By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Minister of Enviroment, Dr. Muhammed Abubkar, has disclosed that about 15 Northern states with a population of over 40 million people and home to over 95 percent of Nigeria’s livestock population are affected by rapid desert encroachment.
Abubakar stated this in Abuja Thursday, during the commemoration of the 2021 world desertification and drought day (WDDD) organized by the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
He said “this year’s World Desertification and Drought Day has the theme: Restoration, Land Recovery – We build back better with healthy land”.
The minister said the marking of the event was to promote public awareness on the challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought, and also highlighted methods to tackle the challenges.
He explained that, the problem of desertification and drought has 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.
“Nigeria is faced with rapid desert encroachment affecting about fifteen Northern most 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,” he said.
According to Abubakar, about 24 billion tons of fertile soil is lost annually across the world due to dry land degradation, which is affecting food production and security.
He said it is estimated that 300 million hectares of land will be required to meet the demand of food by the year 2030.
According to him, “the Nigerian government is not oblivious of these environmental issues and their impacts but is committed to addressing them to ensure sustainable development and livelihoods of the people in the affected communities.”
He noted that 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.
“At the regional level, the Great Green Wall program for instance, is an example of a regional program involving West African partners. Government will continue to support this initiative and other initiatives including the African Initiative to Combat Desertification, African Forest Restoration initiative, the Terr African initiative, the Lake Chad Basin Commission, the African Ministerial Council on Environment and the Japan International Cooperation Agency” he stated .
Similarly, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory( FCT), Muhammad Bello, commended Ministry of environment and the management of the Public Service Institute of Nigeria, (PSIN), for giving out five hectares of land for the planting of both economic and ornamental tree seedlings.
Bello represented by Director under the permanent secretary office, Udoh Atang, said the trees will not only serve as protection from windstorm and erosion for infrastructure in the school, but will also complement the efforts of the Ecological Fund Office’s intervention in the Institute aimed at mitigating the negative consequences of erosion and flooding.
Also speaking, In his good will message the Director-General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Prof Mansur Bako Matazu said rapid population growth in Nigeria, coupled with competition over dwindling common pool; land and water resources has further driven this conflicts in several states to the extent that some persons are ready to take up arms to assert their right of access.