FG Moves To Combat Drought, Desertification

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News Investigators/ The Federal Government says it has developed institutional and legislative policies to enhance effective and far-reaching actions to reduce the impact of drought and desertification in Nigeria.

Minister of Environment, Mohammad Abubakar, made this known on Wednesday in Abuja at an event to commemorate World Desertification Day (Abuja 2020).

The 2020 World Desertification Day, with the theme: ‘Food, Feed, Fibre’, was celebrated in the Bwari Area Council.

Mr. Abubakar listed some of the policies and actions to include the National Policy on Drought and Desertification, National Drought Plan and Implementation of a number of programmes and projects to combat drought, desertification and land degradation.

He said that the policies aim to mitigate the impact of drought such as sand dunes, stabilisation, development of shelter belts and wind brakes as well as woodlot establishment, among others.

According to Mr. Abubakar, government recognises the importance of partnership in tackling the hydra-headed problem of desertification, hence the involvement of NGOs, CSOs as well as donor organisations.

He said that the Great Green Wall initiative was one of the regional programmes, involving West African partners.

According to him, the aim is to provide long-term solutions to desertification and land degradation within the region.

“The Nigerian government is currently considering going into partnership with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on management of the risk of sand and dust storms.

“Government is concerned about disruption of the ecological system caused by poor land use, population pressure and the devastating activities of insurgents in the North Eastern part of the country with dire consequences on land degradation, among others,” Mr. Abubakar said.

In his remarks, the Minister of FCT, Muhammad Bello said that the terrible effects of desertification and drought had become more pronounced in many parts of the world over the last few decades.

Mr. Bello, represented by Chinyeaka Ohaa, the Permanent Secretary of FCT, noted that human activities such as over exploitation and inappropriate land use due to poverty and political instability had, to a very large extent, contributed to deforestation and desertification, among others.

According to him, there is greater demand for land to provide food, animal feed and fibre for clothing as global populations become larger, wealthier and more urban.

“It is, therefore, imperative to have enough productive land to meet the demands of an increasing global population.

“Lifestyles need to change rising from the individual to community levels.

“We have, for instance, suspended all changes in land use and commenced, with the collaboration and cooperation of the private sector, aggressive tree planting across our highways.

“We have also adopted and are implementing the policy of planting three trees for every one that is cut,” Bello said.

Similarly, the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, in her goodwill message said that desertification remained a serious challenge to development, especially in the northern part of the country and in the region.

Mrs Ikeazor, represented by Mrs Mabel Emmanuel, the Director, Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought Management of the ministry, said that the theme of this year desertification and drought day was very apt and required a change of public attitudes.

She called for adoption of stringent measures to sustainably manage and conserve limited resources, halt land degradation, reclaim and restore the degraded land and ensure land degradation neutrality.

For his part, Bawuro Yahaya, the Board Chairman, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), appreciated the effort of the ministry.

Mr. Yahaya gave assurance that the board would work with the ministry to embark on tree planting to green the ecosystem.

In his remarks, the Chairman, Bwari Area Council, John Gabaya, said that the council would collaborate with the ministry to plant enough trees to curb desertification.

At the end of the event, the ministry empowered some women in the Council with efficient cooking stoves.

The Minister and dignitaries also planted trees in the council to commemorate the day. (NAN)

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