GGW programme to improve over 20 million lives by 2030 – Bukar Hassan

By ChuksOyema-Aziken

The National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW) has restated its commitment towards improving livelihood of over 20 million peopleby the year 2030.

Within same period, about 22,500 sqkm of degraded land in the dry region of the country will be rehabilitated.

Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, NAGGW, Dr. Bukar Hassan stated this in his presentation titled ‘Transforming the Dry lands of Nigeria’ at the First Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum of the National Alliance for Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) Programme Implementation in Abuja recently.

Hassan said the agency is engaged in Baseline Studies and Environmental Impact Assessment; Community Mobilization, Sensitization and Awareness Campaign; Afforestation and Land Management; Promotion of Alternative Livelihoods; Rural Infrastructure; FAO Supported Action Against Desertification Project; and Employment Generation.

He said following the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Agency is accessing the 15% Ecological Fund and the Natural Resource Development Fund for the execution of its programmes/projects.

These ongoing programme/projects include, “Ecological restoration and rehabilitation to enhance the livelihoods of the affected communities and strengthen their resilient to climate change; Promotion of Climate Smart Agricultural Practices to enhance food security and climate change adaptation;Improvement of critical rural infrastructure for enhanced socioeconomic development; Promotion of alternative and efficient sources of rural energy to reduce deforestation and combat climate change; Women and youth empowerment and promotion of alternative livelihoods to reduce rural unemployment, social conflicts, forced migration and rural poverty; Review and update of baseline information and establishment of functional Database on drought and desertification in Nigeria; Renovation of Afforestation Programme Coordinating Unit (APCU) facility in Kano (Second phase); Development of GGW extension services strategy and structures.

Other ongoing activities as highlighted by the DG include Strengthening of the existing GIS laboratory for data analysis; Public awareness and mobilization campaigns; Support for research and development;Installation of automatic weather stations for real time data collection and informed decision making; Establishment of Community Plant Nurseries for the production of tree seedlings; Recruitment of Forest Guards; Range land restoration and development to reduce farmers-herders’ conflict and enhance livestock production in line with Government policy; Fixation of active sand dunes and oasis Rehabilitation; and Trade and capacity building of local communities on natural resources management amongst others activities.

Dr. Hassan identified some of the challenges being faced in the execution of its activities to include insecurity in some states in the dry lands; canalization of field investments by thieves and other hoodlums; poor community participation; Lack of financial contribution from States for the programme implementation; Inadequate availability of land in some states for project implementation; and Weak institutional capacity, particularly at State,Local and Community levels.

On the way forward, the DG suggested provision ofcounterpart funding by participating states; Establishment of Inter-MinisterialTechnical Committee to enhance synergy and technical support; Provision of Landby states for project implementation; Enhancing collaboration with developmentpartners to improve funding.

Other recommendations by the DG, include opening of Agency’sStates and Zonal offices in the 11 Front line States; Establishment ofDevelopment Partner Group to strengthen partnership and collaboration, as well as enhancing technical and financial profile of the Agency; Border planting;Exploring possibilities of increasing domestic funding through intervention funds such as the Natural Resources Development Fund: and Consultation with Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for efficient and effective procurement process.

The GGW reflects the concern in Africa to address the issue of land degradation, desertification and biodiversity loss in the context of climate change.

The Initiative is a mechanism for the conservation and protection of natural resources with a view to achieving sustainable development and particularly alleviating poverty in the Saharan and the Sahel Region of Africa.

It envisaged to create a Greenbelt at the Southern Edge of the Sahara Desert, 15km wide and 7,775km long from Senegal to Djibouti as a means to combat Desertification and Improve the Livelihoods of the Affected Communities.

Nigeria is among the 11 countries that signed the GGW Convention in 2010 and commenced its implementation in 2013.

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