By Funmi Olasupo
Nigeria loses about N10.5 billion annually to environmental challenges such as deforestation, drought and desertification, the Director General, National Agency for the Great Green Wall Program, Goni Ahmed has said.
The DG stated this at the launch of the GGW school club/tree planting campaign at Government Girls Secondary School Dutse, Abuja,
Ahmed said these environmental challenges have put the means of livelihood of 46.4 million people living in the 11 frontline states in the north, at risk.
The Federal Government through the Great Green Wall program is fighting desertification in Kebbi, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Adamawa, Katsina, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara states.
He added that the progressive deterioration of resources over the years undermined Nigeria’s efforts in ensuring stable and sustainable future for them.
Ahmed however called for collaborative effort to tackle desertification in the north, saying, the agency took the tree planting campaign to the school in other to create awareness among school children on the need to plant trees to combat the problem of land degradation and climate change.
Deforestation and drought
He said: “Desertification is a major constraint to the economy and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The World Bank estimated that over N10.5 billion is lost annually through desertification, deforestation and drought. This progressive deterioration of resources over the years has undermined Nigeria’s efforts at ensuring stable and sustainable future for the affected population in the 11 frontline states.”
The DG stated further, “The people living in this region heavily depend on land, water and vegetation resources for their livelihoods which are fast deteriorating as a result of desertification. If we can collectively take action against deforestation and other related environmental issues, we will not only improve land productivity but will provide the bedrock for agriculture growth, create employment leading to a positive cycle of economic growth.”
He explained that the indiscriminate cutting of trees for fuel wood is a serious threat to sustainable environment which is strategic to the nation’s economic development.
“Faced with immediate survival needs and few options, the poor often have no choice but to continually exploit the natural resources. In so doing, they not only diminish their options but also those of future generations. Combating drought and land degradation has now been moved towards the centre of policy development in order to break the links between poverty on one hand and desertification, drought and land degradation on the other hand. Huge investment is needed in managing these valuable lands that support so many people so as to check their deterioration due to unsustainable land and water use and the impacts of climate change,” Ahmed noted.