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Department of Economics, University of Africa
Toru-Orua, Bayelsa State, Nigeria
Tel: 08035481251

School of Foundation Studies, General Studies
Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic Bori
P. M. B. 20, Rivers State, Nigeria


This paper conducted an assessment of the performance of the 36 states of Nigeria considering the level of their debt burdens. The study assessed the debt burdens of states in the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Focus of the study was on states’ dependence on federal allocations, extra revenue for capital investment, fiscal bandwidth to borrow more funds and priority to invest more on capital expenditure. Materials were sourced from published journals, text books, and internet. The state hinged on “Overhang Debt Theory. The study adopted explorative review of debt burden of states ranking. It was found that; for limited dependence on federal allocations, for North-central, Taraba state had the highest ranking position while Lagos state had lowest ranking position. On remaining revenue for investment after loan repayment, Taraba state was ranked highest while Ebonyi state from South from South-East was ranked lowest. On the fiscal bandwidth to borrow more, Cross River state was ranked highest while Jigawa from North-West came lowest in the ranking position. On the priority to invest more in capital expenditure, Benue state was ranked highest while Ebonyi state came lowest in ranking. The paper suggested that government should prioritize her spending on projects. Non-viable projects should be avoided to curb spending. There should be revenue diversification to generate more funds for capital spending and government should adopt Russian approach by selling her oil in Nigerian currency at a reduced price to help increase the value of her currency.

Key words: Analysis, Debt Burdens, Geopolitical Zones, Nigeria, Appraisal

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Analysis of Causes and Effects of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake of Rugangye Irrigation Farming in Yola South, North-Eastern Part of Nigeria




1,3&4Department of Agricultural Technology, Adamawa State Polytechnic, Yola P.M.B 2146 Adamawa State Nigeria

2Department of Agric Extension and Rural Development, Modibbo Adama University, Yola Nigeria

Corresponding Author: 070-68036372


This study aimed to analyze the causes and effects of water scarcity at Njuwa lake of Rugangye irrigation farming in Yola South, North-eastern part of Nigeria. Data were obtained from the well defined and structured questionnaires that consisted of four (4) parts: demographic data of the respondents, causes of water scarcity, effects of water scarcity and coping strategies aspect, randomly administered to the selected sampled farmers of 250 in the area. Simple descriptive statistics was used in analyzing the data. The results show that frequent and excess irrigation (25%) and poor management (22%) were the most agronomic causes of water scarcity. The hydro-climatic causes are water discharge (24%) and high evaporation rate (22%),  managerial and institutional causes include abandoning of Chochi irrigation project and linkage of Njuwa Lake each were as assessed (22%). Similarly, siltation of Njuwa lake (28%) and slope extent (21%) were the edaphic causes of water scarcity and other anthropogenic caused encompasses livestock consumption (29%) and water pollution (26%) respectively. The most evident effects experienced include low crop productivity (16%), loss of fishing activities (13) and abandoning of farm due to loss of capital (12%) correspondingly. Use of early matured crop varieties and digging of wells (20%) were among the most adopted coping strategies of water scarcity in the area. To address this problem, it therefore recommends the completion of Chochi irrigation project should also be considered by the federal government in order to realize sustainable food production for the growing population in the area. Similarly, the farmers need to be trained on the effective water use and management.

Keywords: Analysis, Causes, Irrigation, Njuwa Lake and Water scarcity


Adequate food production to sustain the high demand of the rapid population can be achieved through expansion of irrigation farming in the global scale. However, water scarcity is the major threat affecting irrigation farming most especially in the developing countries caused by various factors. Global demand for food may double over the period 1990-2030 with an increase of 2.5 to 3 times in developing countries as a whole and much as 5 times in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa (Daily et al., 1998; Asadu et al., 2004). To support this growing population, food production will need to respond to the growing demand. Increases in production could potentially come from increases in irrigated agriculture, which currently produces approximately 40 percent of total cereals (Mark et al., 2002). About 20% of total arable cropland is under irrigation, producing 40% of the global harvest (Bruinsma, 2003; Timm et al., 2008).  With continuing population growth and limited potential to increase suitable cropland, irrigation becomes an increasingly important tool to ensure sufficient global supply of food in the future (Wichelns and Oster, 2006). Therefore, it may be said that without irrigation, increases in agricultural yields and outputs that have fed the world’s growing population would not have been possible. Today’s 250 million hectares of irrigated area, worldwide, is nearly five times the amount that existed at the beginning of the twentieth century (Mark et al., 2002). However, agriculture is accountable for the largest extraction of water and thus considered the chief ‘culprit’ under conditions of local absolute scarceness (COAG, 2007). Thus, irrigation is the dominant user of water accounting for 72 percent of global water withdrawals, of which 90 percent is used in developing countries (Mark et al.,2002).

