Archives for posts with tag: NEMA

By: Abubakar Jimoh

Following the recent prediction by the National Meteorological Agency (NIMET) saying there may be more and intense flooding in 2013, the need for immediate collaborations and rational brainstorming on recurrent issues of flood disasters in the country was brought to fore, when the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) organized two-day Consultative Workshop on flood prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response.

Apparently, the occasion was meant to create a platform that would provide useful information and recommendations about the anticipatedflood disasters; primarily to create a better understanding and scrutiny of issues relating to emergency response strategies particularly by officials of the agency in collaboration with all stakeholders on disaster management.

The forum, which was cosmopolitan in nature was honoured by stakeholders in disaster management who were drawn from public and private organizations, as well as from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Health, National Space Research and Development Agency, Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence, Federal Fire Service, Nigerian Meteorological Agency, United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Nigeria Red Cross Society, Media Information Committee on Emergency Management , UNICEF, OXFAM, YADI, OCHA, JADI, CCFN, among others.

While commenting on the drastic increase in hydro-climatic disasters the country has witnessed in the past few years with a growing spatial coverage and number of communities impacted, Director-General of NEMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sani-Sidi noted that the recurring floods and the attendant hazards must serve as a wakeup call to emergency management stakeholders, governments at all levels, individuals and the organized private sector to rise up their responsibility on disaster risk reduction.

His words: “This emerging trend of annual floods couple with a wide ranging human and nature induced emergencies experienced in recent times have put to test our national resilience and pose a challenge to emergency management stakeholders in Nigeria. Disaster such as large-scale of flood of 2012 can retard our national development process and hinder the achievement of projected national development agenda including the Millennium Development Goals.”

The need for us to re-strategize and foster stronger collaboration on principled and effective disaster management remains paramount. Despite the competing demands on NEMA stakeholders, we must work together to protect and improve the lives of vulnerable citizens as well as enhance their resilience”, he said.

In his own remarks at the occasion, Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who pointed out that the devastating experience of 2012 has brought about the need for the immediate sensitization on the impacts of global warming. He commended NEMA for organizing consultative workshop that would help improve preparedness and create awareness in the country beyond that of 2012.

Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, urged the states to learn from the early warning alert on the year 2012 flooding which was totally neglected by some states; and exercise necessary preventions and preparedness against the current year.

Some of the participants had in there good will massages attributed the devastating 2012 flood disasters to the global climate change which was aggravated by increase in volume of rainfall and the release of excess water from Lagdo dam upstream of River Benue in neighbouring Cameroun which also coincided with the release of water from Kanji, Jebba and Shiroro Dams into Rivers Benue and Niger.

Others identified causes of the floods to include poor drainage networks and inadequate culverts/canals, obstructions of water ways, weak soil texture/structure, land topography, ineffective management of solid wastes, deforestation, land degradation, sedimentation of aquatic ecosystem, precipitation and wind effects.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that over the last 25years the average global surface temperature rose by 0.56c by the end of the century, while a further rise by 1.4-5.8c has been projected by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). For instance, in Nigeria, Mean annual temperature has increased by 0.9c since 1960, an average of 0.20c per decade. The past decade was the hottest of the past 150 years, and possibly of the past millennium. The hottest 22years on record have occurred in the 25 years since 1980. The IPCC forecasts a global temperature increase of 1.4ºC to 5.8ºC above 1990 temperatures by 2100. Without doubt, the vulnerable populations across the globe are already feeling the impacts, irrespective of the level of economic development.

In order to mitigate the impacts of flood, the forum recommended provision of necessary working tools, equipment and training to strengthen the operations of National/State Emergency Management gencies; proper land use to minimize overgrazing, deforestation; massive public enlightenment, advocacy and sensitization of communities on flood issues; improved Early Warning System; immediate promotion and adoption of Disaster Risk Reduction mechanism that will reduce the impact of future flood events; dredging/channelization of rivers and construction of appropriate drainages, culvert and canals in the affected state to avert a reoccurrence; avoid setting up of permanent structures (e.g. Buildings) in areas vulnerable to flooding.

