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Hydrological and environmental impact of hydropower dam operations in Niger, Kwara, Kebbi and Kogi States


Prof. B. F. Sule
Dr. A. W. Salami        
Dr. A. Usman
Dr. B. Salawu    
Dr. T. Y  Akande                                                                        
Mr. O. O. Adeleke    
Mr.  S.O Bilewu    
Mr. S. A. Aremu   

Problem statement
The establishment of hydro-electric dams in Nigeria served as developmental projects for the country, but the communities where the dams are located are facing annual flooding which are made worse when the authorities of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) open the dams to let off water at the peak of the rains. This has caused havoc on several communities on the flood plain of the River Niger, threatening their entire livelihood and bringing untold hardship upon them. It has been reported that in 1997 and 1998, properties worth over =N= 500 million were destroyed by floods in Borgu and Mokwa local government areas of Niger State. Several houses and farmlands were submerged by the surging water, the victims were forced to move from their houses to public buildings like primary schools and their economic, social and educational life were disturbed. It was also reported that the Rabba rice irrigation scheme located near Mokwa has been abandoned since 1994 due to floods. Another report in 1999 stated that about 200 communities were affected by flood which kills over 1000 people. About 1,500 houses and 52 primary schools were rendered inhabitable. Also thousands were rendered jobless and homeless in Niger, Kwara and Kogi States. The News Watch Magazine (October, 25, 1999) reported that the Niger State government has taken PHCN to court over issues ranging from flooding to non-payment of adequate compensation to the flood victims.

The occurrence of flood has great effect on the sugar cane fields located at the downstream of Jebba dam because it leads to the damage of irrigation and water conveyance structures, sugar cane loss and additional cost of maintenance. The cost of rehabilitation, due to floods, in 1994, 1998 and 1999 about N1.3 billion. The incessant flooding and the lack of attention and adequate compensation to the victims has led the clamour by the four states (Kebbi, Niger, Kwara and Kogi) worst hit by the flood to advocate for the establishment of a Hydropower Areas Development Commission (HYPADEC). The National Assembly is presently considering a bill on HYPADEC.

Justification of Study
The construction of dams in the country is given too much of structural or engineering consideration with little or no environmental impact assessment of the operations after the design and construction. The environmental problems as a result of operation are usually devastating, thus the need for impact assessment.  The general position is that PHCN is only interested in the use of water to generate power without due consideration of other interests downstream of the dams. Hence this study is significant as it will address the following issues

  • Identify the environmental hazards associated with the dams
  • Evaluate the magnitude and significance of the hazards and effects, and assess control options
  • Identify changes in downstream hydrology
  • Identify changes in downstream morphology caused by altered flow pattern
  • Identify changes in downstream water quality caused by altered flow pattern
  • Examine control techniques to eliminate or lessen the severity of the effects and to manage the hazards
  • Develop plans and procedures to manage the environmental changes due to the operation of the dams

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