 Food production through irrigation farming is seriously faced with the problem of water scarcity most especially in developing countries of Africa. Ladan, (2019) explained that the issue of availability or shortage of water for irrigation farming has recently attracted the attention of scholars and the media particularly in Northern Nigeria. The United Nations has estimated that by the year 2050, about 4 billion people will be seriously affected by shortage of water (Garg et al., 2007). This is because water scarcity can cut production and badly impact food security worldwide. According to Tahir (2014) the brutality of the water crisis has prompted the United Nations to conclude that it is water scarcity, not to be deficient in arable land that will be the most important limitation to increased food production over the next few decades. Vicious positive feedback between water scarcity, food production constraints, undernourishment and poverty has tended to delay socio-economic development in water-scarce regions in Sub-saharan Africa (Rockström et al., 2007; Grey and Sadoff, 2007; Falkenmark and Lannerstad 2010). In Nigeria, the construction of dams particularly in the north began earnestly following the effects of the Sahelian drought of 1972 – 1975 when aggravated food shortage prompted the various levels of government to embark on a rigorous policy to increase food production (Ladan, 2019).

Increasing water scarcity for agriculture not only limits crop area expansion but also slows irrigated cereal yield growth in developing countries. Water scarcity can induce increases in food prices and, hence, decreases in food demand. The insufficiency of water resources to meet the needs of adequate food production for the growing population is a critical issue that requires ardent attention. Therefore, improved understanding of historical developments can provide a basis for addressing future challenges. Increasing agricultural water security through irrigation to complement soil moisture deficit has driven improved agricultural production in large regions of the world (Falkenmark, 2013). In Yola South LGA, Rugangye irrigation farming is the major area where intensive irrigation activities are carried out seasonally. The area is located at the flood plain of River Benue which has a flat to undulating topography that allows intensive dry season farming due to its proximity with Njuwa lakes which sourced its water from river Chochi as minor tributaries to river Benue (Sadiq, 2019). Irrigation farming is becoming more intensive along Rugangye flood plain of River Benue which significantly improved the livelihood and socio-economic status of people living in the area. However, the irrigation farming system in the study area is still faced with water scarcity challenges which eventually reduced the expected output of the farm produce caused by various factors (see plates 1 below). There is ardent need to analyze the prevailing factors that caused the water deficit and its effects on agricultural activities. To this end, this paper aimed to analyze the causes and effects of water scarcity at Njuwa Lake of Rugangye irrigation farming in Yola South, North-eastern part of Nigeria.

January, 2020               February, 2020                  March, 2020            April, 2020

Plates 1. Depicted the sequential drying of Njuwa Lake from January to April, 2020 which may be due to agronomic, hydro-climatic and edaphic factors imposing tremendous effects on agricultural production in the area  


Study Area

The study was conducted in Rugangye flood plains of Yola South LGA, North-eastern part of Nigeria which lies on latitude 9o 14’N and 9o 20’N of the equator and longitude 12˚25’E to 12˚28’E 120 25’E and 120 28’E of the Greenwich meridian, it has total population of 336, 648 persons as of 2010 (National population commission of Nigeria, N.P.C. 2006). The average annual rainfall in the study area ranges between 850mm-1000mm with over 41% of rain falling in August and September. Temperature also has a significant temporal variation in the study area; with an average maximum temperature of 42oC with an average relative humidity of about 29% (Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority Yola,  2018).

Sampling Techniques and Data Collection.

This study was quantitative in nature which largely based on data collection where total numbers of 250 sampled farmers (62.5 % of the total farmers) out of the 400 registered farmers in the study area were selected randomly as the respondents. The survey adopted face-to-face quantitative survey approach using well defined and structured questionnaires that consisted of four (4) parts: demographic data of the respondents, causes of water scarcity, effects of water scarcity and coping strategies aspect, randomly administered to the sampled farmers. On-farm oral interviews and evident pictures were also observed in order to achieve the objectives of the study. Additional relevant data such as journal and textbooks were exploited as secondary sources from library, internets, institutions and agencies respectively.

Data Analysis

The data collected were subjected to descriptive statistical analysis where simple percentages, frequency distribution and charts were obtained.


Demographic Data of the Respondents

Results on the demographic data of the farmers in the study area were presented in table 1. It was revealed that 26 % of the respondents were within the active age (41- 50 years) as 20.4 % of them were within 31-40 years while those within 51-60 years were found to be 16 % and only 5.2 % of the farmers were >70 years respectively. Similarly, 36 % of the farmers obtained secondary school certificate as level of education, while tertiary certificates attracted 23.6 % of them and those with primary school certificate were recorded 9.2 % of the respondents. For occupational status, majority of the respondents ( 29.6 %) were revealed to be farmers then followed by civil servants with 24 % of them while pension 15. 2 %, businessmen received  11.2 % each and only 9.2 % of the respondents in the area were artisan workers. Likewise, monthly income level also received considerable responses where 32.8  % of the respondents earn 2701-36000 Naira while those gross up > 36000 Naira monthly were 28 % of them and 16.8 % of the respondents obtained the sum of 18001-27000 Naira respectively.

Table 1. Demographic Data of the Respondents.

  ≤ 20 24 9.6
Age of the Respondents 21-30 36 14.4
  31-40 51 20.4
  41-50 65 26.0
  51-60 40 16.0
  61-70 21 8.4
   ≥70 13 5.2
  Never been in school 32 12.8
  Religion school 46 18.4
Level of Education Primary school 23 9.2
  Secondary school 90 36.0
  Tertiary school 59 23.6
  Civil servant 60 24.0
Occupational status Private servant 27 10.8
  Business 28 11.2
  Pensioner 38 15.2
  Farmer 74 29.6
  Artisan 23 9.2
  < 9000 22 8.8
  9001-18000 34 13.6
Monthly Income level (Naira) 18001-27000 42 16.8
  27001-36000 82 32.8
  >3600 70 28.0

Source:  Field Survey, (2020).