Moreover, they suggested that mechanisms for bilateral co-operation between Nigeria and her neighboring countries particularly, Niger and Cameroun, for joint-management of the trans-boundary waters should be strengthened. The participant urged adequate provision of buffer dams to accommodate excess water being released from Lagdo dam and other major rivers; provision of solid waste management facilities by State Governments; development of Humanitarian Action Plan for humanitarian actors to key into early recovery plan; and effective Humanitarian forum.

Abubakar Jimoh is the National Coordinator, Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI), and lives in Abuja.
abujimoh01@gmail.com

BY: ABUBAKAR JIMOH

The increasing rate of insecurity in some parts of Nigeria is a clear indication that security of lives and property is by far eluding the citizens on a daily bases.

It is glaring that the rate of insecurity is rooted from diverse and complex phenomena ranging from socio-economic, political and ethno-cultural disagreements to criminal activities across the country. The situation has exposed the executive, legislative, judiciary, government officials, traditional rulers, their subjects, and family members to all manners of threats such as kidnappings and killings making them relocating their relatives outside the country.

Apparently, the amplifying level of unemployment has dreadfully contributed to other social vices such as armed robbery, pick pocketing, prostitution, juvenile delinquencies, cultism, indecent partying, post-electoral violence, and grossly uncontrollable level of insecurity in the country.

Following the copious security challenges facing the country, Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Muhammad Sani-Sidi, recently stated: “Insecurity and violent conflicts confronting the nation arise from socio-economic struggles, drought and desertification, massive urbanization, landslides, weak traditional, socio-political institutions, boundary disputes, ignorance, intolerance among various groups and communities, unequal distribution of resources among others.”

Similarly, a recent investigation by the Youths Against Disaster initiative (YADI) revealed that desperate, intolerant and ruthless contests among political parties have also contributed largely to the ongoing insecurity in the country. Where political leaders and their followers have often resulted in violence, security breaches, killings and destruction, carnages, brigandage, massacre, butchery and bestiality which threaten the very democracy that they seek to partake.

YADI further urged all efforts to tackle insecurity in the country to integrate consent and cooperation of the ethnic nationalities and religious groups. This is essential to the existence and continuity of Nigeria as a nation. Since Nigeria is a political unit made up of over two hundred ethnic and diverse religious groups. Unity and peaceful cooperation among these groups must be ensured to avoid such circumstances that would result to bloody conflicts among them.

Encouraging social cohesion among various groups in the country with key interests in national socio-political development is another strategy to combat insecurity. Each constituent part of the country should be involved in the national socio-political and economic decisions. This will not only help to install the years of lost confidence in leaderships, but also to achieve national socio-political stability.

Workable efforts must be made to stop the violence and proliferation of small arms and ammunitions across the country. This has long contributed to the intensifying rate of insecurity. It can be addressed through comprehensive reform of our national security sector. Some of the security challenges are self-inflicted and reinforced by greediness and poor security institutions.

Due care and calculated thoughts must be exercised in government’s response to armed violence; since various attempts to tackle conflicts in forceful manner have provoked an escalation of violence generating hefty support for armed groups and strengthening the positions of militants in Nigeria.

Regrettably, the intensifying rate of unemployment in the country has heightened the crime proportions and threats to the national security. The collective frustration among young job-seekers no doubt, is one of the single largest contributing factors to the ethnic and religious insecurity in the country; since it is increasingly becoming difficult for them to secure anything other than part-time or temporary work such as pipeline vandalisms, armed robberies, Cyber-crimes, hire assassins, kidnappings, and socio-political thugs.

Recalled, in 2012, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi raised alarm that the current security upheaval and internal insurrection all over the country were as a result of severe poverty and rising unemployment. Government must rethink and restructure the economic system of the country by creating enabling environment that encourages industrialisation.

Moreover, in the last five decades, Nigeria has repeatedly witnessed conflicts of diverse degree; triggering socio-economic, physical and emotional imbalances among the people.

Some of the resultant effects of communal conflicts are manifold loss of lives and property, investment opportunities, hunger and starvation, open violence, wars, mass strikes, and other forms of socio-economic disorders. Given the consistent rate of eruptions, almost every part of the country has been left vulnerable to one form of communal conflicts or another.

