Drought in Northern Nigeria
rought and desertification have been occurring persistently in the arid and semi arid zone of northern Nigeria with devastating social and economic impact for decades.
The primary causes of desertification in Nigeria have been identified as overgrazing, over-exploitation, deforestation and poor irrigation practices leading to negative impacts like; resource-use conflicts, problem of food security, lose of flora and fauna among others. Therefore, land degradation resulting from droughts has been accelerated by anthropogenic factors.
A lot of policies and programs have been laid down to tackle the problem yet, there exists a gap in policy formulation and strategies in combating drought and desertification in Nigeria, especially the treatment of desertification concern as a sectoral issue rather than an integrated, holistic issue having relevance with other sectors.
Nigeria has a long way to go in taking control of the desertification threats which is advancing southwards at the rate of 0.6 km a year from the northern part of the country.
The mere announcement of new programs or the churning out of new legislation does not lead to changes in society, especially, those relating to the environment.The successful implementation of any program requires the active support of the local people and stakeholders. Given that this local population is encapsulated in illiteracy, poverty and traditional land-use conservatism, extra efforts are required to overcome these shortcoming
Both short-range planning which relies on incentives, extension programs, and sensitivity to and respect for local cultures as well as long-range schemes which are founded on program institutionalization, massive education programs, diversification of fuel energy sources and re-structuring of the agro-based economy of the country, should be pursued.
However, in northern Nigeria and Nigeria in general, where more than 70% of the population is still rural and thrive on subsistence agriculture, the primary focus of any rural development program must not only be the promise of a better future but, also a relief of the present sufferings.
Projects must therefore be designed, or re-designed according to the expressed and observed needs of the target population. Popular participation and proper project design and re-design should go hand in hand.
For instance, there are quite a number of afforestation programs e.g. the Forestry I program which was designed to last from 1979 to 1986 but consequently aborted in 1984 due to several factors which include: seedlings survival rate was very low and the Forestry II program which was undertaken in the period between 1987 to 1996, this program was to serve as a pilot program and also to provide a baseline information for future afforestation programs in the country. It is clear that much more needs to be done to arrest and control the transitional ecological changes that are transforming the environment into a desert.
The impending crisis which looms on the horizon with its attendant human tragedies can only be imagined after reviewing the case histories of the Sudano-Sahelian ecological crises of the 1960s and `70s. Much is at stake. The success of the forestry programs is critical and needs to be taken very seriously by politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats, foresters and local people who stand to be the most victimized by the desertification threat.
Desertification threats in northern Nigeria should be recognized in both words and practice. There is a need for government to take serious action on this environmental phenomenon. The environmental crisis is slow, surreptitious, subtle, and almost imperceptible, and its consequences affect the marginal poor, subsistence farmers and herders who have little voice. The potential for even more insidious and rapid expansion of the desert has not really caught the Nigerian public and bureaucratic eye. Defensive resources and the resourcefulness have not been marshaled at a level anywhere near commensurate with the extent of the problem. There is the need for the institutionalization of key aspects of the forestry programs that would drive the course of desertification control.
Universities, and especially schools of forestry, should create functional departments that will train new foresters, or re-train old ones, and view forestry differently from the old traditional/colonial forestry of the past. Extension services are the key and central linkage points between the farmers, villagers and the higher-level personnel in the offices of forestry administrative headquarters.
The extension workers are crucial to the success of any afforestation program. They should be trained in a new vision of being `generalists’ rather than `specialists’, and having a broad-based interdisciplinary knowledge of the concerns and cultures of the local population, as well as the technical knowledge of trees and the environment.
Furthermore, the departments of Drought, Desertification and Amelioration, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Forestry must combine efforts at institutional and policy levels to work together.
When they cannot collectively plan and implement, their individual efforts should be reinforcing. It is important to recognize the inter-disciplinary nature of the agricultural and forestry sectors. A solution which addresses one without the other will be an exercise in futility, both in the short and long-run.
Agro-forestry is a planned integration of agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry. Given the traditional land use practices in northern Nigeria, a well-tailored agro-forestry program will be compatible with the lifestyle. Efforts should be intensified to design agro-forestry systems that will meet the agricultural and pastoral needs of the people.
