THE Federal Government, on Wednesday, said about 43 per cent of total dryland in Nigeria was directly threatened by land degradation, thereby, causing serious food insecurity, abject poverty and forced migration.
It, therefore, said most of the population were dependent on natural and land resources based economy for their livelihoods with over 80 per cent of the nation’s vegetables and livestock produced in the area, stressing that such unique economic hub deserved priority attention by all tiers of government and citizenry.
The Director General, National Agency for the Great Green Wall (GGW), Mr. Goni Ahmed, stated this in a statement issued and signed by Head, Press and Public Relations Unit of the agency, Mrs. Larai Daze, a copy of which was made available to the Nigerian Tribune in Abuja.
Mr. Ahmed, in his presentation at the ongoing technical session of the 10th National Council on Environment in Lafia, the Nasarawa State Capital, tagged: “Reviving the Sahara and Sahel to regenerate livelihood,” said dry lands constituted about 43 percent of its total land area covering 11 states which was directly threatened by land degradation causing serious food insecurity, abject poverty, forced migration and natural resource use conflicts resulting to insurgency in some areas.
According to him, “in recognition of the land degradation as a global phenomena, and the limited success of past efforts, the GGW initiative was presented by the Nigerian Government to the African Union as a holistic regional approach to combat desertification and improve livelihood of affected communities.
“This initiative led to the signing of the convention on GGW 11 member countries and the creation of Pan African Agency of Great Green Wall (PAGGW) and adopted by the African Union (AU)”, he added.
He then pointed out that the poor soil fertility which was further worsened by climate change was as a result of one third of the World’s population living in drylands to face huge stress, such as repetitive droughts.
The DG lamented that drylands in the sub-Saharan Africa cover about 14 million sq km and was habitat to about 70 percent of crop land and 82 percent of livestock holders, while productivity in those areas were seriously challenged by natural and human factors.
Mr. Ahmed, therefore, urged the state government of the affected states to make financial contributions through budgetary allocation, as well as to provide land and community mobilization to support the programme.
He stressed that the agency, which was established by an Act of the National Assembly, has embarked on activities in realization of the mandate of the GGW programme.
The GGW programme, according to him, include establishment of shelter-belt/windbreak and woodlot plantations, promotion of agro-forestry and renewable energy, Farmers Managed Natural Regeneration, promotion of human livelihood activities, provision of water and rural infrastructure, skill acquisitions and employment generation, support dry lands research effort, school outreach programmes, as well as sand dune stabilization and oases development among others.