Water, Water Everywhere But No Portable One To Drink As Doma People In Nasarawa Relies On Water Vendors For Survival

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The multi-billion naira Doma Dam was never a blessing to the host community as the pipes buried underground can’t give water to Doma community and can’t allow farmers to farm in the land, Rabiu Omaku writes.

Doma Dam regulates the flows of the Ohina River in Nasarawa state. It is a multi-purpose Dam with the primary purpose of irrigation farming and domestic water supply. There is domestic latent annual demand for power of around 163GWh, or close to 19MW of installed capacity in addition to commercial and industrial demand. A hydropower project in the vicinity will help in reducing dependence on costly and polluting options such as diesel generating sets. The project will boost power supply within the environs of the Day, but all the purpose were defeated as the entire environment was sodom.

The Dam is an earth filled multi-purpose dam with the primary purpose of irrigation and domestic water supply. , The Dam and reservoir have been completed. The capacity of the project is 1.0MW, and it is proposed that the waters shall be diverted from the outlet portal of the dam after modifying the morning glory-type spillway into a pressurized power intake with proper submergence,It is estimated to cost approximately US$3.82 million, with a development period scheduled over a span of 12 months and a construction period of 24 months.


Hydropower projects are typically characterized by their capital-intensive nature, long gestation periods, predictable/ dependable power generation, and the depreciating cost of power generation. These characteristics have led to governments joining hands with private participants, with varying degrees of involvement, to develop hydropower projects globally. Development of the project via the PPP mode is considered the best possible option, while the build, own, operate, transfer model is recommended as the best methodology to attract private sector technical expertise and financial resources to develop and operate the hydropower plant at the Doma Dam.

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The primary objectives of the stakeholder consultations can be outlined as follows:

  • Ensure that all stakeholders that relate to the use of the project or those that will be affected by the development of the project are identified before design work starts.
  • Bring together all the people relevant to the development, to create a common vision.

The key stakeholders in the development of the small hydropower project are the following: • Irrigation dependent farmers/ other users

  • Various government departments and agencies
  • Project area commissioner
  • Local administration • River Basin Development Authority
  • Land and Revenue department
  • Employees currently working in the Dam and trade unions, if any
  • Community organizations
  • NGOs active in the area
  • Contractors of goods and Services.


The salient features of the Doma Dam are:

  • Drainage area: 258 square kilometers
  • Type of main and saddle dams: Earthfill dams (embankment)
  • Length of the main dam: 520m
  • Length of saddle dam: 320m
  • Maximum height of the main dam: 27m
  • Maximum height of saddle dam: 8.5m
  • Crest elevation: 132m
  • Crest width 8.0m
  • Maximum width at base: 143m. On visual inspection,

The Dam appeared to be in a state of neglect and lack of maintenance of the Dam was clearly evident. Shrubs, bushes, and undergrowth could be seen everywhere, although no structural damage or seepage of any nature was noticed. No data measured by the various instruments installed at the Dam could be obtained.


The  Dam is constructed in the southern geographic location of Doma Local Government Area, in the southern senatorial district of Nasarawa state, in a distance of about 7 kilometers from the main Doma Town and not up to 50kilometers from Lafia the Nasarawa state capital of the north-central state of Nigeria. The Dam which was constructed during the administration of the second republic civilian regime of Late President Shehu Shagari and Chief Dr. Solomon Daushep Lar as the then governor of Plateau state before Nasarawa state was craft out in 1996. When contracted and eventually constructed, the development was heralded by the community of the then southern plateau and especially Doma with nostalgia which then was a relief of some sought mostly that portable drinking water importance cannot be over emphasis.


The military President, Ibrahim Badami Babangida was the first to visit Doma Dam way back 1987 and consequently General. Sani Abacha also visited the Dam with good intentions to unlock the potentials of establishing the Dam, the multi-billion naira water project was nothing rather a wastage of taxpayers money as the host community is not benefiting anything from the Dam. The first aim of providing water to Doma, its environs and the entire State was defeated as some of the water pipes have rusted with no water running on taps, the people of Doma can attest that for the past one year there is no supply of water from the 2 million cubicles of body of water wasting. The non-supply of water to the host community may not be unconnected to lack of diesel or breakdown standby power plant and no frantic effort was made by the Nasarawa State government to rectify the lapses of the power plant with the huge amount of money earmarked for water supply and maintenance in Nasarawa Eggon,Daderre in Obi Local Governments and Lafia the State capital.


A house wife from Dadinkowa in Sabon Gari ward in an exclusive interview maintained that they expended N650 weekly on the procurement of potable water from water vendors.

“We are family of four and we spend N650 weekly on the water at times especially early raining season, the vendors left to far north, where they came from and that was the precise time we either rely on rainwater or open well”.


Also Muhammed Yusuf Osabo, a family man from Angwan Kasa said he spend …  daily and ……. weekly on water or he has to buy sachet water.




Absence of tap water compelled people of the host community to take into boreholes which is now a lucrative venture as most of the boreholes are for business purposes.


But the story of it underutilization after a few years to the completion of the huge financial investment and the desire need that prompted the then federal government political will die spontaneously with the consequent of a military coup that produced Major General Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria Head of state.




Interestingly,and as a saying goes” What goes around comes around” today Muhammadu Buhari is Nigeria President in civilian administration with a strong economic proposal to diversified the Nigerian economy from a over dependent in a mono economic system, that solely relaid on Oil as it mainstay,being one agenda the Buhari administration since 2015 when it came on board has encouraged,looking inward to grow Nigeria economy beyond Oil which has served as the main source to the survival of the country,yet Doma Dam and it potentials has suffered neglect, lack of political will by the government for a marginal utility that will create wealth, as it resulted in abandonment.