Agronomic Causes of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

Frequent and excess irrigation (over pumping)

Results on the agronomic causes of water scarcity in the area were presented on table 2. It was revealed that frequent and excess (over pumping) irrigation was appeared as the major agronomic caused of water scarcity with 25% of the respondents. It is a known fact that groundwater is depleted when pumping rates exceed the rate of natural recharge. This finding concurred with result of Mark et al., (2002) stated that pumping groundwater at unsustainable rates has contributed to the lowering of groundwater tables and to saltwater intrusion in some coastal areas. Inefficient and uncoordinated water use depletes aquifers, reduces river flows and degrades wildlife habitats, and it has caused salinization on 20 percent of the global irrigated land area (FAO, 2016). Similarly, in parts of the North China Plain, groundwater levels are falling by as much as one meter per year (Mark et al., 2002). In the West Indian state of Gujarat, over pumping from coastal aquifers drove a rapid expansion of agricultural production in the 1960s and 1970s. But the over pumping caused saltwater to invade the aquifers, leading to a similarly rapid collapse of production (Molden et al., 2001). Overdraft or mining of groundwater at a higher rate than recharge increases pumping lifts and costs from the lowered water table, causes land to subside (sometimes irreversibly damaging the aquifer), and induces saline intrusion and other degradation of water quality in the aquifer (Mark  et al., 2002). At the same time, increasing irrigation withdrawals and spatial and temporal variability in rainfall and surface flows are causing water scarcity in many parts of Tanzania such as the Pangani and Rufiji River basin (United Republic of Tanzania, State of the Environment Report, 2006).

Poor irrigation scheduling and management

Poor irrigation scheduling and management by the most of the farmers was assessed 22% to have caused water scarcity in the area (table 2). Appropriate scheduling and management facilitate effective water use efficiency in irrigation farming in the area. Thus, it is revealed that enhancing water management can reduce the impact of water scarcity (Falkenmark and Molden, 2008; Hanjra and Qureshi, 2010; Tahir, 2014). Therefore, the success of irrigation in ensuring food security and improving rural welfare has been impressive, but past experiences also indicate that inappropriate management of irrigation has contributed to environmental problems including excessive water depletion, water quality reduction, waterlogging, and salinization (Mark  et al., 2002).

Poor bed and furrow constructions

20 % of the respondents agreed that poor bed construction and furrows led to water deficit in the lake and drying off (table 2). The findings are in conformity with recent result of Sadiq (2019) who explained that furrows and inlet are poorly constructed to provide adequate water supply to the beds consequently leading to the drying up of beds due to lack of adequate skills and technical know-how among the farmers in the area.

Used of late matured crop varieties

It was revealed that 18 % of the farmers conceived that used of late matured crop varieties was among the agronomic factors affecting water shortage in the irrigation area (table 2). The used of local crop varieties with longer life cycle such as Lantan, and Jamila rice varieties have been identified by some farmers in the area where the drying of the Lake occurred at flowering stage consequently reducing the expected the yield. Sadiq (2019) explained in his findings that, Njuwa Lake is subjected to seasonal drying which leads to reduction of crop yield due to insufficient of water at flowering stage.  

Used of crop varieties with high water potentials

Only 15 % of the farmers agreed that used of crop varieties with high water potentials had also attributed to water shortage (table 2). It is another contributing factor that led to exacerbated reduction of water in the area. Because some crop varieties required high amount of water for their physiological and biochemical processes of growth and development than another crop respectively.

Table 2 Agronomic Causes of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

S/n Factors Frequency (n= 250) Percentage (100%)
1 Poor irrigation scheduling and management 55 22
2 Frequent and excess irrigation (over pumping) 63 25
3 Poor bed construction 50 20
4 Used of crop varieties with high water potentials 37 15
5 Used of late matured crop varieties 45 18

Source: Field Survey, (2020)

Hydro-Climatic Causes of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

Water Discharge from Njuwa Lake

Water discharge from Njuwa Lake attributed to 24 % of the farmers to caused water scarcity on the Njuwa Lake ass depicted on table 3. The Njuwa Lake was linked to River Benue with the aim of water harvesting by the Chochi irrigation Project which eventually led to the excessive water discharge from the lake to the Rive Benue due to abandoned of the project. This has adversely caused a significant reduction of water storage capacity of the lake to hold water all the year. Thus, the higher the water discharge from water source the lower the amount of water hold by the source.

High Evaporation Rate

22 % of the famers had conceived that high evaporation rate was the second hydro-climatic factor that resulted to water scarcity in the irrigation (table 3). Due to high temperature experienced in the study area most especially around December to April period when irrigation activities are carried out imposed water molecules from water bodies to cohesively detached leading to high evaporation rate. Thus, Sadiq (2020) explained that if the rate of evaporation is higher than the precipitation  the ground water surface will eventually reduce or deplete which consequently might lead to hydrological drought leading to drying of reservoirs, lakes, streams, rivers and cessation of spring flows and fall in the groundwater table.

