Anxiety As Katsina Residents Expects First Rains.

While rains have returned to other parts of Nigeria, residents of Katsina still anxiously awaits the return of first rain.

A visit to Katsina state (especially for first-timers) gives the picture of a typical savannah zone. Whereas the rains have returned in most parts of the country this year, Katsina residents are still waiting for their return. national accords findings revealed that, while they wait for the first rains continue in Katsina, some of the residents are scared as to what would happen when the rains finally return. Recounting the experience with last year's first rains, one of the residents, Hajiya Adama Bakori of the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) said after a long period of waiting, the first rain last year left a sour taste as no fewer than eight persons were killed and about 100 families rendered homeless by flood which followed the downpour. 

Describing last year's first rainfall which lasted for three hours causing several houses to collapse in the metropolis, a Project Officer with Save the Children (a UK-funded NGO) in Katsina, Luter Orkar said The areas most affected by the flood last year were; Kofar Kaura, Sabuwar Unguwa, Kofar Marusa, Kofar Durbin, Kofar Sauri, Rafukka and Tudun Yanlifidda. He confirmed that the flood killed eight persons, including children in the Layin Zana area of Kofar Marusa ward and Rafukka. Alhaji Hussaini Ahmed, Director of the states department of environment also confirmed last year's deaths and the destruction. He however attributed the flood to indiscriminate dumping of refuse and inadequate drainages, especially in the Layin Zana area. In a situation he said the state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Shema has taken proactive steps to bring it under control. 

Meanwhile, as they wait for the first rain continues, Katsina residents are faced with scorching sun and severe heat, capable of throwing a first-timer in Katsina in a dilemma of either going back or staying to endure the situation which some describe as being only for a season, as the first-timer would soon adapt to, as the rain would soon come. The first rain in Nigeria North West Katsina state is usually expected between April and May, covering an area of 23,938sq.km and located between latitude 11008N and 13022N and longitude 6052E and 9020E, Katsina state is bounded by the Niger Republic to the North, by Jigawa and Kano states to the east, by Kaduna state to the south and Zamfara state to the west. 

The state forms part of the extensive plains known as the high plains of Hausaland and is composed of Undulating plains which generally rise gently from 360m in the northeast around Daura to 600m around Funtua in the southwest. Generally, the state has two geological regions; The south and central parts of the state and underlain by crystalline rocks of the Basement complex (from Funtua to Dutsin-Ma) but in the northern parts, cretaceous sediments overlap the crystalline rocks. 

The Katsina Daura plains lie at a lower base level than other parts of the state. Southwards of the Katsina Daura plains, is the flat to gently undulating surface which is the end result of years of erosion on the surface rocks. In areas around Funtua and Dutsin-Ma, there are numerous Quartzatic and granitic hills that rise 60200m above the surrounding plains. These lies are probably the result of the intrusion of older granites into the basement complex which has undergone long periods of denudation (Buchman and Pugh 1955).

Major rivers like the Koza, Sabke, Tagwai, and Gada have either originated or traversed the state all flowing either north or northwestwards. Rivers in the south include the Karaduwa, Bansuru, Gagare, Turami, Sokoto, Tubo, Chalawa, and Galama which flow either northwest, southeast, or east. All these river systems however contain water in their channels only during the rainy seasons and have little or no water in the dry season. Among them, rivers Gada, Karaduwa, and Sabke have been dammed mainly for irrigation purposes and the dams are known as Jibia, Zobe, and Daberam dams respectively. 

With the classification of its climate into two zones; climatically tropical continental and semi-arid continental, Katsina state has an annual rainfall figure ranging from 1000mm around Funtua to over 800mm around Dutsin-Ma. From around Kankia to the extreme northeast part of the north of Katsina state, the total rainfall figure range from 600-700mm annually. Generally, the climate varies considerably according to months and seasons. 

The cool dry (harmattan) season from December to February is usually followed by a hot dry season from March to May while a warm west season from June to September and a less marked season after rains during October to November, characterized by decreasing rainfall and a gradual lowering of temperature. 

Underlying rocks are overlain by sandy drift deposits laid down during the last arid phase about twelve thousand years ago in Katsina state. The southern part of the state is characterized by covering materials which are largely clay soil about five meters in-depth and very fine in texture. 

The souls are difficult to work, tending to become waterlogged with heavy rains and to dry out and crack during the dry season. The characteristic crop of this area includes cotton, maize, and guinea corn. With the vegetation of the southern half of the state belonging to the Sudan savannah zone, the vegetation in the state can be said to vary while the south consists of broadleaved species with tall tussocky grasses of guinea affinities, mixed up with fine-leaved species of thorny trees with continuous short and feathery grass cover, the northern districts consist of tree that grows long, tap roots and thick barks that make it possible for them to withstand the long dry season and bush fires. The grass cover here too has durable roots which remain underground after stalks are burnt away or wilted in the dry season only to germinate with the first rains. 

The existing vegetation in Katsina state is a function of many years of human interference and degradation. The exploitation of the vegetation has been largely for fuel wood, cultivation, grazing, and fire. This degradation has been exacerbated in recent years as a result of decreasing rainfall since 1965 by about 30% and especially after the drought of the early 1970s. Wood is scarce in the state as only 12% of the total area is forested. Furthermore, most of the plantations, woodlots, shelter belts, and trees are on farmland. Trees planted under the program, which was supported by the European Economic Commission (ECC) and the federal government include Azadirachta Indica (Neem), Acadia species, and eucalyptus. Seedlings, Cattlewire fencing, and Extension Services are also provided free to farmers in the northern part of the state. 

The state suffers from the perennial ecological problems of drought, desertification, and the menace of pest invasion. These are experienced mostly in the northern part of the state. The market fall in the level of underground water has also compounded the problem of sustaining the ecological balance in some parts of the state. Soil erosion is also experienced particularly at the northern fringes which are under the threat of wind erosion as a result of desert encroachment. Gully erosion is also present in Kayauki (Batagarawa LGA), Kura and Gurbin Baure (Jibia LGA) and Dan Rimi (Malumfashi LGA). 

Draught is modest of drier climatic change which manifested itself conspicuously in the early 1970s as a result of the decline of mean annual rainfall in the northernmost states of Nigeria since 1965. Desertification, on the other hand, thought partly accounted for by drier climatic conditions, is largely a result of man's devastation of the vegetation for various reasons leading to soil degradation and desert encroachment. The increasing menace of pest invasion is probably due to this climate change, and desertification, which have brought about continuously favorable to the breeding of pests. Thorough ground geophysics is required to determine the cause of underground water inaccessibility in parts of the state and explore easily procurable underground water spots. 

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