Rice farm destroyed by the flood
Hammed Shittu visited some communities affected by the recent flood in Kwara State and writes about the pains of the people of Patigi and Edu local government councils, the two local government councils worst hit by the flood
The development has set the people into a state of despair in view of the damage and losses that the incident has caused them in the area.
The flood according to THISDAY checks happened following the overflow of the River Niger banks that spread across towns and villages in the two local government councils of Patigi and Edu.
For the Patigi local government council alone, about 70 communities were affected which led to the displacement of over 4,000 people in the area.
Apart from this, about 16 communities were completely submerged by ravaging flood while about one million hectares of farmland of rice and large number of hectares of maize worth more than N300 million were destroyed in some of the affected communities.
Among the communities affected in Patigi local government council are Kpata-Gbaradogi, Gunji-Saaci, Gbafun, Gakpan, Vuma, Esungi and Mawogi.
In Edu local government council too, about 4,700 people of the council were also displaced by the flood while no fewer than 10 communities were affected by the flood.
Most of the affected communities in Edu local government council include Bele, Emi, Faigi, Tswatako, Patako, Tada, Shonga, Edogi Dukun, and Yemagi communities.
Although, some of the victims of the flood were resettled on a piece of land given to them by Etsu of Patigi, they have horrible tale to tell.
While speaking with our correspondent on their ordeal, the victims said that the government should come to their aid in order to return back to life.
Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim, who is now displaced with members of his family, said the flood has destroyed his abode, his belongings, farms, animals, boats and fishing nets.
He said, “All I have with me now are soaked mattress, earthen pots and cooking pots”
Also, community leaders of Gunji-Saaci and Gbafun communities who are now at the Patigi resettlement camp, said it is the seventh time they are relocating from one location to another due to flood problem.
The community heads said that flood usually destroyed their cash crops, food items and property anytime there is flood occurrence, the situation they said had made it difficult for them to garner enough financial muscle to erect comfortable and permanent structures to live in.
The people, who spoke in their local dialect, said all they needed is a permanent relocation to a good place suitable enough to live.
One of the affected victims is the Kwara State Commissioner for Solid Minerals and Industries, Alhaji Aliyu Umar, who said the affected people are helpless.
According to him, the flood has brought untold hardship to the farmers and their crops. “Because of the construction of dam upstream, those of us at the downstream are at the mercy of the flood. Before the dam, we at the downstream know when the flood will come and how to manage the resources, the level it will reach and how to control it, even the breed of the rice they will plant such that no matter the level of the water, it will not affect the rice. The same land we are using to plant our crops, this flood came and washed it away. This is devastating. River Kaduna has a confluence of River Niger here in Patigi. The rivers affected us here. So many communities have migrated naturally against their wish.”
Speaking, when he led Kwara State delegation to the areas last Thursday, the Head of Service (HOS), Alhaji Dabarako Mohammed and the special adviser to the Kwara State governor on Emergency and Relief Services, Alhaji Musa Abdulahi, said no lives were lost, but that residential buildings, worship centres and schools were pulled down by the flood.
While addressing members of the affected communities in Gbaradogi/Kpata Regatta village, the HOS assured the victims of government’s support in the areas of welfare, adding that government would provide relief facilities for the affected victims to cushion the effect of the disaster on them.
He stated that the government had set machinery in motion to provide lasting solution in the affected areas, and urged the people to vacate the river banks stressing that the flood is likely to persist till the end of November.
Also speaking, Chairman of Patigi local government, Alhaji Taoheed Lata, said the 48-hour flood alert notice, given by NEMA to residents of river banks was inadequate for the residents to relocate.
He said the agency should give longer notice in case of future occurrence, just as he called on the agency and the Federal Government to come to their aid, saying the extent of the calamity is beyond what the local and state government could shoulder.
“They should have given us adequate notice like one month or two months in advance. There are crops you can plant for three months and they will germinate. But with rain already going, it will be late to plant any crop again this year and the people will be the one to suffer for this”, he said.
In his comment the Chairman of Edu local government, Alhaji Abubakar Sayeed represented by the his Vice Alhaj Mohammed Debe thanked the state government for its prompt response
He said that, the incident was unfortunate one, but appealed to the state government to rise up to the challenge in order to reduce the suffering of the victims of the flood.
In the same vein, the acting Village Head of Gbaradogi/Kpata Regatta village, Alhaji Mohammed Sha’aba, appealed to the governor to take urgent actions that will alleviate their problems, saying that government should provide alternative accommodation in the up-land areas for a lasting relocation from the water-prone areas and build a new village at the new location offered to them by Etsu of Patigi.
“We commend and appreciate the government’s effort to come and see the effect of the flood in our area. But, the problem is that our farms have been destroyed by water. We don’t have any food to survive with. Our houses are dilapidated due to the impact of the flood. We have people that have nothing, no food to eat any longer. We beg you to help us”, he said.
According to the Managing Director, Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority, Ilorin, Engineer Abubakar Aduragba over 3, 200 hectares of rice plantation under Tada-Shonga Irrigation Scheme in Edu local government area of Kwara state have been submerged by the flood.
He said that the development if unchecked may affect rice production in the state. Aduragba added that, the flood was so devastating that, it has destroyed the potentials of the rice productivity in the two communities. He urged the federal government to release fund needed for the completion of the 32, 000 hectares in Tada-Shonga Irrigation project which had been flagged off by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. The project, according to him, is located along fertile plains of the River Niger between the villages of Tada and Shonga in Edu local government area.
Aduragba said further that the main objective of Tada-Shonga Irrigation scheme was to increase the nation’s rice production through an effective managed large scale rice plantation. He therefore said that the benefits of the project upon completion, include production of 53, 000 metric tonnes of rice annually through double cropping with market value in excess of over N3 billion.