Low Rainfall

Water scarcity in the area was also assessed by 20 % of the farmers to have caused by low rainfall amount experienced (table 3). The study area is seriously faced with decline in rainfall amount most especially in the recent decades affecting water availability in streams, reservoirs, lakes and dams respectively. According to the scenarios described in the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (Jiménez et al., 2014 , Bates et al.,2008), changes in precipitation and temperature may lead to changes in runoff and water availability, which, in turn, could affect crop productivity (Jiménez et al 2014). Climate change directly have significant impacts on agriculture by increasing water demand, limiting crop productivity and reducing water availability in areas where irrigation is most needed or has a comparative advantage ( FAO, 2016). In addition, spatial and temporal variability in rainfall and surface flows are causing water scarcity in many parts of Tanzania such as the Pangani and Rufiji River basin (United Republic of Tanzania, State of the Environment Report, 2006; World Bank, United Republic of Tanzania, 2006).Thus, changes in precipitation patterns, the intensity and frequency of extreme events and soil moisture, runoff and evapotranspiration fluxes have already been observed and more important changes are expected in the future (Bates et al., 2008). Low rainfall years can lead to severe water shortages even in regions in which water is relatively plentiful in most years. (Mark et al.,  2002).

 High atmospheric temperature

High atmospheric temperature was evaluated by 19 % of the respondents that led to water deficit affecting irrigation farming (table 3). This is because an increase in atmospheric temperature is directly influencing the rate of evaporation, the high the atmospheric temperature the greater the susceptible of increase of evaporation from water bodies. The study area was characterized by increase in atmospheric temperature most especially during irrigation period (dry season) from December (33.4oC mean) to May (39oC mean) every year (UBRBDA, 2018). Thus, the combined effect of higher temperature and the reduction of water availability in regions affected by falling annual or seasonal precipitation leads to the increase of crop evaporative demands, with the consequent reduction in crop yield and agricultural productivity, where temperature constrains crop growth (FAO, 2011). High temperature facilitates evaporation rate while low temperature reduces the rate of water, moisture and vapour loss from the ground surface (Sadiq, 2020).

Low Humidity

14% of the farmers conceived that low humidity also contributed to water scarcity in the area. It is a known fact that if relative humidity of an area is high there would be high possibility of drought and offset of rainfall (table 3). The low humidity in the area during dry season may also be considered as climatic factor of water scarcity in the area. This is because the extent of saturation depends on the quantity of water vapour present in the air which might give rise to condensation and later excessive precipitation (Sadiq, 2020).

Table 3. Hydro-Climatic Causes of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

S/n Factors Frequency (n = 250) Percentage (p=100 %)
1 Low Humidity 35 14
2 Low Rainfall 50 20
3 High Atmospheric Temperature 50 20
4 High Evaporation Rate 55 22
5 Water Discharge from Njuwa lake 60 24

Source: Field Survey, (2020)

Managerial and Institutional causes of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

Linking of Njuwa Lake with River Benue

Linking Njuwa Lake with River Benue contributed greatly to the increased water scarcity in the area with about 22 % of the respondents as portrayed on table 4. The River Chochi irrigation project by the federal government had led extension of Njuwa Lake to link with River Benue with the aim of diverging water from river Benue to the dams to expand the irrigation farming in the area under Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority. Unfortunately, the project was abandoned for more than 9 years which led to release of water from the lake into the river Benue thereby holding less amount of amount than before. However, a little moved have been by the present government towards completion of the project in her effort to boost food production for the growing population. This result is in conformity with the report of Mark et al., (2002). In some basins, excessive diversion of river water has led to environmental and ecological disasters for downstream areas.

Abandoning of Chochi dam construction

Similarly, abandoning of Chochi dam construction project was also assessed by 22 % of the farmers causing water deficit in the area (table 4). Since, 1998 federal government started the construction of river chochi dam till date the project was uncompleted (plate 2) which in turn led to water scarcity in the area, the water expected to store in the dams are being passed away to river Benue. According to recent findings of Sadiq (2019) explained that the river is seasonal in nature which dries up before the onset of rainy season as a result of artificial rejuvenation constructed by the federal government to established River Chochi Irrigation Project.  Since 1998 the project was abandoned for about 22 year and yet not been completed to curtail the insufficient of water source in the study. Thus, in order to harness the precious water resources of a country, dams are constructed across streams and rivers. The construction of a wall type obstruction across a river helps in the storage of water upstream, forming what is known as reservoir (Garg et al., 2007). The creation of a dam is considered as a viable way of providing sufficient water for year round irrigation for improving agricultural productivity (Ladan, 2016).

Plate 2. The uncompleted structures of river Chochi irrigation project in the study area. (Adopted from Sadiq , 2019).

Poor drainage construction

16 % of the respondents agreed that poor drainage constructions in the farms had led to exacerbated water scarcity in the area (table 4). Farmers are locally and manually constructing furrows or gaps between beds to flood the water either from the boreholes or lakes into the sunken beds through minor water inlet (Sadiq, 2019). Moreover, poor irrigation practices accompanied by inadequate drainage have often damaged soils through oversaturation and salt build-up (Mark et al.,2002).

