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Desertification poses “serious environmental challenge” in Nigeria

Nigeria is losing 0.6 kilometers per years to desertification. Creative Commons: World Bank Photo Collection, 2008

Nigeria is losing 0.6 kilometers per years to desertification. Creative Commons: World Bank Photo Collection, 2008

After losing 351,000 hectares of land in Nigeria to desertification, it poses the “most serious environmental challenge in the country’s north,” according to their Ministry of Environment.

Environment Minister Laurentia Laraba Mallam recently revealed that the country is losing 0.6 kilometers per years to desertification at the Northern Stakeholders Forum/Zonal Ecofair in Nigeria. Soil erosion, floods, pollution from air, water, industrial and oil spills, solid waste management and chronic drought were also named among the many challenges facing the region.

“Today, desertification is widely accepted as the most serious environmental challenge confronting the northern part of the country with 11 frontline states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara being the hardest hit,” explained Mallam. “It is estimated that between 50 per cent and 75 per cent of the land mass of these frontline states which account for about 35 per cent of the country’s total land are affected.”

The ramifications of deforestation have impacted the country’s landscape, with “uncontrolled logging and tree felling” reportedly to blame in areas like Kogi State, as reported by Governor Idris Wada. According to UNESCO, firewood use is among the main causes of desertification.

Healthy forests play a crucial role in the environment by filtering carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere all the while purifying water supplies for millions of people. A recent report suggest that “strengthening the rights of indigenous and local communities over their forests [could serve] as a policy tool for mitigating climate change.”

“There is need for improved commitment and collaboration between the federal government, […] the beneficiary state governments and the affected communities to ensure effective implementation and sustenance of desertification control projects,” emphasized Mallam.

Nigeria currently has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.

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