By Muhammad Aminu
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr Matthias Schmale, has called on all Nigerians to forge a new contract with nature in the face of the danger of desertification and drought, and its growing threat to lives and livelihoods across Nigeria and Africa.
In statement after a virtual commemoration of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2022 signed by UN Information Officer, Nigeria, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, Mr Schmale appealed to Nigerians to help preserve the nature.
He said:“Together we can build a more inclusive and sustainable world that leaves no one behind. On this day, let’s begin to see ourselves as caretakers of the precious resource that is land.”
He explained that “we could forge a new contract with nature that would ensure a healthy and prosperous Nigeria for future generations,” and noted that restoring nature was the great test of our generation, a test that could not be failed.
The Resident Coordinator advocated for a more inclusive, balanced and sustainable world that leaves no one behind.
Schmale further called for actions to be taken at all levels, from citizens, businesses, governments and UN partners, “everyone can come on board and lend a helping hand to rise up from drought together.” He added.
In his welcome remarks, the WMO Representative, Mr Benard Gomez, who was represented by the National Professional Officer, Mr Roland Abah, emphasized that the State of the Global Climate 2021 report released in May 2022 by the UN Community through WMO, indicated that the past seven years had been the warmest seven years on record, and drought affected many parts of the world, including parts of Africa.
Abah disclosed that “UN Agencies support programmes and projects to combat drought, desertification and other extreme climate-related events in Nigeria. These programmes cover meteorological and hydrological observation, data infrastructure, monitoring and forecast products from satellite and data processing centres, information services, and early warning systems, emergency response and recovery.”
FAO Representative, Mr Fred Kafeero, represented by FAO Assistant Representative, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, disclosed that “FAO’s large-scale landscape restoration activities were carried out in 15 communities with a total of 2,240 Ha of drylands put under restoration through the planting of native woody and herbaceous fodder species including 2,757 Ha farmland areas that were naturally regenerated for biodiversity conservation and protection.”
Abubakar emphasised that FAO was promoting nature-based approach through sustainable land management practices and restoration of degraded dry lands in three states of Bauchi, Jigawa and Sokoto in Northern Nigeria.
He further emphasized the commitment of FAO to transformation of the food system and sustainable management of Nigeria’s natural resources.
In her presentation on “Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in the Savannah Zones of Northern Nigeria”, the Project Manager, UNDP-GEF-IAP- FS Project Nigeria, Ms. Rhoda Dia, explained how UNDP have worked with small holder farmers to build resilience to climate risks (Desertification and Drought inclusive) and other shocks that drives food insecurities.
She cited the introduction of different erosion control measures such as use of cover crops, earth and stones bund and use of sandbags; and disclosed that “So far, 17.14 % (84.4 hectares) of eroded land was reclaimed in farmers plots. Planted /grew 180,747 seedlings/tree at farmer’s plots, school compounds, orchards and household gardens.”
Ms Dia further informed that the project provided linkages to research institution to access foundation for Seed multiplication; Established over 97 orchards with economic tree species in schools and communities; Trained over 38,000 beneficiaries on: Integrated pest & weed Management, and different erosion control techniques; among others.
Explaining the remedy for drought management, the Coordinator, Northern Zone, Natural Eco Capital, Mr Umar Saleh Anka, said that “Reliance on ground water and surface water are viable option for reducing the impact of drought.”
On the other hand, Irrigation as an option, according to him, will increase cost of production, but will definitely save farmer from drought induced total loss or crop failure.
The virtual observance of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2022 in Nigeria under the theme, “Rising up from drought together”, was organised by the UN Information Centre (UNIC), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).