Just like most parts of the world, communal crises in Nigeria are multi-dimensional—religious, political, economic, social and ethno-linguistic. For instance, an African economist, Gesiye Angaye observed that the divisive interplay of politics, ethnics and religion in the country has led to rising nationalism and militancy of various ethnic movements, seeking self-determination, local autonomy, separate identity and true federalism.

The situation is not unconnected with the disintegration of our value system, especially among the unemployed youths who are always manipulated by warlords for selfish interests. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons, trans-nationalization of terrorism, globalization, and unequal distribution of resources are issues traditionally identified with conflicts.

Efforts to tackle communal clashes have received series of institutional and administrative attentions in the country. Among these are ‘Operation Ceto-Maza’, Free-toll Call and Distress Call Centres initiated under the leadership of Director General NEMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi. These proactive measures have turned out to help averting hundreds of deaths and millions of naira property that would have been lost to frequent crises in the country.

In a bid to reduce rumour mongering and reckless speculations that are noted for some crises, NEMA has collaborated with relevant stakeholders to build the capacity of Nigerians in ICT and in the application of social media networking in conflict and disaster early warning response, and in confronting misinformation that exacerbates conflicts and insecurity.

Strict control must be maintained against the supply and use of arms and ammunitions as inadequate measures on these have fasten the outbreak of crises in the country and empowered warlords to accelerate conflicts rather than finding peaceful resolution.

More importantly, effort to resolve conflicts should give priority to the roles of traditional rulers, community/village heads, and the religious leaders who are likely to be more informed on the root causes of the clashes. They should be given chance to identify how their communities are affected by the conflict, how the obstacles to peace negotiations can be removed, and how traditional practices can offer alternative ways of ending conflict. This will help to attain post conflict reconciliation, peace building, and prevent reoccurrence of conflicts.

There is need for rethinking on policy and institutional means of dealing with security related matters arising in the country. Over the years, the security operatives have decried the lack of clear document on national security policy which has remained one of the major problems confronting the country on how to tackle security challenges whenever it arises.

Also, the security policy and institutional frameworks must be strategically incorporated into the training courses of our military institutions such as Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), Nigerian Military Intelligence (NMI), Police Mobile Force Training School, Police Colleges, Police Academy, and Detective Colleges. Having a practicable national security policy at these levels will help in adequate delivery and professional development of strategic leaders required to meet the global challenges of maintaining peace and security.

Proper orientation and adequate training should mandated on our national political contestants at federal, state and local government levels through the establishment of programmes of cultural and political education and orientation in accordance with the basic teaching of democracy to make them imbibe principles and practices essential for democratic sustainability. Such programmes must also address and keep them aware of specific tendencies that create security breach and concerns in the country.

It has been argued that the widespread insecurity in the country seemed to be defined by organised criminality and by political and sectarian insurgency. The inability of the police to provide law and order in the country and the resulting insecurity has led some individuals and communities to acquire small arms for protection. The Police can be more effective if it is better equipped, better paid, and motivated.

Meanwhile, the national security vote must be judiciously utilized; as the ongoing security situation in the country has allowed for huge allocation to the security-related matters. These should be skillfully manned towards the provision of adequate training and welfare service of the security operatives, and acquisition of sophisticated modern security equipment.

Advanced approaches must be exploited in addressing the national security challenges. These include adequate deployment of the modern Internet Protocol-based, Electronic Access Control System (EACS), Intruder Alarm System (IDS) and Perimeter Detection System (PIDS) which are very essential technological innovations that can help in the area of physical security and building management system.

Abubakar Jimoh is the National Coordinator, Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI), and lives in Abuja.
abujimoh01@gmail.com

ABUBAKAR JIMOH

It is no more news that the emergence of lead poison in the last few years has led to the death of hundreds, especially the young ones across the country.

The dreadful infection called ‘lead poison’ has been described as a naturally occurring metal found in deposits of ores, containing elements commonly used as a solder in home plumbing systems and in water service pipes designed to transport water from municipal water into homes.

