Desertification bane of achieving MDGs —Agency

Posted by News Express | 15 July 2015 | 3,398 times

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The National Agency for the Great Green (NAGGW) has identified desertification as a major challenge to economic growth and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the country.

The Director-General of the agency, Dr Goni Ahmed, made this known on Tuesday at the maiden launch of the Great Green Wall School Tree Planting Project in Abuja.

Ahmed, quoting the World Bank, said that an estimated N10.5 billion was being lost annually to desertification, deforestation and drought.

He said the project tagged `Land of Peace and Friendship among People’, was aimed at creating awareness in school children, the need to plant trees to combat land degradation and climate change.

Ahmed said it came as a result of the decision of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of Pan African Agency for the Great Green Wall held in N’jamena, Chad.

He added that it was to honour the war ravaged people of Mali.

Ahmed expressed regrets that majority of the people depended on fire wood for their domestic energy needs, which he said, had exceeded the regenerative capacity of the country’s natural resources.

According to him, huge investment is needed in managing our valuable lands to check deterioration due to unsustainable land and water use.

``We believe that our school outreach and catch them young initiative is a bold decision taken to protect the dry lands to meet the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, diminishing forest, MDGs, alleviation of rural poverty to ensure long term food security.

``If we collectively take action against deforestation and other environmental-related issues, we will not only improve land productivity, but will provide the bedrock for agricultural growth, create employment both on and off-farm leading to economic growth,’’ Ahmed said.

In his address, the Chairman of the occasion and Council member of NAGGW, Mr Huzi Mshelia, decried the increase in forest destruction in Nigeria.

Mshelia said that environmental sustainability needed combined efforts of youths.

``Today, Nigeria forests are being threatened by rapidly increasing population which has led to increased hums’ activities and encroachment of forestland.

``If the trend is not reversed, we are bound to witness a reduction in food production and our environment will be less habitable,’’ Mshelia said.

In a goodwill message, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Mr Taye Haruna, said the ministry would always support the agency to achieve its goal of ensuring the a green society.

Also, the Director-General, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr Lawrence Anukam, said the agency was currently collaborating with the NAGGW to enforce environmental laws in the country.

Anukam, represented by a Director in the agency, Mr Godwin Atsegwasi, commended NAGGW for the tree planting project.

He said that it was a right step toward reducing flooding and ensuring environmental sustainability.

The Director, Drought and Desertification Amelioration in ministry, Dr Bukar Hassan, suggested tree planting project for victims of insurgency and other challenges in Nigeria.

The Principal, Government Girls Secondary School, the site of the project, Hajia Habiba Kolo, promised to sustain it to the benefit of the future generation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a green wall tree planting club was inaugurated in the school.

The NAGGW was adopted as an Integrated Rural Development Programme by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to tackle the challenges facing the dry lands of the continent.

It provides an opportunity for collective efforts to tackle policies, investments and institutional constraints encountered in combating desertification and associated environmental issues in the region. (NAN)

Photo shows Great Green Agency DG, Dr Goni Ahmed.

Source: News Express

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