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Experts meet in search of solution to degraded land, food security in Yobe

Experts on environment, agriculture and water resources have met to find ways of restoring soil fertility on degraded land to meet the food and climate…

Experts on environment, agriculture and water resources have met to find ways of restoring soil fertility on degraded land to meet the food and climate security needs of Yobe State.

These experts, brought together at a workshop organized by the Yobe State Agro Climate Resilience in Semi Arid Landscape (ACReSAL) Project – a World Bank-supported Project, had participants from Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Agriculture, Environment, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, among others.

Governor Mai Mala Buni, who spoke at the event, said the aim of the workshop was to facilitate easy access to implement the progress of the upcoming ACReSAL project activities and also deepen the policy engagement with relevant stakeholders.

“This workshop will no doubt address envisaged challenges for the smooth implementation of the project, as it is set to assess the overall project implementation progress; disbursement readiness, fiduciary, safeguards and technical aspects, among other associated areas,” he said.

Buni, represented by the commissioner of Agriculture, Dr Mairo Amshi, said the state did not participate in the just concluded Nigeria Erosion & Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) which gave birth to the current ACReSAL project, hence the need to undertake numerous activities that will have a direct impact on its environment and residents.

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“Already, Yobe has presented 14 priority sites for intervention by the World Bank comprising 10 erosion sites and four  water conservation structures. The state received clearance for six flood and erosion sites at Buni-Yadi, Damaturu, Damagum, Gashua, Karasuwa and Nguru towns,” he said.

He said the state is ever willing to meet its obligations in terms of payment of compensations and related counterpart funding for the realization of the interventions.

“It is worth mentioning the outstanding performance of the Project Management Unit of Yobe-ACReSAL which has led it to have a standing ovation, being the first state to submit its cleared proposals to the bank for implementation.”

He commended the World Bank for providing the state with ACReSAL Project, which is aimed at consolidating the achievements in line with global resolve for addressing land degradation, desert encroachment and climate change issues.

Also speaking, the commissioner of Environment, Sidi Yakubu Karasuwa, said Governor Buni’s administration is fully committed to improving and protecting the environment from any form of challenge.

“He is given priority attention to the issues of biodiversity conservation, restoration of degraded lands, addressing climate change issues, fight against the menace of desertification and desert encroachment, pollution control, environmental sanitation, prevention of flooding, erosion prevention and control, among others.

He said in the area of policy formulation and legislation, ACReSAL will support the enactment and reviews of the State Policies on Agriculture, Environment and Water to give policy direction for the state.

“State Forestry Bill will also be drafted to help curtail indiscriminate cutting of trees in the state,” he said.

Karasuwa said they would conduct environmental education and awareness programmes; promotion of the use of clean energy to mitigate air pollution through the distribution of natural gas cooking facilities and clean cookstoves free of charge to members of the public; control and prevention of open defecation.

On his part, the state project coordinator, Alhaji Shehu Mohammed, said the workshop would make the key stakeholders understand the concept and their role in the project implementation.

Mohammed noted that Yobe is among the frontline states ravaged by environmental challenges: drought, desertification, flooding and gully erosion which destroyed farmlands and many human and animals lives.

He said last year, the state witnessed very serious flood disaster that cut off roads, washed away bridges and destroyed farmlands. Farm produce were destroyed, and human and animal lives were lost.

“On the other hand, gully erosion also hindered farming and irrigation activities across Buni-Yadi, Gujba, Damaturu, Damagum, Fika, Gulani, and Potiskum among others. Other environmental problems include inadequate drainage networks, pest invasion (locust), quelea birds, bush burning and other climate change-related disasters.

In the aspect of special ecosystem which comprises of wetlands, oases and forest reserves, the Hadeijai-Nguru wetland, Zoto wetland, Ngeji wetland, the Dagona water sanctuary etc, which serve as means of livelihood to the communities – a place where migratory birds from Italy, Spain, England and other parts of Africa use to visit, the population of these migratory birds is drastically reducing day by day. Yobe State has the highest number of oases in the country, and more than 200 are dying and drying very fast. These oases serve as natural stabilizers and livelihood support for the people living in the desert.

“The other aspect of disasters include flooding and the menace of gully erosion across the state which threatens most of the rivarine communities in the Yobe-Komadugu River Basin, notably Nguru, Karasuwa Bade, Jakusko, Bursari, Geidam and Yunusari which experience flood disasters almost on yearly basis as a result of siltation by typha grass, weeds and debris,” he said.

He said the workshop would make key stakeholders understand the concept and their role in the project implementation.

“That is why seasoned administrators, experts, professionals, specialists from various fields of Oasis Development and Restoration, Climate Smart Agriculture, Irrigation Farming, Water Harvest, Monitoring and Evaluation, Geographic Information system, fiduciary, procurement, Drought and Desertification Environmental and Social safeguards, Leadership and team building among others, were invited to share their expertise and interact with our stakeholders on the way forward in making ACReSAL a success,” he said.

The acting National Project Coordinator of ACReSAL, Engr Ayuba Anda Yalaks, also commended the feat attained by the Project in Yobe and assured their full support.