Lack of modern irrigation equipment

The farmers (14 %) in the area agreed that lack of modern irrigation equipment also facilitated towards shortage of water in the irrigation farmlands (table 4). Due to the use of local equipment and it was only few farmers who received technical training on the methods and techniques of irrigation farming before engaging in the practice and majority of them were not received any training (Sadiq, 2019) which may also be attributed to water scarcity in the area. Similarly, managerial factor received the second major factor; this is because most farmers are not equipped and trained on irrigation practices by the extension agents, and therefore they find it difficult to properly manage the crops as well as maintain the generators effectively (plate 3).

Plate 3. Shows the poor management and maintenance pump engine by some of the farmers in the study area (Adopted from Sadiq, 2019).

Rejuvenation of river Chochi

Rejuvenation of river Chochi by the Federal government was among the managerial and institutional causes of water shortage at Njuwa Lake in the irrigation area with about 14 % of the sampled population (table 4). Likewise, some farmers along river Chochi which directly takes water to Njuwa lakes in the area used the river as water source for irrigation. Even though, the river is seasonal in nature which dries up before the onset of rainy season as a result of artificial rejuvenation constructed by the federal government to established River Chochi Irrigation Project since 1998 which was abandoned for 20 years as was reported by the (Scope news report on 20th March, 2018; in Sadiq, 2019)

Lack of technical services

Lack of technical services among the farmers contributed about 12 % to an increased water shortage causing low crop yield in their irrigation farming (table 4). Similarly, Sadiq (2019) reported that few farmers were received technical training on the methods and techniques of irrigation farming before engaging in the practice and majority of them were not received any training. Thus, might also link to water mismanagement in the study area.

Table 4. Managerial and institutional causes of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

S/n Factors Frequency (n=250) Percentage (p=100%)
1 Lack of modern irrigation equipment 35 14
2 Lack of technical services 30 12
3 Rejuvenation of river Chochi 35 14
4 Abandoning of Chochi dam construction 55 22
5 Linking Njuwa Lake with River Benue 55 22
6 Poor drainage construction 40 16

Source: Field Survey, (2020).

Edaphic Causes of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

Siltation and sediment deposition

 Siltation and sediment deposition over Njuwa Lake over years appeared as the main factor limiting water availability by majority of the farmers (26%) affecting the yield negatively as presented on table 5. Hence, Mark et al.,(2002) further explained that deforestation causes rapid increases in erosion and sediment loads in rivers, in turn causing faster sedimentation of reservoir storage. In addition, Sadiq et al., (2019b) revealed that deforestation is among the main factor of soil degradation in the area thereby exposing the soil to ease of detachment and transportation during erosional process and deposited them into streams and lakes respectively. Sediment which reaches streams or watercourses can accelerate ban erosion, clog drainage ditches and stream channels, silt in reservoirs, cover fish spawning grounds and reduce downstream water quality (Wall, 2019). It was reported by Sadiq et al., (2019a) that averages of 41-80 hectares of land were destroyed by the flood in the study area of which sediment depositions are quite among.

Slope extent 

Similarly, slope extent accounted about 22% of the respondents to have contributed on the water scarcity scenarios in the area (table 5). Still some land remains uncultivated due to its distance from water source and topographic nature which might not support local manpower operations (See plates 4). Expansion of the farmland is achievable through inclusion of governmental and other related agencies into the project (Sadiq, 2019).

Plates 4. Shows the uncultivated land in the study area due to high terrain and remoteness of water sources (pictures taking by the Author: on 10th March, 2020) 

Siltation of tributary

18 % of the farmers revealed that siltation of tributary to Njuwa Lake had also led to water shortage that caused poor crop growth and low profitable farming (table 5). Some farmers along river Chochi which directly takes water to Njuwa lakes in the area used the river as water source for irrigation. However, river Chochi has a seasonal flow which dries up before the onset of rainy season caused by gradual deposition of sediment materials thereby reducing the depth of the river (plates 5). Thus, the Benue River is perennial and it has a rather low flow in the dry season and most of its tributary rivers are seasonal flowing only in the rainy season (UBRDA, 2012; Sadiq, 2019). Therefore, the farmers mostly cultivate vegetables than cereals to avert from drying up effects of the river. Generally, the bulk of the irrigation water is sourced from rivers and dams and conveyed via open channels or pipelines to irrigated farms for storage before use or direct application to rootzones (Richard and Philip, 2018). Upstream effects may include siltation, salination, and deforestation; (Curtin 2000; World Bank 1995; Berger 1994; Seckler 1992).

Plates 5. Shows the drying up of River Chochi in the study area (Adopted from Sadiq, 2019).

High rate of soil infiltration

High rate of soil infiltration has been conceived by 18 % of the farmers in the area to have caused water deficit below the irrigation requirement in the area (table 5). Clayey and loamy soils were the predominant soils in the area characterized by low infiltration rate due to the presence of micro-pore spaces and the soils possessed high water holding capacity which might not have significant effect of water deficit in the area. Thus, Quantification of infiltration is necessary to determine the availability of water to crops and to estimate the amount of additional water needed for irrigation (Ogban, 2017). According to the recent findings of Sadiq and Ardo (2020) in the area revealed that presence of high clay (60 %) content with moderate porosity (38 %) which may not favour good infiltration therefore resulting to high runoff on the arable lands and eventually developing rill to gully erosion.

