Cut off by flood, Sokoto community turns ‘island’
Flooding has cut off some communities from other parts of the state in a devastating around Hushi, Sokoto State.
Hushi, a renowned farming and fishing community, has turned ‘island,’ where the major link-way, Hushi-Wurno road, collapsed at three remote points following heavy downpours and massive flooding.
Among other hard-hit communities include Wurno town, Gidan Modi, Gidan Kamba, Gidan Bango, Kwargaba, Dabagin Yari, Dabagin Busau.
The destruction impelled three canoe ferrying areas on the route, with travellers having to change canoes at each end.
The majority of the travelers expressed worry and fear as there were no life jackets for them, especially as the small vessel got to the exact spot where another canoe had capsized, killing 17 people a week back.
Though the first two canoe trips were rather short, the journey in the third canoe was longer, and the canoe started to take on much water. Thankfully, one of the passengers volunteered to use a plastic container to scoop the water out to reduce the potential risk.
Also, the canoe paddler had to continually request the passengers to adjust their sitting positions so that the canoe would maintain balance for safety.
A survivor of the recent boat accident, Malam Usman, was in this canoe and had some positive declaration. “This canoe paddler is very proficient at the task, unlike some others. His handling of this vessel is masterly. I deliberately waited to board this canoe.”
Another co-traveller, Abdullahi Aminu, said: “This was a risky trip. The journey was fraught with dangers, anything could have happened, but we thank God we arrived safely.”
However, the trip did not end there. There was about 4km distance left to Huchi-Wurno road, which all travellers had to cover on foot. And as you walk through the village streets, what is most striking is how several Hushi residents who should have been active in the viable venture were taking shelter under several shades.
About 70 per cent of the economic and social activities in the community have been badly affected by the damaged road, the village head of Huchi (Dan Galadima) Alhaji Abubakar Ardo, voiced out.
He added that FADAMA farming, the community’s mainstay, had been badly hit with thousands of acres submerged by flood, making people lose their crops.
“Hushi residents now stay at home and while away their time discussing as they count their losses,” said the Ardo.
“Before the road cut off, five to six truckloads of onion or garlic did leave Huchi village for eastern or western parts of Nigeria through Wurno as buyers keep farmers on their toes to meet up with demand. But now, that has been adversely affected.”
Women had their share. For instance, over 300 of them mostly widows and elderly whose sources of sustenance is working on other people’s farms, are also staying idle and without any money to feed.
Zarau Aliyu 45, explained: “We engaged in threshing dried paddies or removing wild grasses on rice fields to facilitate rapid growth of the plant and earn N500-N700 daily, depending on the kind of service offered. But all these are at a standstill after the flood overtook the entire area and ruined our road.”
Zarau, who has eight family members to feed, lives on charity to survive. “We solicit for help from male relations,” she claimed.
At the time of the visit to the area, the flooding appeared not abated.
“I looked helplessly as flood overran my entire seven fields,” a 52-year-old resident, Alhaji Chiso Huchi, lamented. “I could not salvage anything from the acres that I spent N500,000 to grow rice, guinea corn and millet.”
He said the rice acre was to produce 30 sacks at N19,000-N20,000 per bag, while from the millet field, he expected at least 300 bundles. But all that vanished.
The local government sole administrator was said to have provided empty sacks and tippers of gravel to the community to stop the water from causing much damage, but residents said when the level of water increased, the effort proved abortive.
“The flood damaged our only link to the outside world. The consequences are devastating as the flood crippled everything regarding our lives,” a resident, Ali Yusuf, bemoaned.
Many are wondering when the World Bank-assisted project, Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Programme (NEWMAP), would address challenges of environmental degradation in the state.
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