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Rivers and Lakes of Nigeria


About two-thirds of Nigeria lies in the watershed of the Niger River, which empties in to the Atlantic at the Niger Delta, and its major tributaries: the Benue in the northeast, the Kaduna in the west, the Sokoto in the northwest, and the Anambra in the southeast.


The Niger is Africa’s third longest river and fifth largest in terms of discharge. Several rivers of the watershed flow directly to the Atlantic, notably the Cross in southeastern Nigeria and the Ogun, Oshun, and Osse in the southwest.

Several rivers of northeastern Nigeria, including the Komadugu Gana and its tributaries, flow into Lake Chad. The lake rests in the center of a major drainage basin at the point where Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon meet. 

Kainji Lake, created in the late 1960s by the construction of the Kainji Dam on the Niger River, is Nigeria’s only other large lake. Nigeria’s rivers and lakes have not fared well under development.

 Sensitive wetland habitats, home to many species of birds and other animals, have been cleared for irrigation, and their flood-dependent ecosystems have been damaged by dam construction.