The following document is an extract from the Communiqué
of the Typha Roundtable Organised by the DFID-JWL project in
Hadejia, on Tuesday 17 June, 2003. It explores the nature,
occurrence and various methods of control of typha grass –
and their suitability or otherwise. It also highlights the
measures that the project and its stakeholders are promoting
for controlling the spread of the weed in the Hadejia-Nguru
Typha spp or ‘cattail’ grass is a species of water
loving plant that can, under favourable conditions (i.e. in
shallow permanently inundated areas), proliferate and become
difficult to control, making the plant an invasive species.
Under such conditions it out-competes almost all other
plants. In the Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands in particular, and
other parts of the Hadejia-Jama’are-Komadugu-Yobe Basin (HJKYB)
in general, the invasion by Typha spp or Kachala
(in Hausa) has, for the past seven years or so, constituted
one of the most alarming threats to the ecology and economy
of the area. In recent years, river channels, lakes and
fadamas in the wetlands have been taken over by Typha,
along with many hectares of farmland and potential grazing
lands. On the Marma Channel and Nguru Lake for example,
where Typha invasion is more severe, over two thirds
of potential farming and grazing lands have been taken over
by the plant. Conversely, it has also contributed to the
desiccation of the Burum Gana channel, where about 60% of
dry season irrigation farms are wasting. In addition, the
grass provides a harbour for large flocks of quelea birds
that seasonally destroy cereal crops.
This problem of Typha invasion has over the years
become a serious concern to the local communities and to
traditional authorities, government institutions and line
agencies with a responsibility for enhancing the livelihoods
of people living in the affected areas. Repeated efforts,
ecological studies and manual clearing have yielded very
little results in the past.
It is in the light of this escalating problem, growing
concern of line agencies and urgent need to find a lasting
solution to the menace of Typha, that the State Ministries
of Agriculture, Environment, Water Resources, ADP’s and
EPA’s in Bauchi, Jigawa and Yobe States have requested the
DFID-JWL Project to assist them in their efforts to control
Typha grass in the Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands in
particular and in the Komadugu-Yobe Basin in general.
As a first step in the search for a solution to the
problem of Typha invasion, a ‘Roundtable on Typha
Invasion and Possible Control Measures’ was organized to
bring together at least 20 representatives of the line
institutions and agencies concerned, with national &
international experts and staff of DFID-JWL project, on
Tuesday 17th June 2003 in Hadejia.
The objective of the roundtable was to enable resources
users, decision makers and experts to chart a course for
controlling the menace of Typha invasion in the KYB,
based on a shared understanding of its causes, impacts,
characteristics, the scope of the challenge, experiences in
controlling it, and intervention options available.
The participants brainstormed and arrived at a common
understanding of the following:
Regarding the origin, distribution and types of Typha
From records in the Flora of West Tropical Africa
(Hutchison and Dalzul, 1952 – 1972), Typha is
probably not an exotic species to Nigeria.
It is found from Lagos to Lake Chad, and from
Calabar to Sokoto River Basin
There is probably only one specie found in
Nigeria: Typha australis or domigensis
Typha australis is found throughout West
Africa, African continent and all other tropical and
sub tropical parts of the world.
The Typha genus is found on every continent with
the exception of Antarctica.
Regarding its characteristics and impacts:
It reproduces sexually (through seeds) for large
area of colonization.
It also reproduces asexually (through the rhyzome)
for denser coverage within the immediate area.
It takes oxygen into its roots and new shoots
from above the water level through the leaves (fresh
air into new leaves/expired air out of old leaves)
General hydrological impacts include: blockage of
river channels, which reduces and diverts river
flow, increases siltation and over flooding of
farmlands and settlements; invasion of flood land
farms, extends river banks with the river reducing
width of channels
Other general impacts include: provision of
habitat for fresh water snails and mosquitoes, etc,
which leads to increases in diseases like bilharzias
(humans) and liver fluke (livestock) and malaria;
crop damage from birds.
Impacts specific to the wetlands include quelea
birds infestation; potash intrusion; out migration
of local communities; and increased water loss
through evapo-transpiration (3 X higher)
To date, no economically/ecologically viable use
of typha has been found: the implications of
utilisation/harvesting are mostly negative in terms
of local socio-economy, hydrology and ecology. This
method of control accepts/promotes the negative
causes and impacts (outlined above) of typha
invasion, compounding the problem of poor water
management, and can encourage dispersal of the
plant. In areas where typha invasion is severe, such
a method is considered highly insensitive and
inappropriate to the needs of the local population.
Regarding biological and chemical control:
Biological control: the only known
biological control (i.e. Chinese carp – a species of
fish that grazes Typha) is ineffective
Chemical control: no herbicide exists that
is specific to Typha; therefore large scale
control of Typha is NOT RECOMMENDED, but
localized small scale control with 2,4 D and
Round-up to kill the root system in drained and dry
conditions may yield some results.
