Environment Minister, Alhaji Suleiman Zarma, on Thursday, April 11, 2019 called for integrated development of land to tackle land degradation and reclaim desertified land in the country.
Zarma made the call in Abuja at the National Workshop on African Initiative for Combating Desertification to Strengthen Resilience to Climate Change in the Sahel and Horn of Africa.
He was represented at the event by the Director of Human Resources in the ministry, Mrs Bolatito Obisesan.
According to him, government has developed policies and built institutional and legislative capacities to enhance effective and far-reaching actions to reduce the impacts of drought and desertification on the citizenry.
“Combating desertification involves integrated development of land with the aim of preventing or reducing land degradation, rehabilitating partly degraded land and reclaiming desertified land,” the minister said.
Zarma described desertification as a major challenge to National development in the northern fringes of the country.
According to him, the problem continues to degrade land resources, which provide livelihood to majority of the rural populace with its ugly consequences of resource use conflict, hunger, social vices and abject poverty in the affected areas.
“It has been estimated that between 35 to 50 per cent of the frontline areas, including 10-15 per cent of the buffer areas, are threatened by the processes of desertification, leading to a loss of about 351,000 hectares of the nation’s landmass to desert-like conditions annually.
“Meeting the present and future energy, water, food and other needs of the people in these areas represent a formidable challenge,” the minister said.
He urged participants at the workshop to use their wealth of experience to brainstorm on the choice of action against the menace of desertification in the country.
Mrs Okumura Makiko, the Chief Representative, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Nigeria Office, commended African Initiative for Combating Desertification to Strengthen Resilience to Climate Change in the Sahel and Horn of Africa.
Makiko said that the initiative was launched at the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in 2016.
She explained that it was to encourage 15 member countries in sub-saharan Africa sharing knowledge, increasing access to finance and networking.
According to her, this workshop aims to promote multi-stakeholders, further developing country Action Plan and preparing funding proposals to implement the action plan.
By Deji Abdulwahab