The federal government said it has taken steps to tackle environmental challenges in the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) through the World Bank-sponsored Agroclimatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) Project.
The World Bank December last year approved a $700m credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for the project.
Minister of Environment, Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi said the implementation of the project would improve the livelihoods of Nigerians with the target of lifting 100 million people out of poverty.
Daily Trust reports that the federal government, in collaboration with the World Bank, launched the ACReSAL project in April to address environmental challenges in northern Nigeria and tackle the age-long farmers-herders crisis.
The project would be jointly implemented by three Ministries including Environment; Agriculture and Rural Development as well as the Ministry of Water Resources.
Speaking in Lagos at a week-long Technical Work Plan Workshop ahead of the implementation of the project to be funded by the World Bank, the minister reiterated that the project is one of the central components in President Muhammadu Buhari’s strategy of ensuring environmental sustainability by communities across the country.
The National Coordinator for the ACReSAL project, Salisu Dahiru, said the project is aimed at reversing the land degradation in the semi-arid part of Nigeria and at the same time tackling the socioeconomic challenges associated with it, especially the farmers-herders conflict.
He said, “For instance, Lagos State has the smallest land area in Nigeria but it has the highest population. Research has shown that over 80 per cent of people living in Lagos State depend on wood-based sources as the main source of energy for cooking and for eating.
“Do you see trees or wood being gathered in Lagos? No! All the firewood is coming from up North. Meaning, we have Lagos State where the population is there but we do not have trees, which is causing deforestation and land degradation in the northern part of the country.
“The project is to address and reverse this land degradation and the way it is going to do it is to combine the three key ministries that are involved: Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and we also have Ministry of Water Resources because when you deplete the vegetation cover, the place becomes dry and if it is dry, it does not have water, if it does not have water, it does not support agriculture and people who are living there must survive.
Task Team Leader, Joy Iganya Agene disclosed that ACReSAL Project is a 6-year strategic project prioritising actions within four components including Dryland Management, Community Climate Resilience, Institutional Strengthening and Project Management and Contingent Emergency Response.