Irikkefe V. Dafe: River Ethiope

Irikkefe V. Dafe, River Ethiope Trust Foundation
Friday, March 1, 2013

The River Ethiope is found in the Delta State of Nigeria. The River originates from a community called Umuaja and flows through several others before joining the sea at Sapele. The River is shared by four local government councils namely Ukwuani, Ethiope East, Okpe and Sapele with an estimated population of 1.7 million people. The river is about 50km long.

River Ethiope
River Ethiope
Irikkefe V. Dafe

The River Ethiope is a river of outstanding beauty. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is home to a great biodiversity of plants and animals. The river provides ecosystem services such as flood control, climate change regulation, recreation, spiritual homage, water supply, food, research and education, medicine, building materials etc to many communities through which it passes. However, the ability of River Ethiope to continue to provide these ecosystem services to man and other living things is being seriously hampered as result of development pressure and consequences of climate change driven by poverty, ignorance and corruption.

I can recall as a child how I learn to swim, fish and seek nature adventures with my friends over thirty years ago. I can still remember how the entire community constructed a wooden bridge across the River Ethiope that took them to their farms, and how everyone would stop by in the river to bathe and fetch water when going to farm and when coming back home.

Today, all of these features are no more. I feel very bad  that what I enjoyed then as child growing up in my community, my children may not be able to enjoy today. What a faulty handing over of the baton. The way my present generation is passing the River Ethiope to next generation is definitely not the way our forefathers gave it to us thirty years ago. Within the last twenty years, the River Ethiope has lost over 50% of its original forest value to reckless human activities. Consequently, the quality of the river ecosystem services has fallen drastically to an unbelievable state.

In 1992, I set up a Foundation called River Ethiope Trust Foundation to promote sustainable development of the river, and also restore the old day’s relationships that exist between the River Ethiope and the communities around her. I am happy to announce that on the 14th and 15th of March, 2013, all stakeholders will gather to discuss on many issues concerning River Ethiope to mark the 16th Annual International Day of Action for Rivers and usher in GEF-SGP UNDP involvement in the promotion of sustainable development of River Ethiope River Ethiope is global asset that require global efforts in its restoration and protection.