The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed on June 17, every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification.
While commemorating the day in Edo state, the governor of the state, Mr Godwin Obaseki, called for sustained collaboration among world leaders, donor groups and environmental rights activists among other stakeholders in the sector, to tackle the twin challenge of desertification and drought.
According to Obaseki, “Drought and Desertification are both national and regional problems that require a concerted response for sustained outcomes and creative reforestation solutions will check the frequent farmer-herder clash in parts of the country.”
He noted that the negative impact of climate change is not restricted to any one state or country and urged “transnational synergy in policy formulation and execution to mitigate its effect.”
While calling for “radical effort to re-green areas prone to desertification,” the governor noted that “policymakers must embrace proactive strategies to check practices that exploit the land and render it vulnerable.”
In Edo State, strategies are being deployed to boost afforestation across the state, through the promotion of plantation agriculture, green parks and gardens.
The state government has been working with stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to stop flaring gas in line with global best practice.
“We are working with private investors to invest in plantation agriculture, the most recent is the N5 billion Urhonigbe Rubber Plantation, and coming weeks after Okomu and Presco began their expansion programmes,” he added.
The governor said this year’s theme: “Land has True Value-Invest in it,” dovetails with his administration’s “conviction that land as a resource for development must be efficiently managed for the good of everyone.”
He enumerated the reforms in land administration in the state to include the creation of Edo Geographic Information Service Agency Edo (GIS); the repositioning of Edo Development and Property Agency (EDPA), the Law on the protection of private property and the scrapping of Community Development Associations, amongst others.
The country is currently losing about 351,000 ha annually to advancing desert and such conditions are estimated to be advancing southwards at the rate of about 0.6 km per year. The dunes are threatening life-supporting oasis, burying water points, and in some cases, engulfing major roads in the affected areas. Trees planted by the government as shelterbelts to check the advancing dunes are withering due to the lack of attention. Desertification, which is affecting the 10 northern States is considered as the most pressing environmental problem and accounts for about 73% out of the estimated total cost of about US$5.110 billion per annum the country is losing arising from environmental degradation.