Desertification in Nigeria Update:Federal Ministry of Environment Strategies

The Federal Government cannot do it all as regards management of the environment.  In the case of responding to the issue of desertification  in Nigeria it needs the contribution and participation  of the front-line states.

A sector-wide approach, which brings together governments, donors and stakeholders, will be more effective. The strategies that the Federal Ministry of Environment claims to have developed is not  spelt out in this News Agency of Nigeria Report. Any strategy that leaves out other sectors and stakeholders will not achieve desired result. The Ministry of Environment should  involve the LGAs as well as the communities in these front-line states.


Ministry to mitigate impact of desertification on buffer states, says Official

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN),Thu, 04/04/2013
The Federal Ministry of Environment has developed strategies to ensure that buffer states are not affected by desertification battering the frontline states.

Dr Bukhar Hassan, Director, Drought, Desertification and Amelioration Department of the ministry, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja that the the buffer states, also referred to as neighbouring states, comprised Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba and the FCT.

“The 11 frontline states are on the war front with desertification. Desertification in Nigeria is caused by the moving of the Sahara desert southwards into the country and the first ports of call are these states.

“These frontline states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kastina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.

“This is where most of our actions are carried out.

“We have also put a lot of efforts in these areas; in the buffer states, we try to reduce the possibility of desertification in these areas, while in the North, we try to restore the degraded areas.’’ he said.

Hassan said it was worrisome that some settlements especially on the borders between Nigeria and Niger Republic had been over taken by the desert.

The director explained that the large population in the settlements was forced to migrate to the buffer states due to the encroachment.

“So, the natural resources in that state now will be under strain and once they are being under strain, the next thing you will realise is that there won’t be any sustainability in the natural resources management.

“And once you don’t have sustainability, the next thing you get is scarcity of natural resources and once you get scarcity, the result of that is anybody’s guess.’’ he said.

According to the director, desertification is making the forests in the frontline states to disappear.

“We cut down trees for cooking and this is made worse by the advancing desert because trees are felled without replacement and it makes the problem much more difficult to solve.

“We also have a lot of influx of people from other states to cut down the trees which they use as cooking fuel and for other purposes.’’ he said.

Hassan observed that such visible effects of desertification had affected the economy of the country.

He stated that the ministry had stepped up awareness campaign on climate change as evident in the increasing desert encroachment

“What we are doing now is that we are talking to stakeholders like the wood sellers association, to make them understand the need to sustain the environment even as they do their businesses.

“We are encouraging them to plant more trees because it is not using firewood from trees that is hurting us but the fact that they do not plant trees to replace the ones they have cut down.”

The director stated that the frontline states would work out a framework that would consist of rules and economic agenda to sustain the environment.

5 responses to “Desertification in Nigeria Update:Federal Ministry of Environment Strategies

  1. The front line in fighting the desert is the wetlands. Your wetlands are increasingly clogged with weeds such as Typha and water hyacinth. These weeds are an inexhaustible (PLEASE Prove me wrong!) source for charcoal or other forms of biofuel. They are also a source for fiber, and in the right conditions a huge source of food.

    • Dear Steve,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I feel there is a mix-up here. I agree with you that proper management and utilization of the wetlands is one of the key measures in fighting desert encroachment in some parts of Nigeria that border the Sahara Desert. However, not all Sahelian states in Nigeria have wetlands.

      The blog addresses the situation in the group of states in the Sahelian parts of Nigeria which refer to themselves as “Front Line States”.

  2. Those states without wetlands are behind enemy lines. They must be reconquered. The loss of the lake is the driving force in the expansion of the Sahara, not the other way around. We must weed and dredge the lake to bring water near enough to the Sahelian states to restore them to health. According to a map I saw years ago, there were important aquifer recharge areas in the lake’s Northwest sector that is now completely dry. These must be verified and excavated. There is a huge amount of soil that needs removal, and can be used to help rehab the desert. Everything that needs removal (weed and silt) is biomass and could be made into charcoal or other biofuel if it has no better uses. The more other uses the better. This is carbon we are talking about. The lake is choking on a huge carbon sink. Biofuels are the way to finance the job. Making the charcoal is trivial: see (better can be done. They make no use of the pyrolysis gases.) The job is enormous, but so is the labor glut.

  3. Desert encroachment as a threat to the 11 States mentioned started long before now and one of the challenges in Nigeria is emergency approach to solve problems that started with early warnings several years ago.

    Desert encroachment is a long term issue, and of course has been worsened as a result of climatic change and global warming. However, the problem should be tackled as suggested through a multi-stakeholders, trans-disciplinary approach through sector wide approach.

    For instance, government cannot stop the wood sellers from earning a living without providing alternative productive ventures and I am also aware that there are alternative, cleaner cooking technologies, that ensures almost total conversion of fuel sources to energy, with minimal production of green house gases. However, how affordable are they? can the poor community residents afford them?

    what are the advocacy and awareness creation mechanisms instituted to inform the people about the consequences of their actions? how effective are these strategies?

    Is Nigeria government agencies involved in media advocacy to garner more resources to halt the trend while in reality, the motives are different?

    I am aware that developed countries plan ahead of time, in response to forecast predictions, before problems arise; develop and implement proactive measures to avoid unpleasant circumstances and development before they arise through people-oriented focused interventions and in Nigeria, what do we have????

    Let us call on our government to act now when something can still be done to arrest the situation and save many communities for untoward hardship and relocation that is happening through people oriented proactive interventions.

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