A recent investigation conducted by the Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI) revealed that the interference of lead with a variety of body processes is poisonous to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems; notably among children. This results to potential permanent learning and behavior disorders, convulsion, paralysis and even death.

Similarly, a study conducted by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in collaboration with national and international stakeholders on epidemics control confirmed that lead poison arises from such human daily activities such as placing lead objects or fingers in mouth after handling lead, breathing dust that contains lead, solder used in plumbing, dust and chips from deteriorating lead paint on interior surfaces, old/imported toys or furniture, curtain weights, pottery, porcelain, leaded glass, and hobby materials, contaminated breast milk, among others.

It is noteworthy that a bid to tackle the deadly epidemic resulted to NEMA partnership with both national and international stakeholders primarily to sensitize the general public on the preventive measures against the impacts of lead poison.

Consequently, National Workshop on the Mitigation of the Risk of Lead Poisoning Associated with Gold Mining and Processing among Rural Communities was held in Zamfara State in March 2011. In his key note address at the Workshop, the Director General NEMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sani-Sidi warned against the ongoing excessive and unjust mining activities among rural communities in Nigeria and the need for constant Environmental Impact Assessment by the state governments.

His words: “War against lead poison can be won through effective environmental management, land use planning and strict compliance to occupational safety and industrial regulations, as the society exploited its natural resources to sustain livelihood.”

In its further examination, YADI noted that laboratory analysis of the blood lead level is the main tool in diagnosing and assessing the severity of lead poisoning. Medical screening is conducted to test the blood level of the affected persons and their vulnerability to lead.

More importantly, parents must ensure personal hygiene not only for themselves, but also their children through frequent hand washing, and discourage them from putting their hands in mouth. They should also increase their intake of calcium and iron.

While households are advised on the regular practice of running water in the morning to flush out the most contaminated water, or adjusting the water’s chemistry to prevent corrosion of pipes. They should also use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and for making baby formula. It has been argued that hot water is more likely to contain higher amounts of lead.

On their own parts, health professionals have called on individuals to lower childhood exposures to lead; while urging the government to strengthen the environmental regulations that limit the amount of lead in soil, water, air, household dust, and products.

Also, there is need for the adequate review and full implementation of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) Act of 1988 in addition to the existing administrative mandates of the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administrative Control (NAFDAC), National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to help in achieving effectiveness in control and proper environmental management as well as maintaining adequate check on both local and imported commodities.

Precaution is always better than cure! Regularly wash children’s hands and toys which can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Prevent children from playing in bare soil, constantly wet-mop floors, and wet-wipe window components as household dust is a major source of lead. If possible, provide them with sandboxes.

In the lead-prone environment, individuals should create barriers between living areas and lead sources. Governments of the affected communities should institute a sufficient clean-up programme. All sources of lead must be isolated until the completion of the environmental clean-up. To protect children living in the zones, parents should create temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape to cover holes in walls or to block children’s access to other sources of lead.

BY: ABUBAKAR JIMOH

In recent times, water pollution has emerged as one of the dreadful environmental challenges facing Nigeria; as many rivers and streams have become contaminated by mostly natural and man-induced activities.

Water pollution involves contamination of streams, lakes, underground water, bays, or oceans by substances harmful to living things.

It is undisputable that all living organisms largely depend on water for their livelihood. Some live in it, while others drink it. Also the survival of man, animals and plants depend on water that is moderately pure; and they cannot subsist if their water is loaded with toxic chemicals or harmful bacteria. Water has always been a vital resource for human beings.

However, the power conferred by fossil fuels and modern technology, people have rerouted rivers, pumped up deep groundwater, and by so doing polluted the earth’s water supply as never before.

As Nigeria grows socio-economically, it has suffered from series of water pollution; most especially in the Niger-Delta area of the country where land and water surfaces have been contaminated with Crude Oil activities by the Oil and Gas industries sited in the region. The oil spills and burnoff of petroleum and natural gas industries as well as clearance of vegetation have seriously damaged the land, vegetation, and most waterways in the region. This phenomenon has resulted to a number of health damages, and thousands of death since the discovery of crude oil in 1950s.

