As Nigeria marks the 2019 World Soil Day, Soil Scientists have raised concerns over the rate of land degradation; saying up to 6,000 square kilometers representing 6 per cent of the country’s land mass has been severely degraded.
This is coming at time when the country’s population is increasing at over 2 per cent per year. This is just as several sectors depend on the integrity of land resources to deliver on key sector objectives.
Presenting a lecture titled: “Erosion Control and Management In Nigeria: The NEWMAP Approach (Challenges, Actions And Remediation)” the National Project Coordinator, Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP); Dr. Salisu Dahiru, said crop land degradation accounts for 1.7 to 6.4 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP.
He added that environmental security and economic development are intertwined in Nigeria saying the country now increasingly seeks to improve management of natural resources to help sustain drive, and protect the quality of its growth.
According to him, the non-oil economy grew by an average of 8.8 per cent per year in 2007-2010 but is experiencing natural resource over-reach that could undermine this achievement. The cost of on-going environmental degradation (notably renewable natural resources) and associated disasters such as landslides and flooding is estimated at 9 per cent of GDP, and is likely to increase under a business-as-usual scenario.
“In some areas of southern Nigeria, land degradation has caused yield reductions of 30 to 90%, Including other forms of land degradation such as urban gully erosion would add significantly to the overall economic cost.;
“Flooding and gully erosion is taking a large toll on the health, environment, economic and social assets of stakeholders, especially the poor in sensitive southern watersheds. Losses, damages and forgone revenues were valued at more than US$100M per year in terms of injuries and premature death, loss of vegetation cover and environmental services, income losses and yield reduction (farm to market mobility disruption), damage to infrastructure (transport, water systems, telecommunications, social infrastructure), as well as private property, social dislocation, and migration.
“Population growth, unsustainable land and water management practices, poor land use and in appropriate physical works planning, governance issues, and climate risks combine in complex ways to drive environmental insecurity,” he said.
Leading the scientists in a road walk to sensitise he public on the danger of land degredation, the Registrar, Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS) Prof. Victor Chude, said the celebration with the theme: “Stop Soil Erosion, Save our Future” was to raise awareness on the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the increasing challenges in soil management.