In Kebbi State, nothing must have mattered to them , other than their dry season crop planting, but there is a community that is doubting how much they can make, off the planting season – Bachaka, with an estimated population of 5,000 with 1 health center, a primary and secondary school, and the community thrives on four water hand pumps.
In November 2014, Bachaka became the first of 200 communities that would benefit from the Great Green Wall (GGW) project. A project that hopes to provide 1,500km of shelter belt from Kebbi to Borno State; provide water and social projects in 200 beneficiary communities. Lurked away from the city center of Kebbi, Birnin Kebbi, and just 40km away from the Republic of Niger in Arewa Local Government Area, there seems to have been an appreciable progress in Bachaka , since the inception of the GGW, a year ago.
“We have two representatives from our community that was sent on trainings and site visits to Zinder, Niger; there has been several awareness programmes as well, especially in making an income from planting economic trees, likewise there is a Ministry of Environment representative who visit here monthly” highlighted Abubakar Maiyaki (Mai Yakin Bachaka), Deputy Head of Community in Bachaka
The 1km shelterbelt in Bachaka is thriving, and has had its forest guards and security guards in place watching over it, but there are challenges as well. “Since we started about 4 months ago, we have not been paid our salaries and that has been frustrating for us and our families, as such we urge the government to come to our plight.” complained one of the security guards.
Shelter belts projects cannot survive without the provision of orchards and nurseries, so that other trees can be planted by the community, but their is a setback for this in Bachaka.” We have written the Federal Ministry of Environment times without number, to come and fix the solar wind powered tank since it stopped working , as all the nurseries and orchards are getting dried up.
In Bachaka, two solar powered tanks were installed: One that provides water source to the shelter belt, and another one that provide water for the orchard and nursery.The latter was at first a wind powered water tank which broke down some days after it was installed, it was then replaced by a solar source which also stopped working just 3 months ago, because the pump for the water was stolen! “Farmers that rely on the broken down water source cannot plant this dry season, as their crops get dried up, just like the orchards are already drying up, the tank should be fixed as soon as possible” said Ashiru Mohammed, one of the security men in charge of the orchards.
Ashiru Mohammed was not only the security in charge of the orchards, surprisingly, he doubled as the owner of the land, and pleaded with the government to pay him is compensation for acquiring his land. Ashiru made us understand that he was only looking after the place because of the passion after one of the sensitization programme in Bachaka. Umar Musa, the Director of forestry at the Kebbi State Government affirmed some of the plights of other shelter belts in Kebbi, and was really skeptical about the success of the GGW, if their is not a new direction for the laudable project.
So why, who and how was the pump for the solar powered tank stolen, perhaps there was no guard for the orchard before now, and many times we get cases of stolen pumps when solar powered tanks are installed in rural communities, Bachaka isn’t the first and might not be the last. Despite the progress since the GGW was flagged off in Bachaka, there are too many challenges of consolidating gains with local stakeholders, thus posing a challenge to the sustainability of the GGW in Kebbi State as a whole.In the next coming months, we will be catching up on stories from Bachaka, and how the water issues will be solved to allow farmers continue their dry crop farming.