14m Nigerians threatened by desertification, says govt
With about 14 million Nigerians in the northern part of the country and 43 percent of the country’s land mass affected by desertification, Nigeria is in danger and have an emergency at hand, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs Fatima Nana Mede, has said.
Speaking at the event to mark the 2015 World Desertification Day today in Abuja, Mede observed that as the desert moves down south western part of the country, about 20 trailers of firewood are exported to West African countries yearly , stressing that this development has serious negative impact on the nation’s forest cover.
She said, “ The recommended forest cover for Nigeria is 25 percent but currently Nigeria has less than six percent forest cover meaning that we contribute to factors that can cause climate change and we know the implication of that in our lives and the future of our children. This is a clarion call for us to get up and do something, we must take concrete actions to combat desertification”.
She observed that desertification and land degradation affect one third of the earth’s surface, threatening the livelihood, well being and development of as many as one billion people”
“Here in Nigeria, the problem of desertification is threatening the livelihood of over 43 million people. Our greatest challenges is that the most vulnerable are the less privileged in our society who cannot on their own mitigate the emerging multifaceted problems of desertification”.
Mede noted that desertification threatens human security by depriving people of the means of decent livelihood and undercuts food production, access to water and means to economic activity.
Mede urged Nigerians to adopt sustainable agricultural systems, plant appropriate tree species to protect the soils and explore the country’s forest resources more sustainably.