The Federal Ministry of Environment has stepped up environmental education and advocacy campaign across the country, ahead of the predicted heavy rainfall and floods in 2013.
Addressing the management staff of the ministry in Abuja on Monday, Minister of Environment, Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, warned against complacency and directed that the tempo of activities relating to erosion, flood, environmental sanitation and awareness creation be stepped up to avert another round of flood related disasters in the country.
She urged that resolutions of various stakeholders meetings, as well as the recommendations of various committees set up after the 2012 floods should be implemented without further delay.
She emphasised that educational jingles which had already been produced in English, Pidgin and three widely-spoken Nigerian languages be broadcast on national, regional and state television and radio stations to reach the broadest spectrum of the populace with appropriate messages. The jingles are on the environmental issues of flooding, desertification, sanitation, erosion and land degradation, and will run for one quarter, to be followed by documentaries in the second quarter. The programmes are billed to run on the 36 Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) stations, Channels Television, NTA Network News breaks, and select zonal and state radio stations across the country.
Out-door billboards displays in strategic places across the country will follow to reinforce the messages in the electronic media.
The national environmental education and advocacy campaign which is being pursued for the first time in the country is to give effect to the vision and passion of the minister for a national green environment movement involving all persons and groups in the country.
More proactive programmes to keep the nation on top of environmental challenges are to be unfolded in due course by the ministry with the objective of starting and sustaining a mass movement which harnesses and transforms the nation’s environmental threats into positive assets and development opportunities for job and wealth creation.
On Thursday, Mailafia commissioned the Forestry Geographic Information System (FGIS)/Remote Sensing laboratory at the Department of Forestry, Utako in Abuja.
The minister said the Department of Forestry in association with GIS/Remote Sensing which dates back to 1976 has successfully used the techniques to produce the first comprehensive Land Use and Vegetation (LUV) maps for the country under the Nigeria Radar Project (NIRAD) which provided the necessary baseline information that guided not only forestry management practices in the country, but other land-based development sectors.
The LUV Map production which was repeated in 1997 by the Forest Department provided the change matrix for land use and vegetation for a period of 21 years and the land use statistics submitted by Nigeria to international agencies within the period were based on these maps.
The facility also houses the web-based National Forestry Information System (NFIS) which is a platform where relevant information from the forestry sub-sector in Nigeria can be accessed freely through online networking as well as the sensing laboratory alongside NFIS which are interrelated through the data/information.
The minister commended the Ecological Fund Office for providing the resources for setting up the FGIS/Remote Sensing Laboratory, and also commended Forestry Association of Nigeria (FAN) for collaborating with the ministry in setting up the NFIS, which will enhance inter-sectoral cooperation and contributions of forestry to the socio-economic development of the country.
The minister in her speech said Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer-based system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present all types of geographical data, while remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object, adding that both technologies have revolutionised forest resources assessment worldwide.
She urged the staff of the Forestry Department to ensure the facility is put to good use as well as protect and maintain it. The minister also planted a tree to commemorate the occasion.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Taye Haruna, who was represented by Dr. Bukar Hassan, Director, Drought and Desertification Amelioration, highlighted some benefits of the laboratory, saying it would enable the Department of Forestry to obtain up-to-date information and data on Nigeria’s forest resources for the purpose of planning and sustainable management, enable the ministry to meet the regular forest resource information about Nigeria needed by international agencies; provide the much-needed information on vegetation and land use changes essential to monitoring of climate change and the GIS information produced would help to provide remedial measures to forestall or reduce adverse effects of environmental problems in Nigeria.
The Permanent Secretary also advised staff of the department trained in the use of the GIS/Remote Sensing and data management not to relent on their oars but should strive to broaden their knowledge and skills in the use of the modern techniques for national development.