Droughts in the Sudano-Sahelian Ecological Zone of Nigeria: Implications for Agriculture and Water Resources Development

Global Journal of Human Social Science (B): Geography, Geo-Sciences & Environmental 01/2013; 13(2):1-11.


This study evaluates the extent and degree of severity of droughts in the Sudano-Sahelian Ecological Zone of Nigeria using rainfall data spanning a period of 60 years (1949-2008) for eight meteorological stations in the zone. The Normalized Rainfall Index was used in depicting periods of different drought intensities in the region. The results revealed that the zone was characterized by larger extent of severe drought since the beginning of 1968 through the early 1970s, and then the 1980s in which the drought was so severe than any other decade in the study period. The late 1990s and the 2000s on the other hand have been witnessing a decrease in the number of drought occurrences in the zone. The mean absolute probability of mild, moderate and severe droughts for the zone was 0.13 (recurrence interval of 7.7 years), 0.11 (recurrence interval of 9.1 years), and 0.08 (recurrence interval of 12.5 years) respectively. The implications for agriculture and water resources include: reduction in weight and increased deaths of livestock, food shortages, and soil depletion, the existence of few rivers and streams, and the lowering of the water table. The study recommends the adoption of better herds management practices to include: the reduction in herd numbers, strategic weaning of calves, herd segregation, and parasite control. The establishment and improvement of early warning systems, analysis of observed climatic data, the establishment of Drought and Flood Research Centers in all the universities of the zone among others were the mitigating measures recommended.

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Available from: I.B. Abaje, Oct 04, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines the recent trends and fluctuations in the rainfall regime of the Sudano-Sahelian Ecological Zone of Nigeria in order to discuss the risks and opportunities involve. Rainfall data (1949-2008) for eight meteorological stations were used for this analysis. In order to identify trends, the rainfall series was sub-divided into 30-year overlapping sub-periods (1949-1978, 1959-1988, 1969-1998 and 1979-2008) and the Cramer’s (tk) test was then used to compare the means of the sub-periods with the mean of the whole record period. The results of the test revealed that there was a change towards wetter conditions in the last 30-year period. The student’s t-test, td, was also used to examine the temporal changes in the rainfall series between the two non-overlapping sub-periods (1949-1978 and 1979-2008) and the result shows that Nguru and Katsina were significantly drier than the long-term mean. The 10-year running mean shows that annual rainfall for all the stations were below the long-term mean from the late 1960s to the early 1990s and above-average afterwards. The results of the linear trend lines revealed an increase in rainfall supply over the period of study. Some of the implications of these findings are that models built on the perceived decreasing rainfall, such as drainages, dams, have to be reviewed. On the other hand, farmers would take the advantage of the long growing seasons by the adoption of multiple cropping systems. It is recommended that government policies related to agriculture and water resources development should take into account the risks and opportunities associated with increasing wet conditions in the Sudano-Sahelian Ecological Zone of Nigeria.