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Desertification threatens livelihood of 40m Nigerians – Ministry of Environment

Desertification is the process by which fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture. Put another way, desertification is a type of land degradation in which a relatively dry area of land becomes a desert, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife.

It is caused by a variety of factors, such as through climate change and through the overexploitation of soil through human activity.  In the light of this, the Federal Ministry of Environment reported that 35 per cent of Nigeria’s landmass has been gradually worn out by desertification with more areas still threatened to be likely affected still. Dr Mahmud Mohammed said this on Thursday at the 2019 commemoration of the World Desertification Day in Nangere, Yobe. And according to Mahmud, the means of livelihood of about 40 million Nigerians in 11 frontline states( a country or state that borders on an area troubled by a war or other crisis), who is depending on land resources is threatened by soil degradation and desertification.

The minister, who was represented by Mr John Alonge, the Director, Environmental Assessment in the ministry, went on to urge government at all levels and all stakeholders to collaborate so as to check desertification and reclaim lost lands that have been affected. Gov. Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state said in consolidation of the affected areas, that the state government would establish shelter belts, woodlots and plantations in the affected areas to check desertification. In his words:"Government would set up a high powered advocacy committee under the chairmanship of the deputy governor to sensitize the people and distribute assorted tree seedlings for planting by the communities,” (Buni).

The governor, who was represented by Baba Malam-Wali,  Acting Secretary to the State Government, said the government would also try to provide alternative sources of energy to safeguard trees. Buni appealed to the Great Green Wall programme and the Federal Government to support the efforts of the state in tackling the issue of desertification. "Yobe is geographically located in a fragile ecological zone that is most often prone to the threat posed by desertification. Therefore, it needs support and collaboration with all stakeholders to effectively combat the menace,” the governor said.