Soil type

Only 16 % of the respondents in the study area agreed that soil type in the farm locations was among the edaphic factors that caused insufficient of water for agricultural activities in the area (table 5).  However, the clayey-loam soil characteristics are described by low infiltration and high hydraulic conductivity which may link to gradual formation of crusting thereby having low impact on reduction of water in the irrigation site respectively. Soil textural characteristics, specifically the percentage clay and sand, affect infiltration, because they determine whether infiltration rate is dominated by gravity forces or capillarity forces, under a given rainfall intensity (Ogban, 2017). Thus, clayey nature of the soils may easily predispose soils prone to erosion, because of the micropores availability in the soil which might lead to low infiltration and subsequently increasing run off progressively (Sadiq and Ardo, 2020). Hence, soil water is one of the principal factors limiting the growth of plants not only in the arid and semi-arid environment where total crop water requirements usually exceed water supply (Ogban, 2017).

Table 5. Edaphic Causes of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

S/n Factors Frequency (n=250) Percentage (p=100%)
1 Soil type 40 16
2  Slope extent  55 22
3 High rate of soil infiltration 45 18
4 Siltation and sediment deposition  65 26
5 Siltation of tributary 45 18

 Source: Field Survey, (2020).

Other Anthropogenic causes of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

Livestock consumption

Among other anthropogenic causes of water scarcity in Njuwa Lake Ruganye irrigation farming,   livestock consumption was the main factor revealed by the majority (26 %) of the farmers in the area as depicted on table 6. The Fulani pastoralist in the area usually carries their cattle and sheep to Njuwa Lake for drinking purpose, consuming a significant amount of water leading to gross reduction of water in the lake respectively. Similar report by Mark et al., (2002) revealed that direct water consumption by livestock is very small, but given the rapid increase of livestock production, particularly in developing countries, livestock water demand is projected to increase 71 percent from 1995 to 2025.Agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing, the three most prevalent industries in the region, have all been badly affected by water scarcity and low water quality (IOM; UNDP; IAU Iraq, 2011)

Water pollution

26 % of the respondents expressed that water pollution also contributed to the insufficient of water in the Lake where intensive irrigation activities are carried out (table 6).  Farmers in the area used chemicals and chemical fertilizer in excess which eventually contaminating the water in the lake consequently contributed to reduction of water quality and quantity affecting crops, animals and farmers health in the area respectively.  Many water quality problems have also been created or aggravated by changes in stream flows associated with water withdrawals for agriculture. Particularly problematic in situations of water scarcity, pollution reduces the volume of water available for safe use, and increases the cost of water treatment (Mark et al., 2002). Water pollution from agricultural crop production can be reduced at both point and non-point sources through integrated pest and plant nutrition management, and pollution control (e.g. stringent regulation and enforcement, and payments for ecosystem services). Water pollution stemming from intensive aquaculture and livestock production requires good management practices (Mark et al.,2002).

Fishing activities

Similarly, fishing activities accounted about 24 % of the farmers agreed to had led to water paucity causing negative effects on farming and farmers socio-economic status (table 6). Njuwa Lake is known with an intensive fishing festival over 40 years before the apparent effects of siltation affected the area. Some fishermen in the area uses water pumps engines and other techniques in harvesting fish in the lake which led to physical disturbance of the water in consequence reducing the water level in the lake at a detriment to other agricultural uses.

Industrial use

12 % conceived that industrial uses of water from the lake have also caused water insufficiency among the arable farmers in the area (table 6). However, there is few or no utilization of water by the industries in the area. Even though, some dwellers at Rugangye area used the water in the lake for building purposes and also those building along the lake due to rapid urbanization of an increased population in the area. According to (UBRBDA, Yola, 2012;  Festus, 2016) further explained that the flood plain of River Benue has a flat topography that allows the expansion of settlements and proximity of river as a source of water for various uses are major factors that attract various land users to the flood plain area thereby  causing large scale land cover conversion.

Domestic uses

Domestic uses of water from the Njuwa Lake in the area was received only 12 % of the respondents in the area causing unavailability of water for agricultural farming as portrayed on table 6 respectively. Considering the fact that the water in the lake is unsuitable for domestic use (cooking, drinking bathing etc) due to numerous health problems associated. This might be connected to low percentage of the respondents in the area. Thus, sources of water are many and varied, the levels of contamination also vary, and consequently a high degree of public health hazard can be associated with drinking water (Onweluzo and Akuagbazie, 2010). Similar finding was reported by Market al.,(2002) explained that the domestic and industrial sectors use far less water than agriculture, growth in water consumption in these sectors has been rapid Domestic water is used for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is critical in terms of health particularly for children. Thus, unsafe drinking water also contributes.

Table 6. Other Anthropogenic causes of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

S/n Factors Frequency ( n = 250) Percentage (p = 100 %)
1 Livestock consumption 65 26
2 Fishing activities 60 24
3 Industrial uses  30 12
4 Domestic uses 30 12
5 Water Pollution 65 26

Source: Field Survey, (2020)

Effects of Water Scarcity on Agricultural Activities of Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

Low crop productivity

Low crop productivity revealed as the major (16%) negative effect of water scarcity on irrigation farming in the area as presented on table 7. This result concurred with the finding of Igidi (2015), who reported that water scarcity has hit Sokoto State farmers around the border town of Illela people that engage in farming most at times incur losses because the plants drop and die and even when they survive, they yield just little produce. Growing water shortages are a particularly important source of yield growth decline (Mark et al., 2002).