A study carried out by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in collaboration with International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) discovered that several activities have accounted for water pollution in the country. Among these are petroleum products which get into water mainly by means of accidental spills from ships, tanker trucks, pipelines, and leaky underground storage tanks, pipeline thefts; composed chemical substances used to kill unwanted animals and plants on farms or in suburban yards; unethical disposal of agro-industrial hazardous wastes; excessive organic matter like fertilizers and other nutrients used to promote plant growth on farms and in gardens that find their way into water; floodwater from croplands, strip mines, and roads; improper dumping of debris.

In a bid to combat problems of water pollution across the country, Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI) has called for the immediate review and full implementation of various Nigerian Environmental Use Regulation. Environmental Protection Agencies should be technically and administratively strategized with mandate to sets standards for land use, environmental utilities, and industrial activities in the country.

Recalled, in 1988 Nigerian government established the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) to address problems of desertification, oil pollution, and land degradation, but the FEPA recorded little or no success. Whereas, in 1995 the weaken and fragmented Environmental Agency witnessed further inept performance after the execution of a famous writer, late Ken Saro-Wiwa and other nine Ogbonis following their public demonstrations against environmental degradations in the Niger-Delta.

Effective public enlightenment programme must be put in place against dumping of contaminant by individuals and industries. This will require the collaborative efforts of both public and private individuals to discourage people from dumping contaminants like used engine oil, down grates which may pollute nearby waterways.

Also, householders and farmers are urged to be careful in their use of garden pesticides and fertilizers to avoid contaminated runoff and eutrophication. Excessive use of fertilizer by famers and agro-industries must be discouraged in the country.

YADI confirmed that Cadmium in fertilizer derived from sewage sludge can be absorbed by crops. If these crops are eaten by humans in sufficient amounts, the metal can cause diarrhea and, over time, liver and kidney damage. Lead can as well get into water from lead pipes and solder in older water systems. Through such circumstance, children exposed to lead in water can suffer mental retardation.

Moreover, ethical afforestation practices are expected of farmers. These include environmental protection using traditional techniques such as planting of different crops in a single field at once to cover the ground more evenly, thereby reducing erosion and increasing soil fertility; planting and maintaining farmland trees and hedgerows, also to reduce erosion.

Abubakar Jimoh is the National Coordinator, Youths Against Disaster (YADI), and lives in Abuja.
abujimoh01@yahoo.com

BY: ABUBAKAR JIMOH

After its independent in 1960, Nigeria has repeatedly witnessed conflicts of diverse degree; triggering socio-economic, physical and emotional imbalances among the people.

Apparently, some of the resultant effects of communal conflicts are manifold loss of lives and property, investment opportunities, hunger and starvation, open violence, wars, mass strikes, and other forms of socio-economic disorders. Given the consistent rate of eruptions, almost every part of the country has been left vulnerable to one form of communal conflicts or another.

It is noteworthy that like most parts of the world, communal crises in Nigeria are multi-dimensional—religious, political, economic, social and ethno-linguistic. For instance, an African economist, Gesiye Angaye noted that the divisive interplay of politics, ethnics and religion in the country has led to rising nationalism and militancy of various ethnic movements, seeking self-determination, local autonomy, separate identity and true federalism.

The situation is not unconnected with the disintegration of our value system, especially among the youths who are always manipulated by warlords for selfish interests. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons, trans-nationalization of terrorism, globalization, and unequal distribution of resources are issues traditionally identified with conflicts.

Also, the Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI) gathered that the system of artificial and arbitrary boundaries that split ethnic groups among different local government areas and states in Nigeria are responsible for boundary disputes, neglect, oppression, domination, exploitation, victimization, discrimination, marginasation, nepotism, intolerance and demands for secession by some groups.

It could be recalled that in 2012, at a 2-Day Seminar organized by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in collaboration with the Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) in Lafia, Nasarawa State, the Director General of NEMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sani-Sidi attributed insecurity and violent conflicts confronting the nation to socio-economic struggles, drought and desertification, massive urbanization, landslides, unequal distribution of resources, ignorance, intolerance among various groups and communities.

