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FG in quest for immediate climate action

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By Usman Oladimeji

Prioritizing coastal regions in addressing climate-related issues is crucial.

The Nigerian federal government recognizes the immediate need to address the impact of climate change on food security, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services nationwide, in light of the increasing threat of rising sea levels in southern cities. Professor Joseph Utsev, the Coordinating Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, emphasized the importance of prioritizing cities like Lagos and coastal regions in addressing climate-related challenges such as flooding and waterborne diseases to ensure economic prosperity on a global scale. This message was delivered during the National Workshop on State Action Plan on Climate Change in Abuja.

Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, was found to have the highest deforestation rate globally, with 3.7% of its forests disappearing annually. Despite being home to Africa’s biggest mangrove forest, only six percent of it is currently under protection. A recent report from the United Nations points out that Nigeria is facing challenges with their hydropower systems due to drought, decreased rainfall, and higher air temperatures. These issues are also affecting agricultural production and fishing, leading to a decline in food security and impacting health and nutrition. The major sources of Nigeria’s greenhouse gas emissions are the energy sector, deforestation, and changes in land use.

Waters have been severely impacted by climate change.

Various concerns about climate change were highlighted during the organized workshop, where stakeholders gathered to discuss devising methods and approach to address the impact of climate change bevelling the country. The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Alhaji Aliyu Shinkafi, who represented Professor Utsev, pointed out that the country’s waters have been severely impacted by climate change. This poses a threat to essential aspects like food security, hygiene, and sanitation in the nation. He believes that the country’s water infrastructure has been significantly damaged by climate change due to harmful environmental practices. This highlights the urgency of implementing climate actions to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 13. The effects of climate change on this industry are extensive and wide-ranging.

The impact of climate change on water infrastructure has led to increased pollution and disruptions in water availability, supply systems, and sanitation. As the effects of climate change become more apparent, it is crucial that immediate action is taken to address these issues. Collaboration among all stakeholders is essential for Nigeria to effectively combat climate change. He urged the workshop attendees to take advantage of the platform provided to come up with effective solutions to the threat that was jeopardizing the country’s ability to achieve food security and access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation services.

Tinubu has been vocal about the need for aid to combat the menace.

According to Dr. Jane Bevan, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Chief of WASH, Nigeria has been identified as the second most vulnerable country to climate-related risks in 2024. She highlighted the looming threat of waterborne disease outbreaks and emphasized the urgent need for Nigerians to prioritize preparedness and disaster prevention measures. He believed that Nigeria could secure international funding to address the impacts of climate change through careful planning and a clear strategy. All other attendees concurred on the importance of adopting eco-friendly practices to protect the environment moving forward.

Among the ways to combat climate change is by participating in activities like planting trees, unclogging drainage channels, and creating an effective national action plan to seek external funding. This workshop attracted attendees from various sectors including government officials, private companies, and international donor organizations. Ever since taking on the role of President, Bola Tinubu has been vocal about Nigeria’s requirement for financial aid from developed nations to combat climate change. His stance on energy policies, like the previous government, has been consistent. Tinubu recognizes the importance of decreasing dependence on the oil and gas industry in favour of solar power.

Related Article: FG counters climate change with NCCC- CAA 

In the twilight months of 2023, Vice President Kashim Shettima had also noted the government’s commitment to tackling climate change issues such as desertification, coastal erosion, and flooding. By working closely with stakeholders and organizations, the administration is taking proactive measures to address these environmental issues. The Nigerian National Defence College (NDC) shared its report Enhancing National Security through Climate Resilience: Nigeria’s Strategic Plan for 2035 with the government in August 2023. The report suggests implementing various strategies to meet the goals of climate adaptation programs over the short, medium, and long term.

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