By Eugine Makaya
A sleeping giant that never says a word, so is Nwanedi River. In its sleep Nwanedi River dreams of what happens to it downstream – people exploiting it mercilessly. The river channel and river bed have been seriously tempered with. Narrow is the river channel upstream, and faster is the flow. Downstream, the river channel becomes broader and flow is relatively slow.
As the river dreams following its course down to Cross dam, it sees PVC and steel pipes stuck into its sandy bed, sucking water all day. Pumps roaring and field thirsty for water, so is a common day. Nwanedi River, sees people scrambling for its water, conflicts arising day after day. Thanks to the water users association and the catchment forum who come to its rescue here and there. Thank goodness, that all pumps are made to stop sucking from the river every Friday night, to resume their business the following Monday. Most agony comes from commercial farmers left of the river as one goes downstream, where there are many commercial farmers, unlike the right ride where farmers practice dry farming and some irrigate from the canal. However, the tug-of-war below Cross Dam leaves the river ailing. Flow levels get extremely diminished that even the aquatic ecosystem is compromised.
Thanks to a bountiful year 2016, where excessive rains have been feeding the river. Till now the river smiles with life. With all its eyes upon the river channel, Nwanedi is quick to remember the floods of the year 2000. The river can’t forget the moments when its banks were full to the brim, over flooding the farmers in its proximity. Many of whom were practising stream bank cultivation. Nwanedi River, does not even want to imagine the 1983 drought, which resulted in many farmers not getting a single drop. If such would happen next year, how will the river and all its dependents survive?
Currently the deficiency of water in the river has seen oxbow lakes developing, sand dunes manifesting, and evasive aquatic species in the likes of reeds taking over, needless to talk about bushes and shrubs in its bed. Who cares? Nobody! More care has been directed toward the field crops. Nwanedi river weeps in its dream but no tears are shed.
As the river wakes from its slumber, it roves its eyes over its entirety and sees a bright future; famers and communities looking forward to its provision. Like a mother, the river sees its children living on it, drawing water for irrigation, while leaving enough for the river to feed its siblings downstream. Nwanedi River sees farmers, brick makers, animals and people equitably distributing its water. What an achievement.