Desertification triggers, displaces millions across the world – Climate expert

Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna 

The patron, African Climate Reporters Dr. Yusuf Nadabo, made this statement during his presentation at Teku Kaduna International Farm to mark this year’s world desertification day, saying “desertification has triggered displacements of millions of people across the world.”

Tree planting in session.

Nadabo, who was the former head of Anatomy department, Kaduna State University, KASU, told journalists shortly after his presentation that the world must rise up and face reality and “tell ourselves the truth, and find new ways of tackling the speed of desertification that is affecting agricultural land and forcing millions of people into migration from urban to rural centre across the planet.”

He said “Desertification has triggered displacements across the world. Each year, millions of hectares of land are lost. According to the UN agencies, land degradation affects 1.5 billion people globally. Their reports reveal how desertification has turned into a monstrous challenge for Africa:

“The situation is worse in Africa due to lack of serious dedication and commitment by both NGOs/CSO and the authority, as desertification is now  trying to turn the region into a monstrous challenge that could affect every sector in the region.

“Annually, Africa loses about 80 million tonnes of cereal crops from about 105 million hectares of croplands; this can be prevented if soil erosion is curbed.”

He added that desertification has affected many states from Northern Nigeria, and many other African countries, which include Niger Republic, Chad, Cameroon, etc.

He then calls on all Nigerians, NGOs and CSO, youth organizations, religious leaders and traditional title holders to immensely double effort towards supporting the government in the daily battle against desertification that is affecting the region.

The Great Green Wall is a pan-African proposal to plant a wall of trees at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert to battle desertification. The strip of land from Dakar to Djibouti is 15 km (9 mi) wide and 7,100 km (4,400 mi) long.

Dr. Nadabo then calls on Kaduna state government to introduce tougher punishment for bush burners, and also appealed for another tougher punishment for people that are cutting down trees illegally in the forestry of Kaduna.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Mallam Ibrahim Salisu, who is founder of Teku International Farm Kaduna, and organizer of the event, told journalists shortly after his presentation that, the event was organized towards supporting Kaduna state government with over 550 different varieties of trees species, in order to combat desertification that is encroaching the state, and to raise more awareness on 17th June, international day to combat desertification.

Ibrahim said for the past 3 months, Kaduna state has declared state-of-emergency in its forestry so as to halt the speed of deforestation, desertification, and save young trees that are facing problems due to continuous demand for domestic use and other climatic factors.

He said the demand for charcoal is becoming another big problem, disturbing the existence of African forestry; hence, the need to stand up and support the government in the fight against desertification through donating trees and also use other means of informing the society on the danger of cutting down trees without planting new ones.

“Desertification is real and is affecting all aspects of human life; hence, the need to support the government against deforestation,” he said.

Ibrahim says, millions of people from north-eastern Nigeria were forced to migrate due to the effect of desertification and how it affected their farmlands and the environment they lived.

According to him, the best way to halt the speed of desertification is turning Sahara into agricultural land by planting trees and sensitizing the public on the implication of cutting down trees without planting a new one.

He pointed out that, the continuous cultivation without adding supplements, overgrazing, lack of soil and water conservation structures, and indiscriminate bush fires aggravate the process of desertification.

Ibrahim further said, every year, he plants over 80,000 different species of trees, and half of it goes to some parts of the states, while some also go to the neighboring African countries.

He says, many companies from neighboring countries do usually come and buy trees and take it to their countries for planting, in order to protect their environment.

In his own presentation, Dr. Tabi Joda, the Executive Director, Green Aid, expressed concern that over 3,000,000 square metres of land in sub-Sahara Africa have already been taken over by desertification, and the situation is getting tougher and tougher every day as a result of lack of serious commitment by authority and all stakeholders in the region.

“To make this possible, I call on individuals, community leaders, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), to really look into the necessity and urgency of combating this desertification, because so many communities are already feeling the threats of desertification.

“The people should understand that masses of disasters that we are experiencing now, like drought, flood, soil degradation and erosion are all as a result of artificial human activities that have caused desertification; so, what the people should do is to reverse the trend by planting trees.

“Communities, CSOs should engaged in trees planting – practical planting of trees – and make sure this trees grow to maturity, and then policies should follow. For instance, if there is a policy like ‘cut down one tree and plant five new ones,’ that will help in maintaining the continuity.

“Even if people use trees for cooking fuel, it won’t cause any challenge as such, because there is enough restoration and replenishing of the trees that have been cut down; but if we allow it to go fallow, then one day we will wake up not having any tree,” Joda said.

Receiving the 550 trees donated by Teku Farm, Dr. Abdulkadir Kasim, Permanent Secretary Kaduna State Ministry of Agric and Forestry, noted the action of management of the farm is a great eye-opener for the state government. According to him, “the desire of the state government is gradually coming to fusion. It is the desire of this government to ensure we encourage private sector in whatever human endeavor we get involved with.

“You know, agriculture for now is the in-thing and the saviour of the country, and having realised that we have partners in progress in the private sector like the Teku Farm, I think we are getting somewhere.

“We are impressed with support from the farm giving us over 500 trees, and we have promised them that the government will work closely with them to train our youths and also farms to come and imbibe the culture of fruit trees production, so that we address the issues of desertification and deforestation in Kaduna and Nigeria at large.

“The desire of the state is to have the Green Wall project, which we have started in Ikara, cutting across six local government areas, spanning about 313 kilometres.

“We have gone far and we have been trying to sensitise people, but our challenge is this aspect of providing adequate numbers of seedlings, and Teku coming to support us, I think it’s timely to make us achieve our desire and also to show the people that planting trees is not a waste; in fact, it is more sustainable and more revenue realising kind of intervention.”

Also responding, Mr Lot Kaduma from Sustainable Cities Advocate (Urban Future project), thanked the organisers of the event and called on citizens to be supporting the government in protecting the trees.

In his own remarks, Comrade Rilwani Abdullahi, leader of persons with disability in the state, says “We are the worse hit by climate change in the entire Africa due to our nature. Desertification is a big problem.”


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