By Onwuka Nzeshi
No fewer than 35 million people located in about 10 states in northern Nigeria are facing threats of hunger and extreme weather conditions due to desert encroachment on arable lands and grazing fields. This is because the Sahara desert is said to be moving southwards at the rate of 0.6 kilometres per annum, just as the rate of deforestation has been about 350,000 hectares per annum. This was part of a report presented to the House of Representatives Committee on Environment when it received a joint delegation of officials from the Agricultural Development Company Limited, Israel and the Federal Ministry of Environment.
The Isreali firm and the Nigerian government are collaborating under the Desert-to-Food Programme to eradicate the menace of desertification. Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Honourable Duro Faseyi, who while receiving progress report on the Green Wall Project / World Bank project on Tree Planting and Green Wall Sahara, said the House was worried about the devastating effect of desertification in northern Nigeria and was prepared to collaborate with relevant organisations and institutions working in that area to stop desert encroachment.
Faseyi expressed dismay that the Federal Ministry of Environment has not been carrying the parliament along in the projects, and assured that the committee will provide the enabling legislative framework to encourage tree planting and enhance successful execution of the Green Wall Project in the country.