Regarding physical control:
Using fire encourages vegetative re-growth while
standing in water; it can be effective if repeated
and there is intensive burning of stem and roots
after drainage of water (i.e. on dry soil); burning
of the roots is the most critical step.
Hand cutting: again, encourages vegetative
re-growth if cut above the water level; when cutting
under water level, critical time to cut is when
Typha is at the flowering stage, i.e. before
dispersing seeds and when the root system has least
energy available for re-growth.
Shading, through planting trees along cleared
areas or covering up irrigation channels: prevents
re-growth as Typha needs high light
intensities to germinate. Method suitable for
irrigation channels and alongside shores.
Regarding mechanical control:
Use of mowing boats: very expensive, very slow
and needs to be repeated continuously (only
efficient for large scale irrigation canal
Use of floating excavator: has limitations of
where it can float and needs side by side
accessories for packing debris
Use of suction dredger: again, very expensive,
very slow and only suitable for dredging large scale
Regarding water level management:
Short term measures: mechanical/physical Typha
control is recommended in conjunction with water
level management in both the short term and the long
term; draining of large scale irrigation channels
(where water levels can be controlled) and
burning/cutting of Typha when dry, and
sensitizing riparian communities against use of
incorrect control methods (i.e. burning or cutting
above the water level) that propagate Typha;
sensitizing people on the effect of shading and
raising community awareness on health/diseases
impacts of Typha and on local action they can
take, are all envisaged to be promising.
Long term measures: again, water management
upstream, in conjunction with draining, burning and
cutting and at least one meter deep re-flooding of
Typha infected areas (repeated 2 – 3 years),
was agreed to hold promises.
Participants Noted the Following
Regarding technical options:
Specific to the hydrology of the KY Basin and the HN
wetlands, integration of mechanical/physical control of
Typha with water management generally, needs to be
tackled in stages.
Stage 1: Priority needs to be given to
opening up of the existing water channels in the
wetlands to increase flow rates and reduce
Stage 2: Structural changes are required
in the river system in the form of control
mechanisms to distribute water more evenly along
different channels (naturally by river
Stage 3: Management of dam releases
integrated into mechanical control of Typha
through dyke building, drainage, burning and
cutting and re-flooding.
Regarding institutional options:
The process of getting funds released to attempt the
Option 1: Through high level meeting of
Permanent Secretaries and Commissioners in each
of the concerned states, to come up with a
single memo to present to the Governors of each
state to take collectively or through a single
Governor to the Presidency. (i.e. following ‘due
The problems identified with this option
are that it is too slow, requires so many stages
of due process and rarely yields results because
of lack of consistent follow up and right
pressure in the right places at every stage.
Option 2: Through the Typha Task
Force of the concerned states already formed,
taking the issue to the Emirate Councils of the
concerned states, for the Emirs collectively to
take the matter to the attention of the
presidency to seek for "special funds" for
avoiding ecological crises.
The problem with this option is that, this
year release of the ecological fund has been
suspended, although other such special funds are
Sequel to the above, participants agreed that:
The challenge posed by Typha is too
overwhelming for communities, individual LGAs and
state governments to control.
There is a need for concerted action with the
Federal government in the lead along the lines spelt
out above in order for the menace of typha to be
brought under control.
Recommendations and Way Forward
The following were agreed upon as recommendations and
steps to be taken to move forward:
Regarding short term institutional measures:
Sensitize relevant authority on the issue of
Identify and take relevant institution on board for
Submit proposals to relevant institutions.
Provide relief materials to victims.
Regarding long term institutional measures:
Persuading affected states to make special budget
provision through ‘due process’.
Generate funds through the presidency special funds.
Enforce laws (review existing laws) on water
Awareness-raising on water management laws among
Adopting integrated water management
Bringing together all stakeholders to act
Regarding short term technical control measures:
Chemical applications, cutting/burning regularly
especially of shallow areas.
Dredging; opening up of blocked river channel and
also, opening up of new channels.
Dyke construction and periodic drainage.
Regarding long term technical control measures:
Erection of dykes and other control or diversion
Ecological audit of whole wetlands.
Large scale integrated Typha control.
Comprehensive river training and dredging/drainage
Conduct research into the nutrient needs, other
properties and origin of Typha, with the outlook
of using the findings to develop technical control
The following were agreed as immediate actions to be
taken by institutions represented at the round Table to take
the process forward:
DFID- JWL to give support to Typha Task
Force for developing short term and long term
PS MANR Jigawa to call meeting of all line PSs
from riparian states before the end of July to
enable them to formulate a single memo with a view
to presenting it to the presidency.
The Jigawa State Task Force on Typha and
DFID JWL Project is to provide support to the
Hadejia Emirate Council for the preparation of
another memo on Typha to the presidency, as
per an earlier agreement between HE, Mr President
and HRH, the Emir of Hadejia, which should be
complimentary to the one prepared by the PSs