Balanga Dam: A Frog In Our Throat?

Situated at Balanga local government area of Gombe State, Balanga dam lies on latitude 10o 16’N and longitude 11o 16’E of the Greenwich meridian. It is bordered by Reme, Tula, Dong, and Junge villages respectively. It is one of the so many dams built by the Shagari administration in the early 1980s on river Gongola. It was built with the goal of providing water for irrigation practice and electricity. Currently, Balanga Dam provides water for irrigating over 1000 hectares of farmland, and more interestingly, fishing activities are taking place in the dam throughout the year. However, intermittent disruption of governance over the years stalled the progress of most of such dams across the country.

Balanga DamThe dam that is blessed with huge volumes of water stretching about 20km from the villages of Balanga, Gelengu and Reme districts, can still be put into good use provided the enabling environment is guaranteed.

Investigations reveal that the dam generates about 11 Kilowatts of electricity, which is seen to be more than the requirement of Gombe State and its neighbors, it’s excess can also be sold to other consumers in order to earn more revenue for the state.

Balanga is said to be diverse in terms of fish species abundance with up to 17 species identified during some preliminary findings. There is high fish abundance in the months of May, June through July of every year as compared to other months. The information on water quality and general well-being (condition factor) of the fish species is highly needed in order to maintain the welfare of the fishes and ascertain the general productivity of the dam.

Aside from the capability of the dam to generate electricity, it can also be turned into a tourist destination. If the beautiful mountainous landscape surrounding the dam is taken into consideration, a kind of holiday resort can be built for relaxation and tourism.

Having studied all these, Balanga dam, among other reservoirs across the country is immersed with endless challenges and problems. The agricultural potentials so far have not been judiciously harnessed, apart from the training farming during the raining season, there is no much business going on at the Balanga banks.

A peep into the global scene will ensure that the essence of constructing dams is primarily to impound and store water, wastewater or liquid borne materials for any of several reasons, such as flood control, human water supply, irrigation, livestock water supply, energy generation, containment of mine tailings, recreation, or pollution control. But in Nigeria, even though the World Bank has been rendering assistance in water supply since 1979, the national water supply policy is facing huge challenges of cost recovery for water and social equity.

The Hoover dam in the United States, for example, is believed to be one of the tallest on earth with Rising 726.4 feet, was founded in 1932. It was well managed by the US government and serves as America’s largest reservoir. The vision for America’s water policy and strategy of 2017 indicates that water is reserved to secure the world, where people have sustainable supplies of water of sufficient quantity and quality to meet human, economic, and ecosystem needs while managing risks from floods and droughts.

For these reasons and many others, water becomes more significant and a valuable resource in the developed countries. Not only in America, the grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam is the most massive project to date and at a cost of $6.4bn. The dam has the distinction of being Africa’s largest, which generates a whopping 6000MW of electrical energy.

With the lost energy and shortage of gas supply for thermal plants, high levels of unpaid electricity bills in Nigeria, why can’t the government ensure renovation of existing dams for water reservation in order to increase energy supply and other means?

Since we are yet to ensure the use of renewable energy, our water reservoir can be more beneficial for sustainability to meet up human, economic, and ecosystem needs. We therefore must shout loud to inform the authorities to do the needful, not only in Balanga, but they must revisit all water reservoirs in the country.

Our voices should sound deeper, we shouldn’t allow it to boom like a low, hoarse croak otherwise the tonsillitis makes it sound like we got a frog in my throat!

Abubakar Bello Reme 


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