Loss of fishing grounds

Similarly, loss of fishing grounds appeared as the second most negative effect of water scarcity on Njuwa Lake conceived by 12 % of respondents (table 7).  Fishing festival had known to take place over 40 years in the area which eventually discarded due to deposition and siltation of debris, sands and pebbles over the lake. According to recent result of Sadiq  et al., (2019), explained that Njuwa lakes is an ox-bow lake, which used to host the annual Njuwa fishing festival, until recently when it dried up mainly as a result of siltation effects thereby losing the festival and reducing the fishing activities which in turn affects the socio-economic status of the people directly.

Loss of capital and increase in poverty

12% of the farmers agreed that loss of capital and increase in poverty rate was appeared as the problem imposed by water scarcity in Rugangye irrigation area (table 7). Water scarcity in the area had led crop failure, decline in fishing activities and livestock starvation which are the primary occupation of the dwellers in the area which directly affects their income and led to poverty growth in the area. Similar report by NTA (2017) indicate that more than 150 irrigation farmers using water from Musawa dam in central part of Katsina State have lost 30 million Nigerian Naira (about 85,714 US Dollars) following sudden drying up of the dam.

 Abandoning of irrigation farming

Likewise, abandoning of irrigation farming by the farmers due to water deficit in the area attracted 12% of the respondents (table 7). Due to annual increased in drying up of Njuwa lake prompted most small scale farmers in the area discarding fertile land for irrigation in the area as depicted on plates 4. Similarly, Igidi (2015) reported that water scarcity has hit Sokoto State farmers around the border town of Illela where large tracks of land are unfarmed due to the scarcity of water.

Physiological stress and low crops growth

Physiological stress and low crops growth also attributed to 10 % of the respondents to had caused negative effects due to insufficient water in the area (table 7). Rice crop is the major crop grown at Njuwa Lake which requires sufficient quantity of water for its physiological development from emergence to physiological maturity. Therefore, any form of water deficit will reflects on the crop growth and subsequently to the yield respectively.  In Katsina State, crops covering 150 hectares of tomatoes, potatoes, maize, wheat, onions and other vegetables were damaged as they became wilted forcing some farmers to commence early harvest to salvage what they could of the crops (NTA, 2017).

Loss of employment opportunities

Also 10% of the respondents agreed that loss of employment opportunities appeared among the effects cause by water scarcity at Njuwa Lake (table 7). Some farmers in the area with low income cannot be able to cope with the water shortage through digging of wells and boreholes they have no option rather than to discard the farming operation, likewise the fishermen in the area. Findings in Iraq revealed that scarcity of water had led to increased levels of unemployment (IOM; UNDP; IAU Iraq, 2011).

Livestock starvation

Livestock starvation accounted about 10 % of the total respondents due to water deficit in the area (table 7). Water reduction and drying up of Njuwa Lake is rapid before the onset of rainfall coupled with the low quality of the water, most of the livestock grazing in the area are seriously affected which imposed them moving to river Benue scavenging drinking water.  Similarly, Monitors in Muthanna have reported that, in some villages, up to 90% of livestock have died as a result of scarce and low quality water supplies(IOM; UNDP; IAU Iraq, 2011)

Drop in water table and drying of soils

Drop in water table and drying of soils surfaces also ranked among the effects of water scarcity by 10 % of the farmers (table 7). In consequence it may lead to insufficient of water required for proper crop growth. The solution to decline of water table is expense which required construction of standard boreholes with powerful machines which is beyond the financial capability of most of the farmers in the area.  Correspondingly, in a number of regions in India water tables have been falling at average rates of two to three meters per year as the number of irrigation wells grows (Mark et al.,2002). The resultant depletion of groundwater aquifers has some analysts predicting that 25 percent of India’s harvest may be at risk in the coming years (Brown 2000; Gleick 2000; Mark et al., 2002). Likewise, in the year 2016, Saddiq (2016) reported that irrigation farming is endangered in Katsina State as source of water is drying up.


Only 4 % of the respondents revealed that water logging on farmland is the result of excessive watering by some farmers in the area (table 7). Thus, Waterlogging develops when the soil becomes saturated because of a high or perched water table. It often occurs in more humid regions and is generally caused by over-irrigation or inadequate or poor drainage system and inconsequence it leads to poor plant growth due anaerobic soil conditions created. According to the report of FAO (1996) about 60–80 million hectares are affected to some extent by waterlogging and salinity on a global scale.  


Salinization also conceived by only 4 % of the farmers to have imposed by water scarcity in the area as described on table 7 respectively. Salinization can be seen as the accumulation of salts in the soil through water evaporation from the upper soil layers—can occur naturally but is generally a problem under irrigated conditions. Salinization generally leads to decreased production levels, although in some cases the problem may be severe enough to obstruct agriculture altogether. It is estimated that on a global scale there are about 20–30 million hectares of irrigated lands severely affected by salinity (Mark  et al., 2002).

