|ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS AND DEVELOPMENTAL CHALLENGES CONFRONTING RIVER NIGER AND ITS BASIN
Professor Haruna Kuje Ayuba
Professor of Environmental Science
Department of Geography
Nasarawa State University, PMB 1022 Keffi
Nasarawa State, Nigeria
PAPER PRESENTED AT THE 8TH AFRICAN ORGANIZATION OF SUPREME AUDIT INSTITUTIONS WORKING GROUP ON ENVIRONMENTAL AUDITING (AFROSAI-WGEA) ANNUAL MEETING, WHICH HELD FROM 12TH -16TH SEPTEMBER, 2016 AT TRANSCOP HILTON HOTEL, ABUJA, NIGERIA
The Ag. Auditor-General for the Federation (Mrs F N Anyanwu; FCNA, ACT);
Distinguished African Delegates from various Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs)
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
I thank the Office of the Audior-General for the Federation, Nigeria for inviting me to present this paper entitled: Environmental Risks/Threats confronting River Niger.
Situating River Niger and its Basin
Potentials of the Niger Basin (River Niger as a common pool resource)
Development challenges within the Niger River Basin
Major Environmental Risks
Towards sustainability of the River Niger and its Basin
SITUATING THE RIVER NIGER AND ITS BASIN
3.1 Exploration and Discovery
Most (if not all) of us have heard of River Niger because of its popularity. The original name of the river “egerou n-igereou”, meaning the “river of rivers” was given by the Tuareg, expressing the exceptional character they attributed to it. Along its course it is known by several names as the Joliba (Malinke: “great river”) in its upper course; the Mayo Balleo and the Isa Eghirren in its central reach; and the Kwarra, Kworra, or Quorra in its lower stretch (Encyclopædia Britannica -Niger River, 2016).
Documented knowledge of the possible existence of River Niger first came in the 18th century when the Scottish Explorer by name Mongo Park explored the Interior of Africa and the river. The discovery of river Niger is historically credited to Mongo Park since 1796 (I think that Mungo Park might have been shown the river course by some African villagers who did not document their existence) The course of the river was established in Mungo Park’s book Travels in the Interior of Africa, (1799). The Niger Republic, Nigeria and Niger State (Nigeria) got their names from the River Niger.
3.2 Source, Length and Tributaries:
Niger River (Figs 1 and 2) flows from the Guinea Highlands located in southeastern Guinea at Latitudes 9°05′ N and 10°47′ W into the Gulf of Guinea and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean. The Niger River has one of the most unusual routes of any of the major rivers in the world. This is because the river rises not far from the Atlantic Ocean, about 240 km, and instead of flowing to the nearby Atlantic Ocean, it takes a northeasterly course toward the Sahara Desert, before turning southeast to eventually discharge to the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria. This strange geography apparently came about because the Niger River consists of two ancient rivers joined together. The upper Niger, from the source west of Timbuktu to the bend in the current river near Timbuktu, once emptied into a now dry lake to the east northeast of Timbuktu, while the lower Niger started to the south of Timbuktu and flowed south into the Gulf of Guinea. Over time upstream erosion by the lower Niger resulted in stream capture of the upper Niger by the lower Niger.
Figure1. The Niger River (Bakary Kone Wetlands International))
Figure 2. Niger River with tributaries (Ogilvie et al 2010)
River Niger is about 4,180 Km long (2597 Miles) making it the longest River in West Africa, and the third longest in Africa ((after the Nile and Congo Rivers) and fourteenth longest in the world. Its major tributary is the Benue River. Other ones include the Sirba river, Tinkisso River, Milo River, Niandan River, Sankarani River, Bani River, Mekrou River, Sokoto River, Kaduna River, Forcados River, and the Nun River. Together with its tributaries, the Niger drains a total area of some 730,000 square miles (1,900,000 square km).
The Niger River is clean and relatively “clear” of sediments because its headwaters lie in ancient rocks that provide little silt. It floods yearly; beginning in September and peaking in November, then ends in May.