Update on Desertification in Nigeria

This blog has published articles on the environment excerpted from a number of Dailies in Nigeria, especially from the Daily Trust. The article copied from the June 18, 2014 Daily Trust below is the latest information recorded in the Nigerian Dailies on desertification in the country with special emphasis on the North.

Highlights from this new addition are: •

“In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 17 the “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought” to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.”

•The list of the 11 Northern Nigeria frontline states as regards desertification.

•The Pan African Initiative – “The Great Green Wall (GGW) project in Nigeria and the role being played by the Minister of Environment – Mrs. Laurentina Mallam – in this project.

• Efforts of Kebbi Government in reclaiming its forests reserves.

• Zamfara’s inclusion of the GGW project in its 2014 appropriation bill. •

Kebbi State Commissioner for Environment, Ishaku Dauda’s success of the GGW’s in Borango and Facaka communities in his state. World Day to Combat Desertification … Rising to the Challenge of Desertification in the North



World Day to Combat Desertification … Rising to the Challenge of Desertification in the North

Chidimma C. Okeke , The Daily Trust, Wednesday, 18 June 2014.

Nigeria, yesterday, joined the rest of the world in marking the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. Although the day did not witness any official function or activity, the conscious efforts made by leaders of the 11 frontline northern states to address desertification in their communities and states was a right step in the right direction.

In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 17 the “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought” to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa. Ever since, country Parties to the Convention, organisations of the United Nations System, international and non-governmental organisations and other interested stakeholders have celebrated this particular day with a series of outreach activities worldwide.

The World Day to Combat Desertification is a unique occasion to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, and that key tools to achieving this aim lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels. Experts have raised alarm about the rapid depletion of the nation’s ecosystem, a development they attributed to climate change.

In northern Nigeria, 11 states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Jigawa, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Kano, Gombe, Katsina and Adamawa are already suffering the impact of climate change as these states are ravaged by drought and desertification. But recently, the communities and states have evolved conscious strategies to cushion the impact of climate change and prominent among the strategies is the planting of trees.

Under the Pan African initiative, The Great Green Wall (GGW) project, the federal government had been able to mobilise and fund states to plant thousands of trees in the 11 states. The challenge of desertification is more conspicuous in the 11 frontline states as millions of people who rely on land as a vital means of their livelihoods could have their means of livelihoods threatened as a result of encroachment by the desert.

The Minister of Environment, Mrs Laurentia Mallam, during a recent sensitisation and advocacy visit to some of the frontline states stressed the need to sustain the environment by fighting desertification through the GGW programme. She stated that the determination of the federal government to fight desertification was responsible for investing over N10 billion on the GGW. According to Mallam, the GGW programme was designed to bring succour to and alleviate the sufferings of people living in these states where the Sahara was already causing severe damage and generate employment and economic activities to the communities when completed. She said: “The negative effects of desert encroachment is always bad such as lack of water, food and poverty and at times people are forced out of their homes and seek refuge in other places which may result into conflict if they are not accepted or giving opportunity to live freely.”

The Governor of Kebbi State, Saidu Usman Dakingari said that there was a symbiosis between humans and the environment, adding that the ecosystem ensured a balance for living in peace. “If you offset that balance you know the consequences and this is what we have seen in this part of the country. Sometimes the human conflicts, like the Fulani farmers conflict, are due to the offsetting of the environmental balance. “He lamented that people have used large part of the forestry reserve in the state for farming, saying, however, that: “In kebbi state, we are doing as much as we can to recover those forest reserves and plant more and this is why last year, we had 86 kilometres planted, we also have about 21 orchards established around the 21 LGAs of the state. This year we intend to plant about 300 kilometres of the state, with experience of last year, I think we can plant faster and we can do better.” The governor said that if the tempo of the planting was maintained, the state would recover most of the reserve it lost to farmland. “We don’t want any tree to be felled and nobody should build any filling stations, from here to Kalbo and from here to Argungu, we have enough filling stations and that will help us to retain the wall of trees. If not it will go in the next 10 years and they are not ready to replace them. “We hope we can sustain these policies when we invest, the moment you leave your investment they get spoiled, so there should be consistency in policy, pursuance of those policies and the policies should be result oriented.”

Zamfara State government said it included the Great Green Wall (GGW) in its 2014 appropriation bill to assist the federal government in the fight against desert encroachment. The Commissioner for Environment, Mukhtar Muhammad Lugga, said that the GGW project in the state was going to be properly implemented, adding that hindrances to achieving its success have been removed. “The initial problem we had is that we started planting at the end of rainy season and our seedlings did not get the benefit of the early rainfall last year, “ he said. He added that they started early this year by revisiting the project areas and replanting the seedlings that weltered and as a result achieved about 16 kilometres within the space of two months.

Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Muhammadu Mera, also highlighted the importance of maintaining the environment, no matter where you are and what you do. He said: “The issue of desert encroachment is one that has been with us for long and it is a welcome development that the government is doing everything possible to salvage the situation through the GGW which is not only going to take care of desert encroachment that is stopping people from farming or displacing them, but also to empower them in a way to earn a living and also reduce poverty.” Mera appreciated the effort of the government on the GGW project, promising to continue advocating and ensuring that the people embrace the programme in his emirate. Commissioner for Environment Kebbi State, Ishaku Dauda, said the GGW has succeeded in Boroango, Facaka and other communities where it was implemented. According to him, four boreholes have been constructed with two solar powered ones working while others were at the finishing stages, adding that contract has been awarded for the fencing of the orchards and nurseries. “Environmental impact assessment has been completed in the four communities and they are now feeling the impacts of the GGW, unlike before, and residents are prepared to protect and nurture it as theirs.” Speaking on the contribution from the state environmental sector, he said they have planted 86 kilometres of shelter belts, provided water for it and raised about 900, 000 seedlings in the nurseries located all over the state. He added that this year, the state intended to plant 300 kilometres of shelterbelt in the nine local governments that are prone to desert encroachment and roadside planting was made in 12 local governments.

“We, therefore, call on all stakeholders involved in the implementation of the GGW to pursue it with all vigour so that Nigerians in rural areas will start enjoying the benefit like their counterparts in Senegal,” he said.

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