Table 7. Effects of water scarcity on agricultural activities at Njuwa Lake Irrigation Farming Area

S/n Effects Frequency (n= 250) Percentage (p=100%)
1 Low crop productivity 40 16
2 Physiological stress and low crops growth 25 10
3 Loss of employment opportunities 25 10
4 Loss of fishing grounds 30 12
5 Livestock starvation 25 10
6 Loss of capital and increase in poverty 30 12
7 Abandoning of irrigation farming 30 12
8 Water logging 10 4
9 Salinization 10 4
10 Drop in water table and drying of soils 25 10

Source: Field Survey, (2020).

Coping Strategies Adopted by the Farmers towards Mitigating Water Scarcity at Njuwa Lake, Rugangye Irrigation Area

The farmers in area having experienced the gross and rapid reduction of water in the study area in the recent decades have saddled strategically in adopting different ways in order to cope with the situation for proper crop performance. Result from table 8 shows that the use of early matured crops and digging of wells by the farmers were revealed as the main coping strategies adopted by most of the farmers (20 % each ) in the area, This result agreed with findings in Iraq which revealed that most agricultural areas identified as water scarce, where many farmers have been forced to change their crops to varieties that require less water, as in Missan (100% of assessed farmers), Basra (99%) and Wassit (96%) respectively (IOM; UNDP; IAU Iraq, 2011). In addition, a study conducted by Ladan and Sule (2017) shows that shortage of water is among the constraints to agricultural development in Bakori LGA. The study reported that irrigation along the Jare river has become difficult as farmers from both Bakori and Tsiga districts had to dig deep to reach the water table to collect water for irrigation purpose. The use of low water potential crop varieties was used by 16 % of the farmers as coping techniques on the insufficient problem of water faced in the irrigation site. Other farmers (14%) migrated to near Njuwa Lake as a main source of water in the area (table 8). Igidi, (2015) reported that the water scarcity has forced some young farmers to migrate to nearby Niger Republic where the Government provides water to farmers who later pay token fees after harvest In addition, proper irrigation scheduling and frequencies 12 % and rationing of water received 10 % of the total respondents as a strategic plan to mitigate water deficit affecting the crop performances. Only 8% of the farmers adopted mulching techniques to ameliorate the existing shortage of water at Njuwa Lake as presented on table 8.

Table 8. Strategies adopted by the farmers towards coping with the scarcity of water at Njuwa Lake, Rugangye Irrigation area

S/n Coping strategies Frequency (n =250) Percentage (p=100%)
1 Use of low water potential crop varieties 40 16
2 Use of early matured crops 50 20
3 Mulching techniques 20 8
4 Proper irrigation scheduling and frequencies 30 12
5 Migration to nearby water sources 35 14
6 Rationing of water 25 10
7 Digging of wells 50 20

Source: Field Survey, (2020).


It is obvious that food production demand for the growing population is increasingly affected by declining water availability for irrigation farming particularly in the Guinea Savannah region and semi-arid of the northeast part of Nigeria. This is associated with low rainfall amount, high temperature and evaporation, poor infrastructure development, rapidly increasing populations and poor water management strategies among most of the farmers. Similarly, in Yola South North-eastern Nigeria, Rugangye irrigation area appeared as the main area where intensive and profitable farming activities are carried out due to the water resources at Njuwa Lake for over forty years. The socio-economic benefits are apparent among the farmers and the people in the area. Until in recent years, the food production and farming operation are affected by the water scarcity due to increased reduction of water quantity on Njuwa Lake which is the main source of water for irrigation practices. Thus, there are quite factors that led to water shortage in the area which include agronomic factors (frequent and excess irrigation, poor management), hydro-climatic factors (high evaporation rate low amount of rainfall and high atmospheric temperature), managerial and institutional factors (Abandoning of Chochi dam construction and linking of Njuwa Lake with River Benue), Edaphic factors (silation and sedimentation of Njuwa Lake and slope extent) and other anthropogenic factors ( livestock consumption, water pollution and fishing activities) respectively. Among the major exacerbated effects of water deficit in the area include: low crop productivity, loss of fishing grounds, abandoning of farming, loss of capital and increase in poverty etc. In an attempt to cope with the existing problem farmers adopted various techniques in mitigating the predicament through the use of early matured crops, digging of wells among others. Therefore, there is need for complementary effort to maintain water supply reliability at technical, managerial, and institutional levels to reduce water scarcity for irrigation in order to meet up food production through irrigation in the area.


 Based on the research findings obtained from this study, it therefore recommends the following in order to address the challenge posed by the increasing water scarcity for agricultural activities in the area;

  • The extension workers should intensively train the small scale farmers on effective water use and management such as frequency, scheduling, efficiency of water use, crop water requirement, water productivity etc with the aim of minimizing excess use of water by the farmers.
  • Federal government should intensify effort on completion of the Chochi irrigation project commissioned since 1998; this will sufficiently store water for agricultural activities in the area.
  • Similarly, government at all levels and related agencies should therefore compensate for the negative impact of growing water scarcity on agriculture by alternative means through promoting the diversification of farming into less water-intensive crops, and supply of modern equipment for irrigation.
  • Rejuvenation and expansion of Njuwa Lake by removing the sediments deposition and silted materials to store substantial quantity of water should also be considered by the government and also to promote the use of sediments lying in the river, as building materials to the people in the area.
  •  Formulation of agricultural research and policy efforts on improving irrigation farming for sustainable food production.    


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