Land degradation is a phenomenon that affects everyone either through food insecurity, climate change, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, inflated food prices and environmental hazards. The federal government of Nigeria recently announced that land degradation is projected to worsen in the country due to increasing population. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Mr. Ibrahim Yusuf, who spoke at the commemoration of World Desertification and Drought Day in Abuja, stated that land degradation is a pressing issue in Nigeria.
Represented by Mrs. Mable Okirigho-Emmanuel, the Director Department of Drought and Desertification Management in the Ministry, the Permanent Secretary stated that without remedial action, land degradation would wreck more havoc in Nigeria. Speaking on the theme of this year’s celebration, “Her Land Her Right: Advancing Gender Equality and Land Restoration Goals,” he noted that there has been a proposal for land restoration as a significant measure for reversion of degradation, while tackling the problems it is responsible for.
Women have unequal and limited access to the control of land.
Gender-responsive actions are necessary for effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of land restoration programmes and projects. Also, security and equity of land rights for women and vulnerable groups is significant to ensure land restoration. He noted that it is a known fact that women are not granted equal and unlimited access to the control of land, even though it is also known that they are highly significant to the health of the land. In every part of the world, women encounter various challenges in aspects of securing land rights, restricting their ability to prosper.
Therefore, investment in the equal access of women to land and with less related assets is equal to investments in their future and humanity’s future. It is high time women and girls were recognized at the forefront of global land restoration and drought resilience efforts. As country party to the UNCDD, Nigeria is required to ensure consideration and domestication of decisions of the Conference of the parties. One of such decisions is responsible land governance and tenure rights which are sensitive to gender for enhancement of the livelihoods and wellbeing of women and vulnerable people.
Inclusiveness & active participation for land restoration.
Resultantly, it is necessary to join the global community for revisiting and reviewing land laws and governance and customary rights to tackle gender inequality for the security of land rights, thereby encouraging and empowering women and vulnerable groups to own access to land. This act will aid the promotion of inclusiveness and active participation in sustainability of land management measures and land restoration programmes. Director General of National Council on Climate Change, Dr. Salisu Dahiru, stated that there is a likelihood that about three-quarters of people will live with drought and desertification by mid-century.
Dr. Dahiru added that now is the time to mainstream gender issues in all of the government’s developmental agenda, including all programmes and policies. Ensuring and improving the productivity of land and soil is a cheap way of combating climate change while improving the livelihoods and wellbeing of the world’s most vulnerable people, including women and girl child. Empowerment of women as landowners is likewise considered as a strategy for tackling every issue that concerns climate change.
70% of poor African population live in rural areas.
Currently, the importance of acknowledging the critical role of women in combating climate change challenges is beginning to dawn on many major players. It is important that the roles of women are not only recognized but women, themselves, are also encouraged through creation of a conducive atmosphere for every of their engagements. About 70 percent of the poor population in Africa reside in rural areas, mostly in countries prone to drought; survival therefore becomes challenging. The government is required to have this issue as a priority agenda.