How India’s irrigation model can recharge Nigeria’s arid lands

Daily Trust

By Vincent A. Yusuf,Friday, September 20, 2019

Northern Nigeria is threatened by desertification, drought and the drying up of lakes across the region coupled with decrease in the amount of rainfall in most areas. This is responsible for the migration down south of many cattle breeders who rely on rain-fed forage for their animals.

This massive migration is responsible for the deadly onslaught and killings between cattle breeders and sedentary farmers in parts of the north, central and southern Nigeria.

This situation is similar to that of the India village of Laporiya, 90km from Jaipur, the capital city of the state of Rajasthan, which  is a semi-arid region affected by desertification. Just like most northern fridges of Nigeria. Desertification is today the greatest threat to mankind living in the global south countries – Asia, Africa and parts of Latin America. While many countries are fighting desertification holistically, Nigeria’s response to the fast-encroaching desert in the north is very slow; even the Great Green Wall project is in limbo. But the Indian village of Laporiya’s approach to fighting these problems proves that local methods could solve many problems associated with drought, desertification and migration – something Nigerian communities need to learn from. What Laporiya did Many years ago, Laporiya, an agrarian community, was relentlessly hit by drought. Scarcity of water for the pastoralists and irrigation farmers became severe forcing thousands of farmers and their livestock to migrate to other parts of the state. But one man, Laxman Singh decided to take the bull by the horn to resuscitate the village’s lost glory. He studied the flow of water using traditional conservation method. He mobilized the youths in the community and dug chaukas (embankments) in the agriculture fields and pasture lands for rainwater harvesting as a means to recharge the underground water. These chaukas hold rainwater, which is made available all the time for the farmers and pastoralists.

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Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.