By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–THE federal government has said a total of 15 states, mostly in the Northern part of the country have been hit by desertification, saying 40 million people in the affected states were suffering the effect.
The government said it was “concerned about the disruption of ecological system caused by poor land use, population pressure and the devastating activities of insurgents in the North Eastern part of the Country with the dire consequences of land degradation, loss of lives and means of livelihood.”
Minister of Environment,Dr Mohammed Abubakar,who spoke, Thursday,in Abuja,at the commemoration of the 2021 World Desertification and Drought Day,WDDD, said the government was not oblivious of the environmental issues and their impacts but was committed to addressing them to ensure sustainable development and livelihoods of the people in the affected communities.
“To this end Government has put in place the North East Development Commission to restore human dignity and bring succor to the people living in this area.
“Government is also committed to strengthening the Lake Chad Basin Commission and repositioning it for better service delivery to those who depend on the lake for their livelihood.
” 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,”he said.
According to him,”Nigeria is faced with rapid desert encroachment affecting about fifteen Northern states from severe to moderate rate.”
“It is worthy of note that these states affected by desertification has a population of over 40million people and is home to over 95 percent of livestock population in Nigeria and has played a major role in the production of food for domestic consumption and export crops,”the minister said.
Noting that:”Desertification is by far the most pressing environmental problem in the dry region of the World,”Abubakar said,” In Nigeria, the problem continues to degrade land resources which provides livelihoods to majority of the rural populace with the ugly consequences of resource use conflicts, hunger, social vices and abject poverty in the affected areas.”
The minister also noted that:”As the world is gradually building back the battered economy and livelihood, the emphasis is on “Green Recovery,”saying “in other to achieve sustainable economic growth and development while ensuring healthy lands”.
“By adopting sustainable land management practices, land restoration and Land Degradation Neutrality is very possible,”he said.
“These measures will not only address the challenges of land degradation, drought, desertification and climate change impacts but will also guarantee sustainable production and livelihood and conserve the economy, therefore affirming the slogan” Healthy Land, Healthy people,”he added.
He spoke further:” The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification has noted that:
• More than 12 million hectares of land are lost globally to desertification, land degradation and drought each year;
“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.
“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.
” 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.
“At the regional level, the Great Green Wall program for instance, is an example of a regional program involving West African partners. 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).”