Desertification and Environmental Degradation; Potential Threats to Livelihood and Socio-Economic Stability

Abuja, Nigeria. June 21st, 2016 –The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was commemorated on June 17th 2016 and it is a day set aside by United Nations each year to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought. The theme for this year (2016) was ‘Inclusive cooperation for achieving Land Degradation Neutrality’, and issues regarding the importance of Land as a natural resource and how its degradation affects the livelihood and wellbeing of humanity were brought to the fore on several global discussions.

As part of its contribution to the global discourse on desertification and environmental sustainability, and also given that in recent times, Nigeria as a nation has witnessed some direct impacts of environmental degradation and its repercussion on socio-economic stability in the forms of violent conflicts and scramble for environmental resources. For example, the recent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in several parts of the country, which has been attributed to the increased migration of herdsmen in search of pasture as a result of growing desertification and shrinking of the chad basin and also the emergence of militants in the nations Niger delta region, who are carrying out vandalism of the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure as a way of protesting the environmental degradation and poor development of the region.

Excerpts of Findings from NOIPolls Climate Change Report.

In view of the world desertification day commemoration, NOIPolls has released findings from its special report on climate change, highlighting assessments of Nigerians on deforestation, desertification, and the effects of environmental change on livelihoods. Findings from a series of national polls conducted between 2007 and 2014 showed a decline in forest covers in most parts of the country with more than half of the respondents (55 percent) who reported observations of fewer trees in their communities.

The results further showed that over the 4 year period (2007, 2008, 2010 and 2013), an average of 22 percent of respondents claimed to have observed that ‘there were more trees’ , whereas an average of 55 percent (the majority) claimed ‘there are fewer trees’. Further findings also revealed that the majority (43 percent on average) indicated that the temperature had gotten ‘warmer’, and the overall majority of respondents (73 percent on average) believe that changes in the environment would have consequential impacts on their livelihood.

Desertification is land degradation in drylands, resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. While climate change affects the whole world, the poorest suffer the most. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report revealed that 20 percent of arid regions have already become desertified and that 2 billion people, one third of the human population of the planet, are at great risk of poverty, hunger and disease. Another study by the Woods Hole Research Centre established that the Amazon Forest is at imminent risk of being turned into desert.  If the 90 billion tons of carbon stored in the Forest were to be released into the atmosphere, it would have disastrous consequences on the world’s climate, increasing global warming by an estimated 50 percent.[1]

In view of the above statement, respondents’ opinions were assessed in terms of temperature pattern and in 2007, the majority (47 percent) indicated that the temperature got ‘warmer’, whereas in 2010, 24 percent of the respondents stated that the temperature got ‘colder’. In addition, more respondents (46 percent) stressed that the temperature ‘stayed the same’ in 2007. Further analysis revealed disparities across all the geo-political zones as the North-East zone recorded the warmest temperature in 2010 as revealed by 69 percent of the respondents from that region. 

Climate Change affects all countries in the world as droughts and floods are destroying the crops and harvest of farmers especially in developing countries, leaving them in a miserable situation. In determining the effect of climate change on the means of livelihood, an average of 73 percent of respondents within the period surveyed, answered in the affirmative. This is evident as crops are getting destroyed due to periods of extreme heat and heavy rains hence adversely affecting the livelihood of people especially famers.

Across the geo-political zones, the majority of the respondents (90 percent) who stated that adverse changes in the environment would have effect on their livelihood are from the South-South (2007). This region also maintained the highest average number of respondents that answered the question in affirmation (79 percent).

In conclusion, climate change and desertification are somewhat related hence, combating desertification would yield multiple local and global benefits and help mitigate biodiversity loss and human-induced global climate change. Environmental management approaches for combating desertification, mitigating climate change, and conserving biodiversity are interlinked in many ways. Therefore, joint implementation of major environmental conventions can lead to increased synergy and effectiveness, benefiting dryland people.

Effectively dealing with desertification will lead to a reduction in global poverty. Addressing desertification is critical and viable alternatives must be provided to dryland people to maintain their livelihood without causing desertification. These alternatives should be embedded in national strategies to reduce poverty and in national action programs to combat desertification.

Survey Methods

The survey was conducted by NOIPolls/Gallup in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2013. It involves face-to-face interviews of a random sample of 7,864 nationwide across the four years for Nigerians that are 18 years and above, representing the six geo-political zones in the country. NOIPolls Limited is the No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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[1] http://www.worldpreservationfoundation.org/topic.php?cat=climateChange&vid=23#.V2d-D1UrJdg