Environmental sustainability is one of the major talking points of this century mainly as a result of decades old capitalism driven human activities on the land. Every country has its own peculiar environmental challenges and problems, and Nigeria is not an exception. The most notable challenges currently facing the country include oil spillage, land degradation, desertification, urbanization and deforestation. These challenges pose a threat to the lives and properties of Nigerians, and to a large extent, the biodiversity making up the country’s ecosystem. In other words, the problems put a question mark on Nigeria’s environmental sustainability. How much of nature and life will the future generation of Nigerians enjoy when these challenges are not tackled sustainably and earnestly?
Today marks a day we launch a concerted effort towards improving environmental sustainability in Nigeria. This blog is owned and managed by Green Habitat, an environmental nongovernmental organization, dedicated to promoting the promotion, adoption and implementation of sustainable policies and frameworks in the environmental sector of Nigeria. One of the key strategies in improving environmental protection is by raising awareness among people on pertinent issues regarding the environment. The organization seeks to use this medium to highlight the issues on the state of environment in Nigeria dowering towards its conservation. The following briefly but comprehensively summarizes the state of environment in Nigeria. The current situation, the challenges and problems in the north and south of the country, effects of climate change and the need for sustainable policies.
At the top of local and global concerns is the pollution as a result of oil spillage in the Niger Delta, prominently affected community area being Ogoniland. Oil spillage has rendered area barren has put the lives of its people at great health risks. A 2011 environmental assessment carried out by United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) on the request of the Nigerian government revealed that both surface and groundwater in the region have been contaminated by hydrocarbons. Fishery, a key occupation in the area is hampered due to dwindling fish population. The contaminants found in the water consumed by the community members, according to the UNEP report, calls for an emergency action. Major crude oil extracting companies have been blamed in their roles of carrying out unsustainable mining activities that have led events to this date. Of recent, two communities from Ogoniland, namely Ogale and Bille sued Shell demanding for compensation and clean up. It is reassuring to see the federal government, which has had a blind eye on the problem in the past, recently implemented monetary budgets to aid the remediation.
Land pollution in Nigeria is not limited to petroleum extraction as other mining sectors contribute there share. Even though there is a federal ministry responsible for the regulation of mining, the industry has not been in graced with technologies used in advanced countries. Rather, the extraction and separation of minerals, especially gold, is done locally by individual miners with little or no knowledge on related environmental impact. A northwestern state of Zamfara has been in the news over the past few years as a result of lead poisoning affecting both people and livestock. Likewise, a report from a study in 2008 reported that over two million people are exposed to radioactive wastes dumped at mining sites operated in the 1960s. There is indeed a need for a better understanding of the problems associated with the industry and ways to make it safe and sustainable.
Degradation and desertification of lands in the north of the country is another environmental problem being witnessed today. Arable land is continuously lost due to frequent droughts. Germane to this problem, the affected African countries, with a number of multinational organizations such as the African Union have initiated a gigantic project called the Great Green Wall. It is a wall made of living trees, 15 km in width and 7, 100 km in length, spanning from Djibouti in East Africa to Dakar in West Africa. It passes through the 11 African countries. Plantation of trees’ seedlings has already been started in many Nigerian states and other African countries.
Another major problem Nigeria faces is the drying up of the Lake Chad, a fresh water lake. The current water level is believed to be less than a twentieth of what is some 50 years ago. Major factors responsible for the shrinking of the water body are large unsustainable irrigation projects and onset of climate change. Threats of water scarcity among the communities around the lake are rising due to this problem. Vegetation and livestock are vanishing due to the water scarcity. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) considered the situation as an ecological catastrophe due to the depth of its impact. All eyes are on the member countries of the Lake Chad River Basin Commission to take measures on replenishing the lake.
Another environmental problem exacerbated by climate change is increased heat period, heat intensity and flooding. The intensity of rainfall has increased causing many farmlands and cities to be flooded. A number of people have lost quite a fortune due to flooding of their farmlands. They have been made to abandon their homes due to flooding. As such, Nigeria should join other countries in putting an end to negative effects of climate change.
Nigeria continues to face problems of air, land and water pollution, poor waste management (mass production of polythene bags), etc. While witnessing their consequences, it is unacceptable for such acts to continue. Sustainable practices encompassing all sectors need to be promoted and implemented. The case of cleaner energy, resource efficiency, recycling and effective environment policies must be advocated for and acted upon.
As a nation, we can do and achieve more from the resources we have. Resource efficiency, integrated waste management, transition to renewable energy, afforestation programmes are all sustainable practices that should be implemented nationwide. Leading developed countries are intensifying efforts to make all their policies pro-environment. While Nigeria may not face emission goals like them, it will be a great advantage to join the sustainability movement before we find ourselves in intolerable scenarios.
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Blog written by the founders of Green Habitat:
Abdulmumin Tanko has a master’s degree in Civil Engineering with an insatiable desire for research and writing. A staunch environmental enthusiast and a fervent campaigner for environmental consciousness, he works to break the silence and end the nescience, largely responsible for environmental indiscretion. . He believes that a serene and safer environment begins with YOU. Follow him on Twitter @Tikaysmalls
Sada Haruna is the IT strategist at Green Habitat and a contributor to the blog. He is a PhD student in the department of Environmental Engineering at the University of Ottawa. His current research focuses on safe disposal of toxic mine wastes and remains an ardent advocate of environmental sustainability. He enjoys reading and programs at his leisure time. Follow him on Twitter @H_Sadah
Sadiq Abubakar Gulma steers the organizational mission of Green Habitat. He is a member of the Green Talents International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development, a LEED accredited professional and has a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering. His research interest and work lie in investigating and improving the thermal conditions of urban built environments. Follow him on Twitter @TheCivineer