Erosion, desertification, drought and flooding are Katsina State’s major environmental challenges. They pose great risks to basic infrastructure like roads, power and electrical installations, houses and farmlands amongst others.
The state being one of the frontline states neighbouring Niger Republic, has its own peculiar environmental issues.
Experts say the environmental challenges are interwoven and mainly caused by actions and inactions of inhabitants in the area. Most of these have to do with building on waterways, unnecessary tree felling as well as digging up land for buildings, constructions and climate change.
In Matazu Local Government Area of the state, whenever it rains, fear grips residents of Shantalawa, Shaiskawa, Danjiyal, Tsohuwar Kasuwa, and Ungwar Malamai as flood further widens up a gully that has eaten deep into the land, exposing their lives and properties to danger.
For over a decade, the small deep crack which was noticed on the land has continued to widen to about a kilometre and a depth of several feet such that it is now being called a “ditch of death” by the locals.
Several houses, the town’s cemetery and schools, are under threat of the fast widening gully in the town. Agricultural farm lands are not safe from the threat.
This has forced people into relocated while those that can’t leave are hoping for intervention to address the challenge.
Disturbed by the situation, the residents are sending a save our soul message to the authorities to help in addressing the menace.
A resident of Tsohuwar Tasha, Muhammad Aliyu said five persons have died in the last 10 years after falling inside the gully and at least 10 houses have been submerged and many people rendered homeless in the communities also as a result.
Another resident of Shantalawa, Isyaka Ibrahim while showing some cracks caused by the gully erosion on his residence said, “I live in fear every day. The land keeps caving in and one day may end up taking our houses.”
“In the past, we thought we could stop it by sand filling using self-help. However every time we tried our efforts go in vain, as it will not last more than months before it caves in again. It worsens in the rainy season,” he added.
He said to address the menace, government must step in as it requires state or federal intervention, stressing that the local council can’t handle it.
The Chairman of Matazu Local Government Development Association, Surajo Idris Matazu, said the gullies are all over and one of the greatest challenges to the existence of the community.
“At Doguwar Kasuwa, three houses were lost in 2016 and 2017 and of recent, one person has been forced to relocate his family after a communal effort to save his house was not successful.
“Karmatako is also a deep ditch in Shaiskawa in between the local government secretariat, hospital and a cemetery. It is widening every day and becoming a source of concern. It’s a busy road that is presently been eaten up by the widening ditch. This is in the middle of the town,” the chairman said.
According to him, neighbouring villages of Mazoji, Garin Ringim Idi, Garin Fafu and Sayaya are virtually been cut off by erosion, adding that “they are among the four worst hit council areas.”
“We have complained severally to the authorities but without any response,” he added.
For the Transition Committee Chairman of Matazu Local Government, Kabir Faruq Matazu, the amount of resources needed to address the ecological problems is far beyond the local government’s capability, adding that even the state government must seek federal might because environmental issues are capital intensive.
Some of the efforts being made so far by the council, he said, include notifying the state government which is presently sorting it out with the World Bank sponsored Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) to see that the issue is tackled.
“We wrote to the state government and luckily enough the governor approved the construction of a bridge that links Shantalawa with our Government Day Secondary School,” he said.
Meanwhile, the governor, Aminu Masari, is reported to have said the government has commenced the implementation of phase III ecological projects in 42 communities in the state at the cost of N2.5 billion.
He assured on the administration’s commitment to the NEWMAP partnership to address all ecological challenges in the state.