By: Bamidele Fashube
Over 40 million people across 15 Northern states in Nigeria are faced with severe desertification, the Federal Government has said.
It said the affected states are home to over 95 percent of livestock population in Nigeria and have played a major role in the production of food for domestic consumption and export crops.
In commemoration of the 2021 World Desertification and Drought Day, the Minister of Environment Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, said desertification is by far the most pressing environmental problem in the dry region of the World.
According to him, if this problem persists, this could result in conflicts, hunger, social vices and abject poverty in the affected areas.
The Minister said about 24 billion tons of fertile soil is lost globally due to dry land degradation affecting food production and food security, and in spite of all these it is estimated that 300 million hectares of land will be required to meet the demand of food by the year 2030.
He said:“Considering the enormous challenges posed by desertification, land degradation and drought exacerbated by the climate change and the urgency to address their impacts- the United Nations declared 2011-2020 as the decade for deserts and the fight against desertification, and in the 2015 agenda for sustainable development, Goal No. 15 was designated to sustain life on land by protecting, restoring and promoting sustained use of terrestrial ecosystem, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss with the target to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality by 2030.”
Mahmood said the Nigerian government is not oblivious of these environmental issues and their impacts but is committed to addressing them to ensure sustainable development and livelihoods of the people in the affected communities.
“Government has developed policies and plans and built institutional and legislative capacities to enhance effective and far-reaching actions to reduce the impacts of desertification and drought on the citizenry.
“Government recognizes the importance of partnership in tackling desertification, it has therefore facilitated the involvement of other actors, including the private sectors, NGOs as well as Donor Organizations. Many of these actors including the Nigerian Environmental Study/Action Team (NEST) and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) are actively participating in the activities of the Global Network on desertification,” he said.
He added that at the regional level, the Great Green Wall program for instance, is an example of a regional program involving West African partners.
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“This program which aims at providing long- term solutions to desertification, land degradation, drought, climate change and biodiversity loss within the West African Sub-region adopts integrated sustainable land management (SLM) approach in its operation.
“Government will continue to support this initiative and other initiatives including the African Initiative to Combat Desertification (AI-CD), African Forest Restoration (AFR100) initiative, the Terr African initiative, the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), the African Ministerial Council on Environment (AMCEN) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” he added.