Problems Of Erosion In The Rural Communities In Nigeria (A Case Study Of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria)

Project and Seminar Material for Environmental Science

Problems Of Erosion In The Rural Communities In Nigeria (A Case Study Of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria)


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

In 1979, through the instrumentality of the United Nations, a worldwide conference on environmental sustainability of which Nigeria, participated was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The conference among other things came out with a set of guiding principles on strategies for pursuit of environmentally sound and sustainable development. In spite of these global efforts and declarations, there have been reports of extensive environmental deterioration suspected to have resulted from agricultural activities in Nigeria. This is also prevalent in the south eastern States (Okoye, 2005). Majority of Nigerian’s poor are concentrated in rural areas, depending directly or indirectly on agriculture and related activities while owning or controlling few physical productive assets. Since poor households must ensure their survival, they frequently have no choice (particularly when faced with limited production base, meager capital and poor knowledge) other than to exploit and degrade their environment, especially their land resources (Batie, 1992). Poor households subsist at various levels of deprivation: faced with acute land shortage, they respond by intensifying and over-using available land space; and even when land is marginal they continue to cultivate and so progressively degrade it since they must fight hunger.

Okpala Okaka (2009), identified soil erosion as the removal of soil particles from surface of the earth, transportation and deposition of the particles by the action of wind and water. Uchegbu (2004), opined that human activities such as removal of vegetation cover, deforestation, and diversion of runoff into drainage channels, blockages of channels for housing developments, use of burrow pits for quarrying for building sands and stones and farming activities are factors that accelerated erosion in rural communities in Nigeria, most especially, in the eastern part of Nigeria. Nwafor (2006), stated that soil erosion involves the systematic removal and transport of soil, including nutrients, from soil surface by various agents of denudation particularly water, wind and by earth movement. That problem of soil erosion arises when anthropogenic i.e human activities speed up the process, resulting in accelerated soil erosion. Morgan, (2006), identified physical factors influencing soil erosion to include rainfall, wind speed, use and management of soil, topography and their properties. Soil Erosion occurs when soil is removed through the action of wind and water at a greater rate than it is formed. Soil is seriously impacted upon or disturbed when rain falls on any part that is not protected by vegetation cover and where there are no roots to bind the soil together. Loosened soil particles are liable to be washed down from sloppy land and either end up in valley or are washed away out to the sea by streams and rivers. Once top soil is removed first by erosion action, the nutrient rich layer clears away, reducing plant growth in the process.

Erosion usually starts off with the relatively uniform removal of the soil surface by excess runoff aided by steep sloping topography, soil/rock types, removal of vegetative cover and poorly designed construction works. With time it becomes concentrated, forming channels and rills and if not properly checked, progresses into the monstrous gullies we find scattered all over the study area and other parts of the south eastern region of Nigeria. Controlling the development of gullies has continued prove a very hard nut to crack as the monster has continued to defy attempts aimed at containing it from progressing and destroying more useful land and properties, and sometimes human lives. There are cases where dams, embankments, culverts and other engineering construction works as well as trees planted to check the development of gullies are carried away by the action of the gullies and used as tools to further wreck havoc on the soils and rocks within the area. This calls for a systematic approach to the control of gully erosion in Anambra State which will integrate and take into consideration causative factors responsible for the development of the environmental menace.

The available literatures on the subject reveal that this challenge is more common in the eastern half of the country as compared to the western half. South-eastern part of Nigeria is more affected than its northern counterpart. Anambra State is the most affected of all the states in Nigeria where Nanka and Oko communities of the state are the worst hit. Therefore, this study tends to focus on problems of erosion in the rural communities by using Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria. There is obviously, a need to investigate the issue of effects of erosion on the people in this local government area in this context, because this has been a major concern for the farmers as well as the inhabitants of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State and has been hindering the productivity of the inhabitants of this area.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The causative agents of erosion in Anambra State are both geologic and anthropogenic. Natural erosion occurs primarily due to geologic timescale (Erosion Process, 2008). Anthropogenic forces (human activities) include; deforestation, unsustainable farming practice, laterite mining, poorly constructed drainage system, path and road construction. Soil erodibility depends to an extent on; soil texture, soil structure, soil permeability and amount of organic matter. Erosion is seen as one of the numerous surface processes that sculpture the earth’s surface and brings about one of the global environmental challenges. Soil erosion is perhaps the most serious way of land degradation in the tropics. However, gully is visually the most impressive of all types of erosion. Gully erosion is a well-defined water worn channel. As a result of rampant gully erosion in the south eastern region of the country, the region has therefore brought more attention of countless researchers to unravel the causes of gully erosion.

