Nigeria: Govt Needs Billions to Fight Desert Encroachment

Abuja — Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze, has said that the Federal Government would require an estimated N11 billion to tackle desert encroachment in the northern part of the country.

She said the country’s arable land mass and water resources are seriously being threatened by the twin hazards of drought and desertification especially with the increasing scourge of climate change.
She stated that desert now covers over 35 percent of the country’s total landmass as it has moved from Kebbi and Kano areas to New Bussa and Jos regions.

The minister, who was represented by the Acting Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Abubakar Jimoh, made the disclosure on the occasion of the Workshop on Promoting Climate Information Services for Sustainable Socio Economic Development in Nigeria organized by the Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET) in collaboration with the Embassy of Israel.

Acknowledging the grim picture of the encroachment, she said Lake Chad which was once the largest fresh water lakes in the world has now shriveled by 95 per cent over the last 40 years.

She added that the notable impacts of the twin hazards include food shortages, malnutrition and diseases, water scarcity, massive migrations which often result in conflicts.

She said, “These have continued to pose major obstacles to achieving sustainable socio-economic development including efforts to protect past developmental gains.”

Njeze added that the problem is further compounded by inadequate human and infrastructural capacities to cope with the hazards as well as reduce the country’s vulnerability to the hazards, which she says, is a necessary element of poverty reduction strategies that would in turn facilitate the actualisation of the first MDG as well as the Vision 2020.

She said the government was desirous of mitigating the negative impact and achieving high economic growth. She said agricultural productivity depends to a large extent on weather and climate information.

The minister stated that the timely and accurate provision of the necessary agro climatic information and advisories such as the seasonal rainfall prediction provided by NIMET has been identified as a major intervention in addressing these problems.

She said weather and climate forecasts, particularly the information on onset and cessation dates and length of the rainy season are useful for decision makings regarding choice of crop variety, planting dates, and investments in infrastructure. She added that NIMET’s activities transcends beyond its services in the aviation industry in ensuring safety of lives and property. She said the urgent need for acquisition of updates on agro metrological data analyses techniques in the development of agro climatic information products and services for sustainable development in Nigeria.

In his remark, the Director General of NIMET, Mr. Anthony Anuforo said the Agency in line with its mandate is highly committed to providing very valuable, timely and accurate weather and climate information for all application areas of meteorology particularly in priority areas like food production and food security, water resource management and air, land and maritime safety.

He said the increasing variability and fluctuations in the global weather pattern in recent decades have however constituted great challenges in the provision of information services.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate IPCC projection shows that for about 2.5 degree Celsius rise in average temperature, a decrease in net return to cropland by USD16 billion. He said the impact of the drought episodes of 1968 and 1973, which reduced agricultural yields to between 12 per cent and 14 percent of the annual average which led to the death of over 300,000 animals and livestock is still being felt.

He said it is in this regard that the Agency is organising the workshop to strengthen its human capacity and improve service delivery in the provision of climate information to guide operators of the key socio economic sectors and thus ensure sustainable developments in the various sectors.

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