Environment minister Mohammad Abubakar has said Nigeria is faced with rapid desert encroachment affecting about 15 northern states with over 40million people.
He said in Nigeria, the problem continues to degrade land resources which provide livelihoods to majority of the rural populace with the ugly consequences of resource-use conflicts, hunger, social vices and abject poverty in the affected areas.
Dr Abubakar who stated this on Thursday in an event to mark the 2021 World Desertification and Drought Day (WDDD) with the theme; "Restoration. Land. Recovery." in Abuja, said the affected states is home to over 95 percent of livestock population in Nigeria and has played a major role in the production of food for domestic consumption and export crops.
World Desertification and Drought Day is marked every 17th of June and dedicated to promote public awareness on the challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought, and also highlight methods to tackle these challenges.
The minister said Nigerian Government is not oblivious of these environmental issues and their impacts but is committed to addressing them to ensure sustainable development and livelihoods of the people in the affected communities.
"Government has developed policies and plans and built institutional and legislative capacities to enhance effective and far-reaching actions to reduce the impacts of desertification and drought on the citizenry," he said.
He noted that government is concerned about the disruption of ecological system caused by poor land use, population pressure and the devastating activities of insurgents in the North Eastern part of the Country with the dire consequences of land degradation, loss of lives and means of livelihood.
"To this end government has put in place the North East Development Commission to restore human dignity and bring succor to the people living in this area," he said.
In his remark, the Director-General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Prof Mansur Bako Matazu said rapid population growth in Nigeria, coupled with competition over dwindling common pool; land and water resources has further driven this conflicts in several states to the extent that some persons are ready to take up arms to assert their right of access.
He said beyond weather forecasting, NiMet is in good position to provide wind and solar installation mapping to enable the deployment or renewable energy in form of wind and solar power.
"This will no doubt reduce the destruction of trees and vegetation for firewood and other forms of raw biomass and serve as valuable driver to restoring degraded land and helping in conserving Nigeria's diverse natural ecosystem," he said.