Ezechi and Okagbue (1989) revealed that the nature of the underlying bed (or geology) has a bearing effect on the initiation and propagation of erosion. Observations have also shown that erosion, in Nigeria, is more predominant in the sedimentary terrains and perhaps in the basement/sediment contact areas. This accounts for why its occurrences is more skewed to the south-eastern Nigeria where most of the gullies take the advantage of the loosely consolidated and sometimes friable rocks such as the Ajali Sandstone in Auchi area of Edo State of Nigeria. The causes of erosion with respect to the geologic settings are numerous. The identified natural causes of erosion globally, include tectonism and uplift, climatic factors, geotechnical properties of soil, and so on. Anthropogenic causes include farming and uncontrolled grazing practices, deforestation, and mining activities.

Through the use of direct observations, short informal interviews, and informal discussions among the study team and soil erosion experts, it was discovered that there is a general lack of awareness of the human factors that contribute to the development of gullies in the communities where the study took place. It was determined that there is great opportunity to adapt small scale, low technology land management practices in order to prevent erosion and the development of gullies through community based approaches and public awareness programs. However, it is recommended that equipping and shifting responsibility towards the community would enhance erosion control efforts.

Prevention as they say is better than cure. Therefore, prevention of the mechanisms that bring about gully erosion should be of utmost importance to all the stakeholders in environmental management in the country. Osadebe and Enuvie (2008) suggested that organic carbon, chemical properties, textural features and moisture content of the soil are the most useful factors to be considered in a detailed survey and control of gully erosion in any environment. Hence, these factors and others must be critically investigated in the erosion-prone regions of the country in order to better design preventive measures. Therefore this study on problems of erosion in the rural communities in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria shall shed more light on the economic and physical effects of erosion on the people in this area and as well investigate the different strategies adopted by these people to adapt to the menace of climate change on erosion in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main aim of this study is to investigate the problems of erosion in the rural communities by using Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria as a case study.

The specific objectives are:

  1. To identify the effect of erosion on the people of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State
  2. To study the strategies adopted by the people of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State to adapt to the menace of erosion
  3. To investigate the prevalence of erosion among the people of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State

1.4 Research Questions

The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:

  1. What are the effects of erosion on the people of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State?
  2. What are the strategies adopted by the people of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State to adapt to the menace of erosion?
  3. What is prevalence of erosion among the people of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The findings from this study are expected to be of value to the following educational stakeholders:

Researchers:

The issues raised in this study are likely to lead to the involvement of various researchers in generating more knowledge from various perspectives. The findings of this study could form a basis for further research to those interested in transfer of head teachers or teachers among secondary schools.

Researcher student:

The study will help the researcher to understand deeply the major consequences of all forms of erosion and will suggest in recommendations, ways of such effects and in the long run the researcher could be consulted on effect of climate change on gully erosion since he will have vast knowledge in the aspect.


1.6 Scope of the Study

This study focuses on the problems of erosion in the rural communities by using Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria as a case study. Therefore, the study will will be carried out in the rural areas of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State.


1.9 Limitations of the Study

The Major Limitations of the study are:

Cost Limitation:

There was a cost limitation. This means that the researcher could not offer any gift or monetary incentives for the respondents to answer the questionnaire. This might have resulted in certain prospective respondents choosing not to respond to the questionnaire. This might not have created a motivation among respondents not to take a chance to give opinions.


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