Efforts to tackle communal clashes have received series of institutional and administrative attentions in the country. Among these are ‘Operation Ceto-Maza’, Free-toll Call and Distress Call Centres initiated under the leadership of Alhaji Sani-Sidi. These proactive measures have turned out to help averting hundreds of deaths and millions of naira property that would have been lost to frequent crises in the country.

In a bid to reduce rumour mongering and reckless speculations that are noted for some crises, NEMA has called on relevant stakeholders to build the capacity of Nigerians in ICT and in the application of social media networking in conflict and disaster early warning response, and in confronting misinformation that exacerbates conflicts and insecurity.

On its own part, YADI encourages governments at all levels while seeking to resolve conflicts to first identify the different dynamics of the conflicts; as two conflicts, even if occurred in the same area, may not be viewed from same perception. In this regard, they must conduct a critical review and analysis of existing conflicts to be able to forecast and understand futuristic threats regarding the conflicts.

Strict control must be maintained against the supply and use of arms and ammunitions as inadequate measures on these have fasten the outbreak of crises in the country and empowered warlords to accelerate conflicts rather than finding peaceful resolution.

Effort to resolve conflicts should give priority to the roles of traditional rulers, community/village heads, and the religious leaders who are likely to be more informed on the root causes of the clashes. They should be given chance to identify how their communities are affected by the conflict, how the obstacles to peace negotiations can be removed, and how traditional practices can offer alternative ways of ending conflict. This will help to attain post conflict reconciliation, peace building, and prevent reoccurrence of conflicts.

In order to avoid the conflict of class struggles, there must be equitable distribution of power, wealth, status and responsibilities among all ethnic communities in the country. Equality must be reinstalled in our traditional institutions and judiciary system; as national objectives can only be achieved through consideration for individuals’ fairness and justice before law.

Thus, individuals must shun undesirable elements that could capitalize on insecurity to attack innocent citizens; by taking it part of their civil responsibility to report a predicted or suspected crisis in their domain to the appropriate authority.

Various social and traditional institutions in communities should always encourage their members on attitudinal change in their mindset and proper orientation toward others. This can be achieved through proper education and enlightenment. The institutions should be operationally and structurally fortified for the inculcation of humility and patriotism in their members. Also, education institutions at all levels should concentrate on imparting useful knowledge, discipline and morality in students.

Due consideration must be given to the national integration and economic progress through institution of good governance at all levels. Patriotic efforts must be made towards poverty alleviation, and employment opportunities; as warlords would always source for idle populations who they can manipulate into ethnic, religious, political and class conflicts using food and material enticements.

Moreover, it is evident that during the dry season, low feedstuff and low water in rivers would trigger an early movement of herds in search of pasture and water as early as December/January, thereby increasing the risk of conflicts between herdsmen and farmers. YADI has encouraged all levels of Government to make drinkable water available for both man and animals in water deficit areas, through the provision of sufficient wells or boreholes in the affected communities.

Farmers are advised to start planting at the appropriate period, consciously use their food reserve, and improve feeds during the growing season in accordance with guidance and advice of state agriculture services. Traditional rulers and community heads across the country should encourage their herdsmen to make adequate provisions for their animal feeds against dry season; through massive storage of animal feedstuffs during the growing season.

Abubakar Jimoh is the National Coordinator, Youths Against Disaster (YADI), and lives in Abuja.
abujimoh01@yahoo.com

