The Great Green Wall initiative is a pan-African proposal to “green” the continent from west to east in order to battle desertification. It aims at tackling poverty and the degradation of soils in the Sahel-Saharan region, focusing on a strip of land of 15 km (9 mi) wide and 7,100 km (4,400 mi) long from Dakar to Djibouti. click Here to read more about great green wall.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment, Mrs Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, has launched the Nigeria’s component of the Great Green Wall Programme on Monday, saying the programme was ideal for a new environmental management to overcome the problems of desertification.
The minister who performed the ceremony in Bachaka, Kebbi State said that the programme was a 7,775km long and 15km wide transcontinental forest belt extending across eleven countries from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East.
“This occasion marks a turning point in our collective quest to sustainably conserve and manage our delicate dry land environment and improve the living conditions of the people,” she said.
According to Mailafia, recent report in the country indicated that 43.3 per cent of the total land area of the country was prone to desertification, with the frontline states in northern Nigeria facing the greatest hazards.
“The rate of desertification in the country is reported to be high with the attendant destruction of farmlands and livelihoods, particularly in the affected states. Also, the country is losing about 2,168sq km of rangeland and cropland to desertification each year and this poses serious threats to livelihoods of about 40 million people. The problem is quite alarming and can cripple provision of land resources based ecosystem services that are vital for a number of development sectors,” she added.
Drought and desertification according to her remained the core of serious challenges and threats facing sustainable development in Africa. “It is estimated that two thirds of African land is already degraded to some degree and land degradation affects at least 485 million people or 65 per cent of the entire African population.”
She said that over the years, the federal government has successfully brought the issues of drought and desertification in the front burner of the country’s development agenda and various actions and programs have been implemented in the country to combat desertification and ameliorate the impacts of drought. “Although, there are no easy solutions for reducing the phenomena of resources degradation, the situation however calls for concerted and coordinated efforts among stakeholders,” she said.
She said that the Nigerian component of the programme, being implemented as a contiguous greenbelt from the northwest to the northeast in the frontline states would rehabilitate about 225,000 hectares of degraded lands, enhance food security, reduce rural poverty and generate employment for about 500,000 people in its first year of implementation.
The minister noted that: “In order to ensure an effective implementation of the Great Green Wall Programme in our country, a National Strategic Action Plan has been developed and work plan and budget for 2013 have been approved for implementation.”
She said government has also put in place necessary institutional arrangement, including a National Council on Afforestation and Shelterbelt chaired by the Vice President Architect Namadi Sambo to pilot the process and advise government on ways forward. A National Technical Committee under the chairmanship of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment has also been established to provide technical support to the council. “We therefore implore the participating States to set up similar structures for effective implementation of the programme, she said.
By Alex Abutu