Agency advocates collective efforts to curb desertification

land-wikimediaMOVED to arrest the rising threat of dessert encroachment across the country, the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW) has launched an initiative of tree planting club in schools.

Speaking in Abuja at the launching ceremony of the Great Green Wall School Club Tree Planting for the Inauguration of the “Land of Peace and Friendship Among People”, the Director General, National Agency for the Great Green Wall, NAGGW, Goni Ahmed said desertification remained a major challenge in the country’s environment.

According to him, it was a common knowledge that desertification and recurrent drought are among the serious environmental problems facing Nigeria today, noting that Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano and others, are states adversely affected by the menace.

“The people living in this region are heavily depended on land, water and vegetation resources for their livelihoods which are fast deteriorating as a result of desertification. This progressive deterioration of resources over the years has undermined Nigeria’s efforts in ensuring stable and sustainable future for the affected population in the 11 frontline states.

“These states have a combined population of 46.4 million (National census 2006) and account for about 43percent of the country’s total land area. The impacts are enormous with respect to land degradation, large scale crop and livestock failure, and rural-urban migration with attendant rise in poverty and social conflicts”, said Ahmed.

However, in its effort to inculcate the values of conservation and care for environment, the agency has established Great Green Wall Clubs in selected schools within the frontline states, where students will be trained on how to raise seedlings, plant and nurture them to maturity.

According to him, desertification is a major constrain to economic and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals stressing that World Bank estimated that over N10.5 billion is lost annually through deforestation, desertification and drought.

“The Great Green Wall Program has the potential to drive national economic growth and sustainable development considering the fact that 46.4 million people who constitute the population of the eleven front line states heavily depend on natural resources for their livelihood.” He added.

Council Member, National Agency for the Great Green Wall, Mr. Huzi Mshelia, said the nation couldn’t achieve environmental sustainability without putting the youths at the center of the government’s efforts.
Emphasising the imperative of youths’ involvement, Msheila said, they have special concerns and responsibilities in relation to the environment.

“A number of environmental risks and hazards disproportionately affect young people who have to live for an extended period with deteriorating environment bequeathed to them by earlier generations.

“Today’s occasion should not be seen as the end of such an important activity, but rather the beginning of our quest to rehabilitate and protect our environment for present and future generations,” he added.

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