“Climate change in Nigeria is a ticking time bomb and it exists little or even nothing to mitigate its effects.” Nnimmo Bassey, Nigeria.
What might climate change mean for people living in some of the world’s poorest countries – and will they be able to adapt to its worst impacts?
Climate change is one of the most critical global challenges of our times. Recent events have emphatically demonstrated our growing vulnerability to climate change. Climate change’s impact ranges from affecting agriculture, further endangering food security, to sea-level rise and the accelerated erosion of coastal zones increasing the intensity of natural disasters, species extinction, and spread of vector-borne diseases. This issue is of immense importance for every global citizen. Hence, it requires an initiative to curb it globally.
“…Climate change is going to devastate communities that are already the most marginalised in our society, domestically and on a global level, communities that are least responsible for the industrial and historical emissions that created the problem. This is why I fight for climate justice.”-Ann
NIGERIA CLIMATE CHANGE FACTS – OneWorldClimate
Peer-reviewed research accepted by the Journal of Geography and Regional Planning concludes that Nigeria’s average temperature has risen by 1.7 degrees in the period 1901-2005. The increase has been higher in the semi-arid regions and lower in the coastal zone. The paper also demonstrates that the rate of change has increased since the 1970s.
The consequence for the Nigerian people is a geographical pincer threat from desertification in the north and coastal erosion in the south. Through a combination of overgrazing, abuse of woodland for fuel and increasingly unreliable rainfall, the Sahara is advancing at an estimated rate of 600 metres per annum. Over 55 million people in 10 northern states could be affected.
By contrast, rising sea levels threaten Nigeria’s coastal regions. The Niger Delta may be the source of oil wealth but its low-lying terrain criss-crossed with waterways makes it extremely vulnerable to flooding and salinisation. The protective mangroves of this coastline have been largely lost to human intervention. Half of the 15 million population of the city of Lagos lives less than six feet above sea level. The wealthiest areas of Victoria Island are in the front line, alongside the mushrooming slum settlements. In the rural economy, almost all small farms presume stable rainfall patterns in their choice of seeds and planting times. Government strategies for poverty reduction in both arid and arable regions are therefore at risk of the vagaries of climate change in addition to more familiar social and economic pressures.
The Nigerian people themselves tend to relate climate change to the disconcerting incidence of exceptionally high temperatures and the uncertain implications for disease-carrying pests and insects.
According to Climate Funds Update database, Nigeria has not yet received any adaptation funding from external bilateral or multilateral sources. This may in part be attributable to the country’s slow-moving institutional response to climate change. The focal point for coordination of government policies is intended to be a National Climate Change Commission. The bill to establish the commission was introduced to parliament as long ago as 2007 but still awaits presidential signature. Disaster risk reduction plans appear to be less attuned to climate change than in other countries. For example, there is a strong case for developing a network of meteorological stations and early warning systems for both coastal and inland regions.
At community level, adaptation strategies are largely consistent with existing responses to poverty and hunger. The fight to halt desertification involves tree planting, the use of alternative fuels such as biogas, and the adoption of more versatile livestock. In more conventional farming regions, smallholders are encouraged to diversify their corps and adopt more efficient rainwater harvesting and irrigation techniques. The coastal region can likewise approach adaptation as better management of existing resources. Building and environmental regulations should be enforced; for example to stabilise the shoreline by preventing the mining of sand from beaches.
“What to do?” – NIGERIA
Nigerian politics and public discussions are barely addressing the mentioned problems. The last two years were so much dominated by the internal questions of power that political issues as regards content or even specific problems like the climate change, would not have attracted real attention outside the circle of environment experts or NGOs. In terms of short-term development policy more urgent worries exist and strategic foresight is not a fixed part of politics in the country. Furthermore, the climate change and its problems and solution strategies do not generate great publicity effects, as they are too complex for rather superficial political talks.
Nigeria’s development plan does not recognize the economical threat caused by the climate change nor the menace of declining oil prices, which could result from a reduced consumption of fossil fuels. Correspondingly concepts to deal with these issues have not been submitted so far. However, the responsible body, the National Planning Commission, announced to pay more attention to them in the future. In this context the newly elected president has a number of important tasks to fulfill: The diversification of the economy, the independence of fossil fuels (in this case independence of selling fuels), revitalization of the stagnant agriculture, industrialization (the share of the industrial product of the GNP has reduced about 6% in the last years) and the development of the hardly existing service sector are some keywords.
“By all means, foresight is to be wished to the new President; otherwise the country risks to be speared by one of the two horns of the dilemma: climate change or declining oil–prices.” Nnimmo Bassey, Nigeria
Olumide Idowu |Youth Engagement officer | Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition (NYCC) | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.nigycc.org | +2348133451818