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Agriculture - Nutrition | Society

Officials fear water crisis for thousands

afrol News / IRIN, 6 October - Water scarcity loomed in the northwestern Nigerian town of Gusau on Friday, six days after the dam for the reservoir supplying some 300,000 inhabitants collapsed amid heavy rains, officials said.

Nigeria's junior works minister, Yahaya Abdulkarim, who visited the area on Thursday, said the reservoir held by the Barrage Dam was the only source of treated water for the Zamfara state capital, Gusau, and its environs.

“The water left in reserve will be exhausted in a matter of hours,” he said.

Abdulkarim said he feared water scarcity would compound an already difficult humanitarian situation in the town. Thousands of people lost their homes in the flood and hundreds are still staying in temporary shelters.

Muhammadu Ruwa, the village head of the worst hit village of Birnin-Ruwa, said most of the 98 people initially missing after the disaster were later found. Three people were confirmed dead. Many displaced people remain at Birnin Ruwa's secondary school.

Apart from destroying homes, the floodwater also washed away many acres of farmland and some people have lost their entire season’s crop. Wells on which people depend for drinking water have also been polluted in the flood.

Sluice gates used to let water out of the reservoir failed to function, causing the rain to overwhelm the dam, said officials of the Zamfara Water Board, which operates the dam.

Zamfara is part of Nigeria’s relatively arid Sahel belt, which faces torrential rains between August and October, often leading to large-scale flooding.

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