The Federal Government, in collaboration with the World Bank, has embarked on a $700m Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project against environmental degradation in Nigeria.
The project followed successes recorded in the Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) in mitigating adverse effects of soil and land degradation and environmental sustainability.
Among the objectives, ACReSAL is to increase the implementation of sustainable landscape management practices in targeted watersheds in northern Nigeria and strengthen Nigeria’s long-term enabling environment for an integrated climate-resilient landscape.
Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, who spoke during the ongoing ACReSAL Project Technical Work Plan Workshop, in Lagos State, said the project is one of the central components of President Muhammadu Buhari’s strategy in ensuring environmental sustainability and improving community livelihoods towards lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
The workshop, which started on August 4 and ends on August 13, would prepare the participating states on what to expect prior to disbursement.
The Minister enjoined Nigerians to avoid degradation of the environment, which has been causing climate change.
According to him, the project will also provide food security through motivated agricultural activities in the areas of concentration.
He said: “What we intend to do is to try as much as we can to get the various committees, participants and the beneficiaries motivated in agricultural activities. Now, the effect is that if they are not profitable, there will be more agricultural disasters and food shortages which will be terrible for us.”
Also, the Senior Environmental Specialist from the World Bank, Joy Iganya Agene, said the four-year project will target 3.1 million beneficiaries and restore one million hectares.
She said: “The most important part of the project is about building institutions, sustaining issues around land degradation, livelihood and others.
“The component of the project is totally dedicated to institutional support and management.”
She said the World Bank will fund the project and urged beneficiaries not to allow their political and personal interests to override the project.
Director-General, National Council on Climate Change, Dr Salisu Dahiru, said the project is aimed at reversing land degradation in semi-arid land of Nigeria as well as address the farmers-herders clashes.
He stressed that the project is not only covering the extreme Northern states, where there is desert encroachment, but also covers the central region of the country where you have states like Kogi, Kwara, FCT, Nasarawa and Benue.
The Acting National Project Coordinator, Anda Yalaks, said the outcome of the workshop would be passed to the steering committee for deliberations.
“We are here to ensure that what will make us deliver on this project is put in place and this will lead us to the Bank where the bank will grant us its ‘No Objection’.
“That is the approval given by the World Bank after which the project, ACReSAL, will be ready for disbursement and project implementation.”
Speaking earlier, Communications and Policy Advisor for Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) Nigeria, Chijioke Okorie, said the company will provide policy platforms, actualisation and recommendations that will actualise the project.