It is now more than five years from the time when I started working for organizations that provide legal assistance to members of riverine communities. The riverine communities in question here are simply the communities that live along riverbanks. Over the duration of time that I have been involved in the provision of legal services to members of riverine communities, I have dealt with many issues. And over that duration of time, I have come to the conclusion that riverine communities face four major threats, that I will now proceed to enumerate.
Firstly, riverine communities are often faced with the threat of the rivers they depend on being polluted. This is a big deal, even for communities that have access to treated pipe water – and which therefore don’t depend directly on the adjacent rivers for their water needs. This is because even for such communities, the pollution of the rivers often leads to unpleasant smells, the establishment of ideal breeding grounds for various disease vectors… and so on.
Secondly, riverine communities are often faced with the threat of eviction from the riparian zones they inhabit. You have to appreciate that human settlement in riparian zones is often a controversial matter: with some people holding the rather radical view that there should be no settlements whatsoever in the riparian zones.
Thirdly, riverine communities are often faced with the twin-threats of soil erosion and flooding. Where these happen to be acts of nature, then it is alright, and nothing much can be done about it. But the reality is that flooding and soil erosion are often as a result of human activities upstream: a fact that often causes the members of riverine communities downstream a lot of grief.
Fourthly, riverine communities are often faced with the threat of the land they occupy being grabbed. Riverine land is prime land. It is attractive to grabbers. In cases where the members of riverine communities lack proper land rights documentation, then the risk of losing their land to grabbers is always very real.