Senate set to save 40 million from desertification

By Onyedi Ojiabor on May, 7 2015

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THE Senate yesterday set the machinery in motion to save over 40 million citizens threatened by rampaging desertification.

Those mostly affected are in 11 states – Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto, Zamfara and Yobe.

This is contained in a bill on establishment of the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (2015), which scaled second reading yesterday.

Senate Leader Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, who sponsored the bill, said in his lead debate that it seeks to establish the National Agency for the Great Green Wall for the implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Great Green Wall programme, including management of drought, desertification and afforestation control.

Ndoma-Egba said about 43 per cent of Nigeria’s total land area is under the threat of desertification, with the resultant deleterious effects on food security, sustainable livelihood and social security of the affected communities with over 40 million people.

He noted that the threat posed by rampaging desertification led to the Great Green Wall for the  Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) proposed in 2005 by Nigeria and adopted by the African Union in 2007.

Nigeria, he said, signed the GGWSSI Convention in 2010.

He said the specific goal of the Initiative was to address land degradation and desertification in the Sahara and Sahel Region, enhance food security and support communities to adapt to climate change.

He noted that 11 countries – Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Chad – are involved in the programme.

Ndoma-Egba said the thrust of the bill was to provide a green wall of trees or shelterbelts from Kebbi State to Borno State, a distance of 1,500 kilometres and 15 kilometres width to wedge the southward expansion of Sahara desert and improve land productivity.

He added that the phenomenon of desertification was affecting an area of about 393,168sqkm (about 43 per cent of the total land area of Nigeria) and threatening the livelihood of over 40 million people.

The lawmaker noted that it was estimated that about 2,168sq km of rangeland and cropland is lost each year, obliterating settlements, inducing forced migration, exacerbating rural poverty and social conflict.

He said that the frontline states support about 90 per cent of the cattle population, about two thirds of the goats and sheep and almost all the donkeys, camels and horses found in the country.

He warned that if the rampaging desertification is not checked and controlled, the socio-economic consequences to the country would be disastrous.

Apart from Ndoma-Egba, many senators, including Mohammed Ali Ndume, Ita Enang, Atai Idoko, spoke in favour of the bill.

Senate President, David Mark, who summed up contributions by senators, said that it was high time the country returned to modern method of grazing.

Mark also bemoaned the slow pace of enacting a legal framework to back the GGWSSI Convention.

He said: “Not only 43 per cent of our land area, but also 40 million Nigerians are threatened by desertification.

“We initiated the Great Green Wall proposal in 2005 and 10 years down, we are just bringing the bill for a legal framework to back it.

“It is only a clear indication of our fire brigade approach to almost everything. It is a pity that we are doing this late.

“But like it has been said, it is better late than never.”

Source: The Nation


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