• Africa;
  • sustainability;
  • impact assessment;
  • river basin planning;
  • Nigeria;
  • wetlands

Debates about sustainability still take insufficient account of the significance of space and time. In this paper, their significance is demonstrated empirically through an account of the complex environmental and socio-economic impacts of dam construction on flood-plain wetlands in the Hadejia-Jama'are river basin in Nigeria. Socio-economic data from a rapid rural appraisal exercise and household questionnaire survey (data on patterns of production in the flood plain and patterns of mobility) are appraised in the context of patterns of environmental change and of inundation (analysis of riparian vegetation and time-series aerial photographs). The paper concludes that sustainable river basin development requires more attention to be paid to the perspectives derived from different scales of analysis. This calls for appropriate institutions allowing communication at the interface between village-level producer and river basin manager.