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Climate change as threat to Nigeria’s corporate existence

Nigeria
Next
21/11/2010

Due to the regular conflicts that occur between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the Gwagwada district of Chikun local government area of Kaduna State, a conflict resolution committee has now been set up in the council.

The conflicts usually arise over ownership of land between migrant herdsmen and indigenous farmers, with cattle invading farms and destroying crops; or cattle drinking from streams where humans drink. According to Habila Kaura Jatau, who is a farmer and the chief of Dutse, a village in the district, some portions of land far from the farms was initially allocated to the herdsmen, but due to climate change, pasture has dried up in that area and herdsmen are now occupying the same area with the farmers.

“Before, they gave the cattle rearers land far from the farmers, but with this change in weather, we are now mixed up. What they do sometimes is that after harvest, they rush down to where they can get feed for their cows. And since we are mixed together, in the rainy season, and the lack of food for the cattle, it would cause problem one way or the other between farmers and cattle rearers in that when they come to somebody’s farm, dispute will arise. We are already facing our own problem, because now it is very hard to produce anything without fertiliser, and you now come and destroy the crops, there will be problem”, he said.

Jamilu Sani, a Fulani herdsman in the community, said they have been migrating southwards over the years, basically looking for greener pasture for their cows.

“We have some problems because the cows do not have enough food to eat, so we have to travel far to where we can find food for them”, he said.

According to Mr. Jatau, such disputes are first taken to the village head, then to the district head, then to the local council, with the owner of the straying cattle usually asked to pay a monetary compensation to the farmer whose crop was destroyed.

“But even if the conflicts are resolved without violence, there will always be conflicts because we are still together and since places are developing, it is difficult to find bush where the cattle rearers can stay on their own”, Mr. Jatau said.

Moving South

According to Yahaya Ahmed, the chairman of the Developmental Association for Renewable Energies, DARE, it has been discovered that about 200 villages have disappeared in the top northern Nigeria due to desertification.

This was found during their survey to substantiate their claim of adverse conditions in the Sahel region of northern Nigeria, due to deforestation and desertification for the approval of their Clean Development Mechanism CDM project by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC. The project is distributing Save80 stove, a wood stove which cooks food for about 50 people using just one kilogramme of wood [dry sticks] as well as solar cookers. The Save80 stove is aid to be saving 80 % of trees in these regions.

“Since we could not get any useful information from the government, we decided to do the survey ourselves. So we started talking to migrants around Kaduna and Abuja; we discovered that about three-quarter of them had migrated from Yobe. That’s why we chose Yobe as our baseline.

“While we interacted with the people there, we discovered that about 200 villages have migrated from an area between a place called Dapchi, north of Damaturu, to the northern border of Nigeria with Niger Republic. The Sahara desert had taken over their villages and they had to migrate to different parts of the country, including Lagos”, Mr. Ahmed said.

These migrations do not happen only from northern Nigeria; some of the migrants also come from Niger Republic. According to Mr. Ahmed, it happens mostly in the dry season when many of the youth in the rural areas are idle.

They move into cities southwards and take up jobs as cobblers, Okada riders (commercial motorcyclists), and water vendors. They arrive cities like Lagos on trucks bringing beans, tomatoes, onions, and cows. Some return to the north to farm during rainy season, some don’t.

Decrease in farm yield

Adamu Tanko, an associate professor of geography and agricultural development and the head of Geography Department, Ado Bayero University, Kano, has been conducting a research on Climate Change and Adaptation, sponsored by Heinrich Boll Foundation, through Tubali, a non-profit organisation focused on rural development.

In Cifatake, a village in Kaduna State, he discovered a gradual decrease in the amount of rainfall from 1000-1200 mm about 50 years ago to 884-1000 mm in recent times. He also noted that rainy season now starts late April and ends early November, as against March to end of November that it used to be some years ago. Coupled with tree-felling for firewood, the vegetation cover is gone and erosion has set in, said Mr. Tanko, resulting in low yield. So, the people are taking up other professions as hunters and blacksmiths.

Climate change is to blame

This situation across northern Nigeria, which is linked to global warming and climate change, is putting a lot of pressure on the land in the middle-belt within the Guinea Savannah. This, according to some organisations studying the “ethno-religious” conflicts that have led to the death of hundreds of people in Jos and Kaduna, is the root of the conflicts.

“The conflicts that people say are religious are not. Ethnicity and religion are just the triggers because they are the major sources of identity for most Nigerians. The key issue is fight for economic and political control. Jos became a city where a lot people came because of the tin mining and the serene environment until it was divided into different zones then we started hearing of ‘indigenes’ and ‘settlers’ and the tussle began” said Sani Suleiman, programme manager, Emergency Relief and Peace Building, Justice Development and Peace Commission, JDPC, Jos.

Nnimmo Bassey, the executive director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), who was named winner of the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) in 2009, raised more alarm. He said Nigeria is not only threatened by the Sahara desert, with increasing temperature due to global warming, the country will lose coastal lands due to sea rise and hinterlands from gully erosion in the southeast.

Economic survival

“The violence in the middle-belt, particularly in Jos area, is not just an ethnic thing; it’s not people struggling for political posts; it has an environmental root. Because more pastoralists are going to come down from the North, the more the desert spreads and Lake Chad dries up.

“They have to look for good grazing land; fishermen are going to look for somewhere else to fish. And the more the Niger-Delta environment gets polluted, we will begin a system of eternal displacement from the South and also from the North. And the displaced people will migrate and they going to meet at the Middle-belt. Imagine if the southern part goes under water, more people will be naturally displaced.

“So, the violence we are seeing in the Middle-belt is a foretaste of what our children are going to face”, he said.

Mr. Bassey said one of the first steps in handling this environmental challenge is to stop gas flaring in the Niger-Delta, which is one of Africa’s biggest contribution to global warming.

Just as the desertification in the North, coastal erosion is gaining ground along the 853km Nigerian coastline. Properties along the coast like Goshen Beach Estate, Lekki, Lagos, are now being threatened.

Larry Awosika, the head of the Marine Geology and Geophysics Division of the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, NIOMR, said the sea was over 100 metres away when the estate was built in 2003. Now it is less than 20 metres away and the deep drain that was built to channel waste into the ocean is now completely filled with sand.

He said the regular ship wrecks that lie perpendicular to the sea shore accelerate the coastal erosion.

“The littoral drift, that is the movement of sediments in the near-shore, is usually from west to east. So these ship wrecks act as groins. On one side, there is deposition of sediments; while on the other side, there is rapid erosion”, he said.

Apart from the coastal erosion, experts say the recent flooding in various parts of the country, especially in the Lagos region, is a result of the ecological imbalance caused by climate change.

Climatic predictions

Victor Fodeke, head, Special Climate Change Unit, Federal Ministry of Environment, said climate change could exacerbate tension between and within countries, leading to politics of insecurity, as countries focus on protecting themselves from impacts.

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, predicts that between 75 and 250 million people in Africa will be affected by flooding in 2020, which will result in the destruction of traditional living environments, more limited access to clean water, decreasing food production from farms, forests, and aquaculture; and threats to food security.

Recent history in Nigeria points to the fact that if this prediction and other climate change predictions come through, more serious conflicts will most likely generate from the Middle Belt region than can be handled by the type of conflict resolution committee that currently exists in Chikun Council.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.

    

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