Importance of River Basins in Nigeria 

In Nigeria, eight major river basins consisting of Benue, Delta, and Cross Rivers, the Imo-Anambra, Hadeijia-Chad, Sokoto-Rime, Niger, Owena, and Ogun, and Osun basins drain over eighty major rivers in the country. These river basins are vital elements of the ecosystem and are important for agriculture, transportation, flood control, and sustenance of man, among other things. This article will discuss how river basins are important in Nigeria.    

Importance of River Basins in Nigeria 

The importance of river basins in Nigeria will be discussed below: 

  • Provision of Water for Human Use 

River basins have served as sources of water for human consumption for thousands of years. In Nigeria, coastal communities usually rely on water from river basins for drinking, washing, and providing water for their livestock. Asides from the exploitation of the surface water for the aforementioned purposes, underground water is also of great importance for community water supply needs in Nigeria. Underground water is being exploited in big cities for both domestic and industrial uses. 

  • Flood Protection Capacity 

An important role that river basins in Nigeria play is their capacity to control erosion. In times of heavy rainfall when the volume of rainfall is much, river basins help mitigate against flooding as a large amount of water runoff from a given area is collected and absorbed by the flood plains. This thereby serves as a natural means of flood control for coastal communities and in turn prevents the loss of lives and the damage of properties worth billions of Naira.

  • Massive Irrigation Potentials to Improve Agricultural Output

The various river basins in Nigeria have massive potential for irrigation purposes. The River Basin Development Authorities put the irrigation potential of the surface runoff of major rivers in Nigeria at over 3.14 million hectares, however, about 100,000 hectares are currently developed. So, areas of land that benefit from the irrigation supply of the major rivers and their tributaries enjoy uninterrupted crop yields which increase income for the farmer, create employment, and contribute to national economic growth.  

  • Hydroelectric Power Provision 

River basins contribute to electric power generation in Nigeria. The dams in Nigeria that are responsible for electricity generation are usually constructed along a waterfall in a river system. Kainji, Jebba, and I.I.T.A reservoirs are some of the dams in Nigeria with hydroelectric functions. Across Nigeria, many of the major rivers are yet to be exploited for their hydroelectric power generating capacities. 

  •  Provision of Recreational Opportunities 

Another importance of river basins Is that they offer a range of recreational opportunities for people when they pay a visit. People may choose to swim, go on a canoe ride, or drop in a line to catch fish, among other activities when they go to rivers. In addition to water sports, people may partake in several other recreational activities on beaches and resorts that are sometimes found along river basins.  

  • Means of Transportation 

In Nigeria, water transportation takes the second spot as the widely used mode of transportation in the country. With over eighty major rivers in Nigeria, a huge number of people rely on rivers to travel and navigate from one place to another, especially in the riverine parts of the country. Also, agricultural products are transported across water bodies In several parts of the country.  

  • Source of Nutrient-rich Food 

River basins serve as a good source of food for both man and livestock. In Nigeria, a huge portion of aquatic foods consisting of finfish, crustaceans, mollusks, palatable aquatic plants, and algae are harvested from the rivers and other water bodies in the country. These aquatic foods are rich in nutrients including Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, several minerals, and vitamins, which help prevent certain diseases such as cardiovascular disorders.  Also, livestock benefit from river basins in several ways. For example, fish meal and fish oils gotten from 

  • Source of Resources for Building and Construction 

River basins have been exploited for white sand and gravel which are major materials used in building and construction projects. White sand naturally occurs in and around river basins and as such various river basins such as the one in Onitsha along the Niger River have been long exploited to meet the increasing demand in the construction industry. However, the sand budget of each river basin should determine the level of exploitation, else excessive sand mining will have adverse consequences on the body of water and the surrounding environment. 

  • Serves as Habitat for Aquatic Organisms

River basins are home to abundant aquatic species such as fish, crustaceans, algae, plants, and wildlife and are essential to the survival of these species. Different parts of a river system provide different habitats for the aquatic species that live within it. These aquatic species can be found in river beds, river banks, and floodplains. For example, juvenile fish are usually found in the floodplains which are well suited for them to grow and feed until they can continue their life cycle in the river. 

  • Accumulation of Fossil Information 

River basins serve as a good reserve of fossil evidence of prehistoric plants and animal species that had once inhabited the river system. Scientists can gather valuable information about the evolutionary relationships of these organisms, understand how the earth has changed, and locate fossil fuel reserves.

  • Supports Oceanic Recharge

A major importance of river basins in Nigeria, and other parts of the world, is the role they play in recharging the ocean system. River basins are responsible for supplying oceans with fresh water. In Nigeria, more than three-quarters of river basins drain into the Atlantic ocean. This process of ocean recharge allows for the sufficient functioning of oceans in performing its multiple roles such as climate regulation, navigation, power generation, power generation, shipping, and international trade. Oceans also serve as habitats for thousands of species. 

Oceans have been exploited by man throughout history. As principal components of the earth’s hydrosphere, oceans are integral to the sustenance of life on the planet. Oceans perform functions of climate regulation, navigation and exploration, recreation, food production, naval warfare, power generation, travel, shipping, and trade. 


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