YOUTHS AGAINST DISASTER INITIATIVE (YADI)
PRESS RELEASE
Following a renewed clash between members of Offa and Erin-Ile communities of Kwara state leading to the death of 10 people and destruction of property worth millions of naira on Monday, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Youth Against Disaster Initiative (YADI) observed that:
1. The system of artificial and arbitrary boundaries that split ethnic groups among different local government areas and states in Nigeria could be responsible for disputes, neglect, oppression, domination, exploitation, victimization, discrimination, marginalization, nepotism, intolerance as well as the constant demand for secession by some groups.
2. Over the years, Offa and Erin-Ile communities have involved in incessant cases of avoidable boundary and land disputes with their attendant threat to life and property.
3. The violent conflicts between the two communities have posed serious challenges to their socio-economic well-being.
4. The various crises have been heightened by weak traditional and socio-political institutions, ignorance, and intolerance among members of the communities.
5. The rising unemployment rate, illiteracy and joblessness among the youths have extensively exposed the two communities to undesirable elements that could capitalize on insecurity to attack innocent citizens.
The Group recommended that:
1. The state government should first identify the dynamics of conflicts between the two communities; as two incidents, even if occurred in the same area, may not be viewed from same perception.
2. Effort to resolve the conflicts should give priority to the roles of traditional rulers, community/village heads, and the religious leaders who are likely to be more informed on the root causes of the clashes.
3. The tradition institutions in both communities should always encourage their members on attitudinal change in their mindset and proper orientation toward others.
4. The state and local governments should engage the jobless youths in the communities with basic knowledge, skill acquisitions, and local technical support to promote self-help skills as essential principles toward peace building.
5. The security agencies should quickly interfere and restore order, without resorting to tactics capable of worsening the crisis.
We commend the prompt intervention of the of the search and rescue team of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Kwara state government and other stakeholders who had helped to curtail the escalation of the crisis in the areas.

Abubakar Jimoh
National Coordinator, Youths Against Disasters Initiative (YADI)

BY: ABUBAKAR JIMOH

Over the years, desertification and drought are two related disasters largely contributing to high rate of famine, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria.

In the analysis of the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), desertification was described as a process involving land degradation in a dryland area resulting to environmental crises, such as loss of biodiversity and global warming.

Similarly, drought is a condition of unusually dry weather in a geographic area, where rainfall is normally present; resulting to water shortage that seriously interferes with human activities such as water-supply reservoir emptiness, wells dry up, crop damage and other consequences which trigger ‘desertification’.

Unarguably, desertification and drought have continuous to sabotage the nation’s socio-economic, food security and employment opportunities. For instance, about 35 million people in northern part of the country are reportedly suffering from the dangers of desertification. While not less than 50,000 farmers in about 100 villages in Yobe state have been affected by sand dunes.

Also, it was estimated that over 55 million people have been seriously affected in Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states; and approximately 350,999 hectares of land is lost to desertification annually.

It is noteworthy to recall that phenomena of drought had triggered the recent crisis which erupted between Gwari farmers and Fulani herdsmen as a result of encroachment of herds of cattle into farmlands in Gwako, under Gwagwalada Local Government Area of the Federal Capital Territory.

Not surprisingly, after the crisis, Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI) observed that during the dry season, low feedstuff and low water in rivers would trigger an early movement of herds in search of pasture and water as early as December/January, thereby increasing the risk of conflicts between herdsmen and farmers. Overgrazing and overcrowding settlements could further intensify conflicts between herdsmen and farmers in the affected areas.

In its surveillance, YADI revealed that communal clash has remained a persistent phenomenon between farmers and herdsmen across the country, especially during the dry season starting from November/December every year. Also, as struggles persist against low feed purchasing power and the general fall in prices of animals as a result of deterioration in animal body conditions in dry season, the country is expected to witness further Farmers-Herdsmen conflicts across the country.

More importantly, a study carried out by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) under the leadership of leadership of the Director-General, Alhaji Muhammed Sani-Sidi in collaboration with United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) showed that both natural and human activities have contributed to the menace of desertification and drought. Such activities include inadequate rain fall, harsh climate condition, over-cultivation which exhausts soil, overgrazing involving removal of vegetation that prevents and poorly drained irrigation.

In addition, Justin Uwazuruonye in 2010 reported that excessive heat and dust could further result in the upsurge of diseases such as meningitis and asthma. Millet the main crop in the north would experience crop failure and losses culminating into localised production shortages. The situation could lead to low food supply at market and household levels, unusually high food prices at harvest, reducing food access for the most affected population.

While low water levels in rivers and pounds will lead to low production of dry season farming and fishing, resulting in poor income. Low hydro power generation could hamper economic activities due to decline in electricity production earlier than usual.

