Arochukwu is blessed with many rivers and streams. Also there is more than enough rainfall each year which in turn enriches the underground water table making other sources of water such as well and borehole sustainable. However, when looked critically most of the “Iyi-varas” that run through some of the villages which border the Nkana/Itu river basin are just one singular river. It enters Aro territory through the Ihechiowa/Amuvi axis at Iyi Ochanta running through Edemkpuke, Mkpu-mpkuoba and continues to Iyi-agwu-Asaga, IyiukwuAtani up to Anyim Amaasu etc.
Over the years the river has remained a dependable source of water supply,sea-foods and recreation to Aro people. But like most other things held in common in Aro,the river has suffered great neglect, misuseand mismanagement as a result of pollution, inundation of sludge on the river bed, lack of dredging or removal of fallen trees and tree branches leading to blockage and inhibition of smooth flow of the river at various points. As a result of these, where the river was hitherto wide,deep and fresh it has narrowed greatly becoming shallow,polluted and cases stagnate.
Fresh water supply sources such as rivers and streams should be consciously nurtured and cared for in other to sustain the flora and fauna that depend on them for survival. Human beings who are the greater beneficiaries of such natural resources must take steps to protect them for their overall well-being. For instance, the community can enforce rules meant for the proper usage of such vital water sources. Use of harmful substances such as gamoline 20 in fishing should be prohibited and where there are violations, sanctions must be put in place to deter future perpetrators.
Tree trunks and branches which inhibit easy flow of rivers and streams can be cleared by the community just as the river banks can be made more accessible and attractive. When sludge; dead tree trunks and leaves which fall and accumulate on the river bed remain un-cleared due to communal negligence, the consequence is that the river flow slows down leading to stagnation and breeding of mosquitoes, tse-tse fly and other vectors which exert heavy
toll on the health of the people.
Dry Season Farming:
If the rivers and streams in Aro could be properly managed and used, there should be no reason why there would not be improved Agricultural practices. Dry season farming and cultivation of food crops such as maize,rice,yam, potatoes, tomatoes, cassava, okro and other vegetables would be greatly enhanced. Small scale fish farming businesses can flourish by the side of the river or community wide fish farming practices can be encouraged by all the villages sharing the river through the introduction of fingerlings which upon maturity can be harvested in an organized ceremony perhaps to go with the Ikeji festival.Argungu in Kebbi state is popular as a result of its annual fishing festival.It is possible because fishing is prohibited in their lake until the appointed day of the festival. With the high prices of meat and fish in Arochukwu anything that can increase the protein content in the staple food supply of the community must be encouraged.
Industrial Pollution and Underground Water:
It is very easy for the uninformed to conclude that Arochukwu is not susceptible to industrial pollution since there is hardly any industrial activity. However, when you take into consideration the hundreds of in-ground burials each year in Aro and the quantity of industrial and preservative chemicals such as formaldehyde which ultimately end up in the underground water, it becomes pertinent that more environmentally friendly and sustainable ways be urgently found. With land spaces becoming increasingly limited and overcrowded, perhaps a new generation that is less conservative could emerge who may be willing to explore the possibilities of non-traditional burial methods, that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
In summary, rivers, streams and underground water systems must be protected and cared for just like other communal resources. Neglecting them only makes them unhealthy, unsustainable and polluted sources of water. Consequently,do not pour concrete or cement into the communal river or stream. Do not pour chemicals,used motor oil, grease and other hazardous substances into the river. Do not wash motor-cycles, cars and generators directly in the river, as sludge; used oil and other dangerous substances flow into the river. Do not defecate into or close to the river or stream as that practice helps in spreading typhoid fever and other harmful water borne diseases.
Funeral parlors, hospitals and clinics should not empty medical wastes into rivers and streams. Rivers and streams should be well protected and policed like ancestral lands to ensure they are not abused, mistreated or dammed off for private uses. Just like the river, the bore holes provided by government through the NDDC should be well taken care of- a situation where broken down stop cocks and taps are not quickly replaced by the communities enjoying such facilities only leads to unnecessary wastage of water.
Moreover, in spite of the drilling of well and bore-holes by government and individuals alike, rivers and streams still have their place as natural sources of fresh water, food, natural barriers and communal pride and heritage. The aphorism that “water is life” assumes a new meaning and essence when one beholds the communal river and streams in all their natural beauty and splendor surging with aquatic life and sustaining human life across generations. Thus,it is only fitting that we treat them with gratitude and care.