Productivity of land is very important to livelihoods in every environment but more so in developing countries. Among the top inhibitors of land productivity are the issues of drought and desertification.
Desertification is the degradation of land in arid and semi-arid ecosystems. This is caused by climatic conditions and human activities such as deforestation, over-cultivation, overgrazing and poorly drained irrigation.
Drought and desertification are responsible for increase in health and socio-economic issues across Nigeria such as; diseases like meningitis and asthma, migration, slow/ zero infrastructural development, food insecurity, poverty, conflicts between herdsmen and farmers amongst others.
According to the UN, Nigeria is losing 1,355 square miles of cropland and rangeland due to desertification every year. It is estimated that over 55 million people have been seriously affected in Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states, while advancing southwards at the rate of 0.6 km annually.
In commemoration of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (17th June), we put together some steps we could take towards mitigating the spread of drought and desertification in Nigeria. They include;
- Sustainable farming and grazing practices – integrating the use of land for both farming and grazing under favourable conditions, that allows for efficient cycling of nutrients within the agriculture systems.
- Planting trees and shrubs that help sustain the earth’s nutrients.
- Raising awareness at community level to ensure their participation in combating desertification.
- States need to develop legislation and enforce laws that prohibit over exploitation of natural resources.
- Developing and implementing remediation and protection measures.
- Research seeking to mitigate desertification issues should be encouraged.
Let’s take steps towards protecting our common future by first conserving our land.