Komadugu Yobe Basin
In areas with a semi-arid climate, high rainfall variability and frequent severe drought, such as the Komadugu Yobe River in northern Nigeria, conflicts over the life-giving source of water can be intense. Previously, the region had no mechanism to manage conflicting demands until WANI helped catalyze a dialogue among riparian states and then helped develop a “water charter,” which laid out a framework for cooperation.
The Komadugu Yobe River drains into Lake Chad, a marshy shallow lake that famously grows and shrinks over the years. There is great poverty in the river basin, where the population has doubled in three decades to more than 23 million. Over the same time, river flow has fallen by 35% because of construction of the Tiga and Challawa Gorge dams, abstraction of water for commercial irrigation and a changing regional climate.
Working with the Federal Ministry of Water Affairs and the Nigeria Conservation Foundation, WANI led development of a comprehensive knowledge base for the basin. A scientific assessment quantified water demand and availability and developed scenarios to provide a basis for informed decision making. The project also reviewed the policy and institutional framework in the basin, identifying the absence of any coordinated basin management institutions. To move forward, WANI catalyzed dialogue among the riparian states to develop a plan for the basin.
The first outcome was the formation of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) committees in each state. Next, dialogues were convened at the basin level to spur negotiation of a management plan. The plan was backed by a “water charter”, which laid out a framework for governance and institutional reform based on agreed sustainable development principles and the definition of the roles and responsibilities of state governments and stakeholders.
A set of pilot projects – including clearing aquatic weed infestations that block river flows, dredging channels, improving an early warning flood alert, and settling disputes – delivered livelihood benefits to communities.
At a 2006 summit of state and Federal governments in the basin, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo announced the inauguration of a 125US$ million Trust Fund to support implementation of the basin management plan. Commitments of 13US$ million were made by the six riparian state governors and the federal government. In 2008, the Nigerian IWRM Commission was announced, headed by the main architect of the Komadugu Yobe Basin project. The commission will provide an important platform for replication of the approach in other basins in Nigeria and scaling-up internationally in the wider Lake Chad basin.
The second phase of the project will work with the Trust Fund to enable ratification of the water charter by the 6 Basin States. Scaling-up the Catchment Management Plan to the wider Lake Chad Basin and capitalizing on the lessons from the success of the KYB approach is also ongoing.