By Rose Audu
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the 2021 World Desertification and Drought Day, the minister of Environment Muhammad Mahmood Abubakar said the Nigerian government is committed to addressing the numerous Challenges of Desertification and Drought to improve the livelihood of the people.
The 2021 world Desertification and Drought day has as it’s theme “Restoration. Land. Recovery. We build back better with healthy land.”
Speaking at an event to mark the day, the minister said “Nigeria is faced with rapid desert encroachment affecting about fifteen Northern states from severe to moderate”, noting that the affected states have a population of over 40million people and is home to over 95 percent of livestock population.
The minister noted that Desertification remains the most pressing environmental problem in the dry region of the World.
“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,” he said.
A Report by the The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification has revealed that More than 12 million hectares of land are lost globally to desertification, land degradation and drought each year and at least 24 billion tons of fertile soil is lost globally.
The challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought, exacerbated climate change and the urgency to address their impacts. This is why 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.
Speaking further, the Minister said “the Nigerian Government is very much aware of the environmental issues and their impacts and is committed to addressing them to ensure sustainable development and livelihoods of the people in the affected communities”.
He added that the federal 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.
According to him “the federal government has facilitated the involvement of other actors, to rapidly tackle the Desertification and Drought issues. These actors includes but are not limited to the private sector, 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.”
The minister also reiterated the readiness of the Nigerian government to continually support the various 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).