In a bid to minimize the impact of this hazard on households in the vulnerable areas, Alhaji Sani Sidi in 2010 has gone into technical partnership with National Space Research and Development Agency (NSRDA) and United Nations Space Based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UNI-SPIDER). This led to the adoption of space-based technology to assist in obtaining instant information that could enhance disasters prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

The space technology is used to display spatial location of the drought vulnerable communities, visualize the potential risk points of interest, highlight the possible save areas for the evacuation purpose in case of emergency, and take inventory of critical facilities available. After this, earlier warning alert is issued to the population at risk.

YADI recommended that all levels of Government should make good drinking water available for both man and animals in water deficit areas, through the provision of sufficient wells or boreholes in the affected communities.

While urging farmers to start planting at the appropriate period, consciously use their food reserve, and improve feeds during the growing season in accordance with guidance and advice of state agriculture services. Traditional rulers and community heads across the country should encourage the herdsmen to make adequate provisions for their animal feeds against dry season; through massive storage of animal feedstuffs during the growing season.

Traditional rulers and community heads should institute alternative means of conflict resolution, especially between their farmers and herdsmen to avoid undesirable elements that could capitalize on the insecurity in the country to attack innocent citizens.

In addition, YADI advices traditional rulers to encourage active participation of their community members in the ongoing NEMA’s campaigns and sensitization on Disaster Risks Reduction (DRR), which includes mitigating against the upsurge of desertification and drought across the country.

Among such measures instituted by Alhaji Sani Sidi since 2010 are constant seminars, workshops, public education and enlightenment involving advocacy visitation to states and grassroots, purposely to build disaster-resilient communities against the impacts of global warming.

Upholding ecological management practices such as planting of trees, shelterbelts to protect soil from wind and water erosion are found to have been effectively adopted in various developing nations like Bolivia, Mali, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, among others in combating their environmental challenges.

Nigerian Communities are advised to follow their counterparts and put in place appropriate ecosystem management to conserve major ecological services; and abide by ethical use of natural resources to meet the socioeconomic, political and cultural needs of current and future generations.

Encouraging local participation and community education on environmental matters and land use innovation is a proven solution to tackle the hazards of drought and desertification. This should include adequate sensitization concerning various aspects of drought and water scarcity to predict, and articulate local methods and strategies which could help to minimize the effects of drought and desertification.

Following a study conducted in 2009 by University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka to mitigate communities’ vulnerability to the effects of climate change, it was discovered that through community-based participatory risk assessment, the community coping capacity would be enhanced to share responsibilities to reduce risk, and take decision to battle water scarcity and seasonal droughts.

In area of education and enlightenment to enhance local skills and methods, farmers’ needs must be fully understood or met by the scientific community, especially the needs to adequately reduce the training to local language that every farmer and community members can understand. This will encourage a wide participation and achievement of the training objectives.

Effort should be made to reduce desertification by developing sustainable sources of income for rural women as an alternative to their commerce in wood. These alternative livelihoods in the words of include vegetable gardens, literacy and financial education, training in soap making and in making energy-efficient stoves for rural women.

The benefits of such project have been highlighted in the words of the Coordinator Malian Rural Women Development Programme, Johanna Togola in 2009 that diversification of the communities income sources, and reduction in wood-cutting, will mitigate the future threat of intensified climate change and weather-related hazards such as flooding, landslides, drought and desertification.

Empowering the communities with education about the environment, and giving them the skills to diversify their livelihoods is an environmentally conscious way that can lead to significant success in effecting change. The States’ Environmental Agencies can organize environmental education for the desertification and drought vulnerable communities to address challenges of deforestation, erosion, cutting wood, farming, and water, as well as to improve stoves and planting trees.

Communities must therefore avoid unethical land use practices like overgrazing, overexploitation of plants, trampling of soils, and unsustainable irrigation.

Moreover, instituting poverty eradication programs in the degraded communities will be a welcome development to secure the socio-economic and environmental conditions for prosperity, stability and equity. This can be achieved through the joint effort of local communities, regional organizations, governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, and other related stakeholders.

Abubakar Jimoh is the National Coordinator, Youths Against Disaster (YADI), and lives in Abuja.
abujimoh01@yahoo.com