© Goulden Marisa
In this case study we examine the impacts of climate variability, flooding and both natural and human induced changes in the river channel in two farming communities located on the banks of the Niger River close to Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State in Nigeria. Since similar issues of tensions between farmers and pastoralists were observed as elsewhere in the river basin, the research team also visited a pastoralist settlement close to Lokoja to gain the perspective of the people there.
Lokoja is located at the confluence of the main Niger River and the Benue River in central Nigeria. The communities along the banks of the river cultivate in the flood plain and surrounding land and do some fishing. They are affected by regular floods, which some years cause considerable damage to their crops and houses. Erosion of the river banks is also a significant problem to these communities. Heavy rainfall also causes localised flooding and damage.
The National Inland Waterways Authority have begun dredging the river near Lokoja in order to allow for the increased transportation of goods on the river using barges. This is desired by national government in order to reduce the strain on the road network. The dredging operations pump sand from the river channel on to the banks and are thought to help strengthen the river banks. The erosion of the banks and a perceived shallowing and widening of the river channel is thought to cause increased problems of flooding for the communities along the river. We examine the perceptions of the population of the interaction of the dredging operations with the flooding and erosion impacts that they experience.