Trees can modify the microclimate, affect the hydrological cycle, enrich the soil quality and quantity, and provide fodder and fuel-wood for the people. While establishing shelterbelts and windbreaks, other forms of agro-forestry, e.g. fuel-wood production, multi-purpose trees and shrubs on farmlands, alley cropping, etc. should be pursued as well.
Given the seriousness of the environmental problems, there must be a concerted effort to orchestrate and integrate multiple agro-forestry systems to suit the different ecological zones and differing cultures. The use of fruit trees would give immediate gratification to the farmers.
To this end, development agencies working on forestry programs in any given region or community should be encouraged to share information, design needs assessments, plan strategies and carry out programs with improved cooperation and communication. This will not only raise their efficiencies but also will reduce wastes through duplication, unnecessary competition or local rivalries.
Green-It Front Page
From The Publisher
This is a publication of necessity. For over a decade, this concept has been on the cards. I always knew, we will do it but could not put a finger to its commencement date.
AND THE DESERT ENCROACHES…
The statistics on desertification in Africa is alarming, for most nations of the continent, especially those in North Africa, the “sand” is a feared enemy. In Nigeria, the situation is not much different, the desert is expanding, Lake Chad is a shadow of itself, people are being displaced and pastoralists in search of pasture clash with farmers. If the trend persists, the consequences will be dire. In this report, OluseyiAdegbola examines issues crucial to the fight to stop desertification.
In Bauchi, a state in Northern Nigeria, they drift along the cobbled streets, often barefoot.When the heat of the sun becomes unbearable, they take shelter beneath extended eaves, behind large plywood doors, in shady alleys – anyplace that’s hidden enough but with sufficiently quick access to the main streets where they resume their trade – begging alms when the sun goes down. Their skin is fair, hair curly, and by their features, you could quickly discern that they are not from around here.They are natives of the Republic of Chad, an African country ravaged by war, drought, desertification and famine; they are here seeking to preserve a livelihood which the desert stole from them.
WANGARI MAATHAI- BACK TO NATURE
“The planting of trees is the planting of ideas. By starting with the simple act of planting a tree, we give hope to ourselves and to future generations”.–Wangari Maathai
As a child Wangari Maathai, Africa’s first female environmentalist to win the Nobel peace prize (2004), adored the sites of nature- the hundreds of tadpoles that enjoyed the freshness of the marshy waters in the village, and the green natural expanse. To her, this was perfection as the environment all around exudes the warmth of nature and the peaceable state of Mother Nature.
PERSONALITY INTERVIEW: NNIMMO BASSEY
The state of the environment is at the centre stage of global discourse. Nations are faced with ecological disasters: floods, drought and desertification among other environmental hazards which to a large extent have been accepted as being effects of climate change.
Amidst these tragic events, renowned environmentalist and chairman, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth International, Nnimmo Bassey speaks with Green-IT reporter Oluseyi Adegbola on issues critical to the preserving of our environment.
PERSONALITY INTERVIEW: OMISORE
“Green Building is a must… a government providing mass housing for her people is exercising a social and political responsibility” - Omisore
The state of our environment is a critical issue that deserves the attention of all, government, organized professionals and technocrats. In this light Chief Tokunbo Omisore, the incumbent president of Africa Union of Architects (AUA) bares his mind on related and germane issues. Excerpt:
What is the vision and mission you want to enliven as the helmsman now at Africa Union of Architects, AUA?
First, I was elected President of Africa Union of Architects on the 16th June, 2011, before then I have been Secretary General in the last 6years. The mission and vision I will say commenced 6 years ago as secretary general but with an opportunity now to actualise what have since commenced with other council members to put in place. The aim in my 3 years as the President is to rebrand the African architect and architecture and this hinges on what you can refer to as the architect and her society.
WORLD POPULATION LEAP TO 7 BILLION
According to the United Nations on October 31, 2011 the global demographic projection is now estimated to have reached 7 Billion from the previous 6 billion ascertained on October 12, 1999 that had been increasing steadily geometrically right now at the rate of around 1.10% per year.