Land degradation, drought and desertification have been described as inexorable challenges to sustainable development of some parts of the country.
The Director-General of the National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW), Mr Goni Ahmed, said this in Abuja.
“In Nigeria, millions of people rely on the land as a vital source of livelihood; so not only is this natural asset the basis for food security and agricultural production, it also generates employment,’’ he said.
Ahmed said that about 40 per cent of the land resources were presently degraded, adding that the development had been driving poverty, hunger, unemployment, forced migration and conflict.
“This land degradation even worsens climate risks, particularly drought and flood, although numerous initiatives have been enunciated and implemented to defeat these challenges. Poverty and desertification are persistently gaining ground in Nigeria and eroding the few economic gains that we have managed to attain. Desertification also brings in its wake decline in the biodiversity, with ripple effect on economic productivity of the soil in the dry land areas. So, improving the living standards and guaranteeing united national Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in developing nations without destroying the environment has become a most topical issue to address,’’ he said.
Ahmed said that there was a lot of empirical evidence to support the fact that human activities, in the quest to satisfy human needs, posed great danger to ecological environment than any known circumstance.
“Because of the weight and speed at which desert is encroaching the country, Great Green Wall programmes are important in addressing environmental issues, whether in farming, grazing or oil drilling. There is an urgent need to ensure sustainable development of the dry lands in Nigeria as a strategy to tackle the detrimental social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification. So, we must work out ways of sustaining healthy living and tackling the challenges resulting from poor sanitary living, congestion, water and air pollution as well as food insecurity,’’ he said.
Ahmed said that the threat of population explosion was a reality which required affirmative action in order to set in motion palliative measures that could improve the people’s living standards.
“The palliative measures will incorporate more efficient use of energy, managing our cities sustainably, effective management of water resources and protection of freshwater sources. The measures will also involve the promotion of green economy initiative and the real-time management of coastal zones and protection of biodiversity. Without mincing words, the only way to go is going green, embracing sustainable living and development alternatives,’’ he added.
The director-general said that there was no gainsaying the fact that the ecosystem was in dire need of deliverance from the overbearing imposition of utilising the earth resources.
He said that such remediation efforts would ensure co-existence and thriving of stakeholders on earth, while guaranteeing atmospheric chemical equilibrium as well.
Ahmed emphasised that the only cheapest and most efficient way of slowing down global warming was to protect and restore the forests, particularly the tropical forests.
“This is why the National Agency for Great Green Wall is encouraging the growing and reproducing of trees and shrubs on farms to provide food, fuel and fodder. Through this process, our farmers can transform large portion of the region’s dry landscape into productive agricultural land, while improving the food security of the growing population. The trees protect the land against wind erosion; serve as sources of fuel wood, enhance soil fertility and provide fodder for livestock,’’ he said.