ANKELI EMMANUEL who recently visited the popular Goronyo Dam in Sokoto reports that except something urgent is done to resuscitate the dam, residents of Kebbi and Sokoto may soon face severe water shortage.
No doubt, the popular saying that, “Water is Life” remained germaine, but ironically, rather than bringing life, water has become a major life threatening natural gift for the people of Sokoto and it’s neighboring states in recent times.
Agreed, water poses diverse threat to humanity from time immemorial including flooding, of which Sokoto state has had its fair share of the bitter experience, the state is in for yet another bigger threat. This time, the once turbulent Goronyo dam has become a fascinating sand dome.
The development poses greater threat to the existence of many people in both Sokoto and Kebbi states as Goronyo dam provides drinking water for nearly over 4 million people.
The dam, since its construction some decades ago has boosted the agricultural potentials of the locals.
Giving a brief history of the dam, the immediate past deputy governor of Sokoto State and one time Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Mukhtari Shagari said, the dam (Goronyo) is one of the largest in West Africa and was awarded by General Olusegun Obasanjo when he was the military Head of State. The dam was however constructed during the administration of former President Alhaji Shehu Shagari to boost agriculture in the areas.
The former water Resources Minister added that, it was same General Obasanjo who carried out a total rehabilitation of the dam for irrigation purposes when he became Nigerian president once again at the return to democracy while he supervised the job as the then Minister of Water Resources.
The dam reservoir covers 8,000 hectares and extends some 119km upstream from the dam. The fifteen km-supply canal carries water from the dam and distributes same through several hundreds of Kilometre secondary and tertiary canals.
Ado said the dam not only provided water for agricultural purposes, but also water for domestic use by the adjourning villages.
When LEADERSHIP Weekend visited some of the catchment villages using the Dam for agricultural purposes such as Dantudun Palaliya, Katsira, Kaita, Tarkure, Brijingu, Walankai, Kumainiya, among others, the story line was the same.
Most of the villagers around the dam from Goronyo down to Kebbi state have gratifying testimonies of how that singular initiative from the federal government has changed their lives for good.
For most of the locals, they effectively use water from the dam in their irrigation farming, thereby keeping them agriculturally productive all through the year.
Although, a visit to Goronyo dam now shows tales of bitterness, anguish, disappointment and frustration in the minds of the agriculturally boisterous communities that were once making good use of the dam.
The beehive of activities that usually go on at the bank of the dam according to Ibrahim Kasera have now become a shadow of frustration.
Ibrahim, a fisherman in the Goronyo dam recounted how he has been blessed from the trade, saying he built houses, married and trained his children bought two cars from fishing in Goronyo dam when the water was much.
The pains in their minds was simply because, Goronyo dam has unimaginably depleted to a point that its continuous existence is being threatened.
Seated helplessly inside his boat in the bank of the nearly dried up dam when LEADERSHIP Weekend got closer to the remaining part of the dam, 45 years old fisherman, Kasimu Umar said he is short of words on what will be the fate of the communities should nothing be done urgently to revive the dam.
With contours of pains stretching up the wrinkles on his forehead, Kasimu recounted with nostalgia how their parents have to go as far as to the southern part of the country to do menial job during dry seasons prior to the construction of Goronyo dam.
“We were told that, during the dry seasons, our people have to go for what is called “CINRANE” to as far as to the Southern parts of Nigeria where rainfall is more frequent. They go to work in their farms for months before coming back sometimes around May/June when our weather often gets pregnant to deliver rainfall.
“After the dam was constructed, our parents stopped going for such ventures because they embraced irrigation farming, plus fishing and made more money than what they get in southern part of Nigeria.
“We grew up to take after our parents having learnt how to use the dam to make money but now the dam has dried up. We are left helplessly confused.
“Now, the water is no longer available for irrigation. Most painfully, a good number of them have to watch their crops (Rice, Onions, Potato, Wheat amongst others) wither away at a time when they are counting weeks to harvest because irrigation waters from Goronyo dam dried up.
Coroborating the lamentation of Kasimu, a major farmer, Idi Duawu who admitted that he usually make as much as N500, 000 and above from his dry season harvest, said the situation was beyond human imagination.
He recounted that, their lives and that of their families is under severe threat. “Food security is one basic necessity of man that cannot be jettisoned. Now, we are faced with impending food shortage because of water scarcity.”
In his submission after leading stakeholders to the once famous Goronyo Dam, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said they must work together to tackle the problem of water shortage at the dam.
Expressing worry over the depletion, Tambuwal said the water level in the dam which serves as primary source of water for domestic and irrigation purpose for people in Sokoto and Kebbi states has shrunk by almost 90 percent.
Tambuwal said, “The depletion of the dam’s water level was alarming. The reservoir of Goronyo Dam was constructed to hold one billion cubic meters of water but as we have seen today, the water in it is just about 100 million cubic meters.
“This has resulted in inadequate supply of water to our Water Board and in effect, we have to resorted to rationing water to the people.
“Our farmers are also suffering because output from this year’s dry season farming will invariably be affected.”
In his appeal for speedy measures towards resuscitating Goronyo Dam, Tambuwal said, “We are urging all stakeholders, especially the Federal Government, to take the lead in rescuing this important dam considering the number of people that rely on its water for domestic and income purposes,”
On his part, after conducting the governor round the dam site, Managing Director of Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority, Engineer Buhari Bature, said the depletion was the worst seen in the dam in over 25 years.
He attributed the problem to shortage of rainfall in 2017 and climate change.
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