Every rainy season has always been a period of blessing to most subsistence African farmers and natives that depended on faraway streams for drinking water and irrigation. In Igboland, particularly Nnobi town in Idemili South Local Government Area, Anambra State, rainfall has become a joy-cut-short due to its menace to the Nnobi ecology. It has caused gully erosion that is ceaselessly eating deep into the town.
Presently, at Umuikechem kindred, Ndam village, Ngo quarter, Nnobi town, a short distance from the Idemili South Police headquarters and Magistrate Court, ravaging gully erosion is gathering momentum, triggering displacement of some inhabitants, the collapse of the infrastructures, and the cutting off of the strategic road that connected Nnobi to many Igbo towns.
It does not seem that the alleged contractor from the Anambra State Government, which earlier controlled the gully erosion when it wreaked havoc in the area about three years ago did satisfactorily work. This is because the point of the termination of the flood drainage was so short a distance from the centre of the erosion that it could have prompted the recent gully erosion. The erosion-controlling trees and shrubs that should have aided in deescalating the soil from wearing away were hardly seen within proximity. Thus, the efforts that the government put in controlling the erosion ended in smoke and resulted in another devastating gully erosion. As could be seen, the Nnobians that are seriously affected by the erosion are brooding despairingly, craving earnestly for the government’s lasting intervention.
It is important to note that one of the major causes of erosion in the affected town could be traced to the topography of Nnobi – a town which is situated on the western slope of the Awka/Orlu ridge caused by earth movement. The formation gave rise to a broad valley that is occupied by the Idemili stream that flows from Ezu Lake Agulu, a tributary of River Niger. The “Red Earth” soil type found in Nnobi belongs to the Nanka lithological sand. It is made up of coarse and friable crossbedded white and yellow sand, with bands of red sandstone and sandy clay. The soil ranges from partly unconsolidated to loosely consolidated sands. The soil spread is such that lateritic soil is completely absent on an average distance of 1 km from the Idemili Stream. It is within this gentle slope with no gummy soil, about 1000 metres from the deific Idemili stream, that the erosion devastation remained rampant.
It was the Roman Catholic Mission led by Rev. Fr Eugene Groetz in 1909 that initiated in Nnobi “the planting of Cashew trees to avert erosion encroachment towards the Christian Community Settlement.” Later on, the colonial government and subsequent governments multiplied the planting of the Cashew tree in the Idemili, Umunemelum, and Umuagu-Nnobi/Alor gullies. Apart from the Idemili gully close to the bank of the Idemili stream between the Awuda-Nnobi/Obofia Nnewi boundary, it is from Umuagu-Nnobi/Alor gully, which stretches about 4-kilometre-long that the current Ndam gully grew wings. As basklifenews writes, the gully erosion has encroached to the front door of Dr. Wilson Azugo (Ichie Onoja), a seasoned administrator and the former President-General of Nnobi Welfare Organization.
When the current erosion began to rear its ugly head last year, some federal government officials and contractors were said to have visited the erosion site and promised to control it. To date, nothing was done to nip the erosion in the bud. Giving the slope and gradient of the area, the flood is always speedy, fast, and forceful. If GOVERNMENT fails to intervene urgently it may be too costly and late.
The government needs to come to the aid of the Nnobi people by constructing lasting erosion-proof drainages with concrete catch pits to reduce the pressure of the flood and allows it to drain slowly into the Idemili stream. This measure should be supported with the planting of the trees like Cashew, Ukpaka (Pentaclethera Macrophylla), Icheku (Dialuim guieese), Otosi (Oxy tenanthera), Ububu (Berlina grand flora), and other shrubs and ground cover crops like Achala (Pennisetum Purpureum), Araba (Acioa barteri), Uda (Uviria Chamae), Mucuna, and so on.
Until the government comes to the aid of the Nnobi people, the inhabitants are expected to avoid bush burning, cutting of trees for firewood, the excavation of sand at the erosion-prone vegetation, and serving as whistleblowers. The inhabitants should avoid farming on steep slopes, but when necessary should be done with contour ridging to minimize runoff. They should engage in intercropping of arable crops with trees to ensure that the soil is always protected by a vegetative cover. Nnobians should reduce the volume of flood in the drainage by constructing catch pits in their houses or areas that could generate much flood. When all these measures are put into action, it is expected that the perennial erosion nightmare in Nnobi will be reduced to the barest minimum.
The governing bodies in the Nnobi town should wake up from slumber and take the bull by the horn. They should intensify efforts to attract the government to the drawing board. All hands should be on deck to curtail the ugly gully. Nnobi is a strategic town. Once gully erosion denies the town accessible roads, many towns in Anambra State could be affected adversely.
A stitch in time saves nine.