Climate change and the way out for Nigeria

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By Success Shaibu

According to the World Bank 2014, Nigeria has a total land coverage of approximately 910,770 sq. km, which sums up to about 14% of the total land area in West Africa. With a population of 178.5 million (National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria 2014), Nigeria is acclaimed the largest populous African nation.

The country is located between 4oN and 14oN, and between 3oE and 15oE on the globe.

Nigeria, like other developing nations, is vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, particularly when one considers the various activities of such huge population.

Climate change can be said to be a protracted significant change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns.

This change is not less than five years, and could span decades or centuries. The effects of this menace on Nigeria are made manifest in food insecurity and shortage in agricultural produced, disruption of the seasonal cycle, shortage of water supply for agricultural use and generation of hydropower, destruction of the ecosystems, rise in sea levels, and ultimately takes it tolls on the health of the citizens.

However, it has been established that there are two effective ways of tackling this deadly phenomenon – mitigation and adaptation measures.

According to the United Nation Environment Protection, the mitigation measure deals with any form of human effort that reduces the emission of greenhouse gases  while the adaptation measures has to do with foreseeing undesirable effects of climate change and taking suitable measures to prevent or minimize the damage they could cause. Experts believed that early adaptation measures comes with the advantage of saving lives and resources.

It is quite disheartening to realize that human activities contribute overwhelmingly to this deadly phenomenon called climate change. It is more worrisome, or perhaps grossly unfair to the less industrialized nations to realize that industrialized nations who are major contributors to climate change suffer less from the adverse effects when compared to what the less developed nations’ experience is.

As a matter of fact, the 4th IPCC assessment report revealed that Africa – a continent where Nigeria is the acclaimed most populous black nation – will be worst hit by the effects of climate change.

Like other nations, Nigeria is not spared from the unsympathetic rod of climate change. The effects include:
Rise In Sea Levels: one prominent and deadly result of this, is flooding. Heike Spohr said that “The Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 2001 estimates a rise of the sea level until the year 2100 between 9 and 88 cm. In Nigeria, over 15 communities and farm plantations worth millions of naira were submerged by flood in Shonga district, Edu local government area of Kwara State. – Daily Trust 14 October, 2010.

At another instance, flooding from the rain completely shut down Lagos metropolis, forcing people to stay indoors and leaving some major roads and highways flooded. It also affected Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Rivers, Edo, Enugu, Cross River, Anambra and Oyo States.” This is as reported by The Guardian 11 July, 2011.

In the same vein, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported that over 250,000 Nigerians were displaced by flood disasters that wreaked havoc on many communities across the nation in the year 2010. During the 2012 flooding in Nigeria, 363 people lost their lives, and with over 2.1million people displaced during the incident.

This same flooding incident affected 30 out of the 36 states and a whooping 7million plus people were affected, with total damages hitting an incredible 2.6trillion naira.  – NEMA November 5, 2012.

Food Scarcity: Extreme weather events like floods and heavy winds destroys large expanse of farmland and farm produced.
In Enugu, Delta, Kwara and other riverine areas of Nigeria, flooding has destroyed lots of farm produce. It has been revealed that climate change increases mortality rate in livestock and reduces livestock production by at least 25%

Loss of Biodiversity: The country is endowed with a variety of plant and animal species and it currently has eight national parks and 28 game reserve. The World Rainforest Movement records (1999) revealed that 70-80% of Nigeria’s original forest has disappeared. Between 2000 and 2005, Nigeria lost about 2, 048 ha of forest (FAO 2005).

Attempts made by government to conserve forest resources by way of establishing forest reserves have not been successful due to lack of management and funding.

Bisong (2012) reported that “Nigeria’s forests are threatened as the forest cover declined from approximately 24 million hectares in 1976 to 15 million hectares in 1995 and down to 9.6 million hectares in 2011.”

Health: A change in the weather condition that our body is already used to will definitely affect our body chemistry or system, and this will ultimately take its toll on our health.

Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate change (BNRCC) revealed that the direct consequences of climate change in Nigeria manifest in malaria, cardiovascular respiratory disorder of the elderly, skin cancer, cerebra-spinal meningitis, high blood pressure, cholera.

Increase in heat waves will increase the number of deaths and illnesses occurring from heat stress, heatstroke, and cardiovascular disease.

Measures taken so far to tackle climate change include: Nigeria has merged with League of Nations in their quest to mitigate climate change and as such has ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.

Federal Ministry of Environment is intensifying efforts on the implementation of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in the country.

Federal government is considering introducing National Crop Insurance for farmers and implement a flood disaster payment policy to protect farmers, communities and states from economic losses due to flood.

Capacity Building to participate more in the Clean Development Mechanism.

Creating awareness on climate change and its adverse effects through various symposiums, seminars, conferences, rallies and campaigns both online and real-time.

Adequate provision of fund in national budget.

Provision of improved infrastructure to aid research, data collection and sharing.

In conclusion, Nigeria has in all fairness, made reasonable attempts and efforts to curb the menace of climate change. However, we must admit that our best isn’t good enough.

Citizens expect the government to be more responsible and show huge commitment to climate change matters – something the Canadian government just did by establishing Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and appointing a Minister in Catherine McKenna. I think the government of Nigeria can emulate such as it will foster proper management of funds and resources, continuity and consistency in our fight against climate change.

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