By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The World Bank has approved a $700 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Nigeria Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) Project.
According to the bank, the project would increase the implementation of sustainable landscape management practices in northern Nigeria and strengthen the country’s long-term enabling environment for integrated climate-resilient landscape management.
The bank said that the productivity of major crops in Nigeria has been steadily declining over the past two decades, in part due to climate change, forcing an expansion of the area under agriculture and increased imports to meet the food needs of Nigeria’s growing population.
It added that persistent water shortages, especially in the extreme north, continue to exacerbate land degradation, desertification, and habitat loss.
Resource shortages, violent conflict, outdated agricultural systems not adapted to changing dryland conditions, lack of access to finance, weak value chain linkages, an uncompetitive environment for agribusiness, and poor market access were identified as other key barriers to increased agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
Consequently, the global body said that better environmental and water resources management and resilience against disaster and climate risks (largely water-related) were needed to sustain economic growth and protect the most vulnerable.
The World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, was quoted as saying, “Nigeria is faced with water scarcity and droughts which occur every five years, on average, with the potential to increase in frequency due to climate change.
“This scenario not only threatens food security, livelihoods, and productivity, but also exacerbates fragility and increases the risk of violence. With communities and households that are most dependent on natural resources for their survival and vulnerable to desertification, this intervention will improve multi-sectoral watershed planning and investments to help about 3.4 million direct beneficiaries adapt to evolving dryland conditions.”
Also speaking on the project, the Task Team Leader, ACReSAL, World Bank, Joy Iganya Agene, said, “The project will specifically target the inclusion of vulnerable and marginalized groups, including women, youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, internally displaced people, and ethnic and religious minorities using an integrated watershed approach across sectors and levels of governance.
“This will help reduce the vulnerability of millions of the extreme poor in northern Nigeria, strengthening their own role in the management of their natural resources while also addressing land degradation, strengthening climate resilience, and lessening livelihood vulnerability in dry, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions in the northern states.”
The ACReSAL Project is a 6-year strategic project prioritizing actions within four components: Dryland Management, Community Climate Resilience, Institutional Strengthening and Project Management, and Contingent Emergency Response.
It will improve the capacity of the country to adapt to a changing climate, largely through enhancing multi-sectoral convergence (across environment, agriculture and water) and technology modernization, including improved use of data, analytics, and connectivity.