Construction of the Kainji Dam and Lake

Kainji Lake and dam are located along the Niger River in eastern Nigeria. Today, the dam produces electricity for most of the country’s cities. Built between 1964 and 1968, it displaced 42,000 people. Before the construction, over 192 small settlements were situated in the area that is now Kainji Lake; 121 of them were rebuilt on higher ground (e.g., the city of New Bussa further south). In the dam’s wake, several environmental concerns have arisen: the lake is overfished, and major species of Nigerian fauna—e.g., crocodiles, sea cows, and hippos—have gone extinct. The formerly fertile flood plains have disappeared as well. Without these natural inundation areas, recurring flood events have frequently had catastrophic consequences for the local population.

Further Readings: 
  • Ashton-Jones, Nick, and Arnot, Susi. The human ecosystems of the Niger delta. Benin City: Environmental Rights Action, 1998.
  • Okonta, Ike, and Douglas, Oronto. Where Vultures feast. New York: Sierra Club Books, 2001.