nigeria Project.

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