Two years ago,the Minister of Water Resources,Alhaji Suleiman Adamu on a one day working visit to Launched a graduate internship scheme,he said the federal government was already working hard towards reactivating to full use of the Dam that will serve the purposes of irrigation farming that would also offer employment to over 3,000 youth of the state who will be trained and supported for agro-business.




While the intention awaits this federal government pragmatic vision for economic diversification with the volumes of water in the Doma Dam which cover over 2000 hectares of land,also has the capacity of supplying Two Million cubics of water for consumption on a daily bases for people of Doma and Lafia,can also be extended for same domestic usage to Nasarawa Eggon Local government without recourse to shortage from the source.




Investigation revealed that at the time of construction of the dam, modern facilities were laid underground purely to pump water for irrigation farming around the arable land which also covered a land mast of 200,000 hectares.






The IBB administration, nevertheless, sprang a surprise, bringing another contractor, UTC to the site for some rehabilitation. UTC provided the complete installation of the machinery needed at the engine house to pump water to farms: water pumps, panels, and generators for power supply. Pipes were laid from the dam up to Rutu, some distance from Doma. In all, 20,000 hectares of land around Doma was projected for gravity irrigation. But the administration of IBB saw to the laying of only 1,500 pipes, covering 1,600 hectares,  to make up for a part of the Phase I.  UTC engineers test ran the irrigation system, using the gravity system that was installed. But the main pumps were not used. Only the auxiliary pumps were used, records at the headquarters of Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority (LBRBDA) has shown.

The administration went ahead to commission the Phase I of the project in 1988. Between then and 1998, a couple of skeletal farming activities took place, with crops like watermelon and maize grown on a small scale. Inquiries at the headquarters of the agency showed that a onetime military governor of Benue State, Col. Idris Garba, cultivated 10 hectares of maize in Doma, using the skeletal irrigation system.

But the Phase I of the project did not stand the test of time, as the pipes began to burst because of high pressure from the gravity system, just as the usual Nigerian problem of inadequate funding hampered the general function of the project. Even the test run was done using alternate power arrangements – the three number 500kva generators with high diesel consumption. When the purse of the agency began to shrink, the generators were abandoned, culminating in the complete abandonment of the skeletal irrigation system.


Cobwebs have taken over the large room such that spiders have no space to lay new ones,the decay also includes the engineering installations as the entire premises has been overtaken by shrubs and thick grasses playing host to rodents and reptiles while the four mighty water pumps that did not supply water for barely two years stand firm in the pump house which reminds a visitor of wastage of taxpayers money by Nigerian Government.

Few meters from the pump house stands the project’s panel house, another installation for the complicated water engineering project where the small steel house is hardly visible from the thick grass and shrubs   that have sandwiched it, apart from the thick tall grasses is a thick dust which prevented one to identify the blue color of the equipment which was exposed to scorching sun and rain.

Sixteen kilometers lie there in length wasting, with water content that was initially over 35 million cubic meters,The Dam has not been put to any good use apart from fishing. But the water content must have drastically reduced because it has silted.

The dam is hardly two feet deep, and the base is obvious from sight. Water hyacinths have also taken over some part of the water with weeds encroaching deep into the body of the water.

The massive waterworks of the Nasarawa State Government called the Doma Water Supply Scheme. It is an inheritance from the old waterworks of the former Plateau State which was constructed by SCC Nigeria Limited and commissioned by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha on September 21, 1995. The staff of the water scheme and their families were busy doing their Saturday clean-up. Basins of water newly fetched from the dam stood by. They have been entering the dam to fetched water too.


The administration of Governor Aliyu Akwe Doma awarded a contract to rehabilitate the water scheme, with ongoing plans to extend water supply to neighboring towns and villages. The government showed serious commitment to this project, in spite of dwindling resources, and epileptic power supply

It was learned that Doma administration procured an additional 1000kva generator to keep steady power supply, raising the supply level from 1.5 million gallons a day, to the designed supply level of 3 million gallons per day.

The three planned projects of the Dam are

Water supply

Fishery conservation

Irrigation farming

Other opinions also revealed that lack of continuity and finances hampered the Dam project.”  started under Yahaya Attah who the then minister for water resources who awarded the Dam contract, while Hassan Mohammed was chairman of Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority at that time.


The fishery in Doma is a forgotten venture there because government at all levels failed to regulate the fishing practice, giving room for illicit fishing practices like the application of chemicals and use of dynamite to destroyed hiding places for fish and other aquatics.

Majority of fish dealers resorted to trading in pond fishes as freshwater fish are missing in Doma Dam which was depleted of harmful chemicals

Our correspondent report that Doma Dam was well situated in between hills, with offices that also built with a sense of modernity in view and staff quarters .some of the technology that was fitted includes an overflow that was well crafted in that no amount of volume of water would over flood thereby causing disaster to the surrounding communities of DOMA.

Giving his views on the Doma Dam,the Paramount ruler,His Royal Highness ,the AnDoma of DOMA,Ahmadu Aliyu Oga Onawo,said Doma Dam was a product of green revolution program established during the General Olusegun Obasanjo/ Shehu Shagari era to boost agriculture production in Nigeria and by extension to also provide employment for the teeming youths.


He said the Dam was initiated by the federal government side by side with the Bakolori Dam of Sokoto and Doma dam happened to be the bigger of the two. according to him, it has an intending capacity of two million cubics of water that doesn’t know dry season as it only increases during the raining season” But we have not had an account of the dam overflowing its capacity to inflict disaster on our people since it was constructed.


The Andoma of Doma added that the Dam has another appendage facility of a Hundred hectares in two locations as such the need of government on irrigation exhaust.

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