Nigeria has successfully rehabilitated over 1,558.62 hectare (ha) of degraded land and lifted more than 8,000 people out of poverty through livelihood enhancement activities in drought-prone areas in the last four years.
The National Coordinator of Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), Alhaji Salisu Dahiru, disclosed this at the 14thConference of Parties (COP14) of UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) currently underway in New Delhi, India.
Dahiru said that the US$400 million World Bank Project being managed by NEWMAP successfully restored gullies, along with catchment planning, soil and water conservation in areas worst affected by desertification.
Dahiru said that the formation of gullies and ravines, particularly in South Eastern parts of the country, had resulted in extreme land degradation.
“These gullies are the largest ecological challenge that the region is experiencing.
“Some of these gullies can be as deep as 100 metres and as wide as 20 to 30 metres and could stretch over several kilometres.
“We consider these as end results of prolonged land degradation, resulted mainly from the loss of vegetation cover and leading in loss of livelihood because majority of population is in and around the area where these gullies exist.
“So, restoring this land has been of prime-most importance to us and the community, and the World Bank came to the rescue,” Dahiru said.
According to him, NEWMAP programme has three operational components, namely: Gully restoration, catchment planning and management and livelihoods; Capacity building in key national and state institutions related to erosion and watershed management; and climate change and alternative energy for rural areas.
The NEWMAP’s eight-year intervention project, launched in 2015, is the biggest project in World Bank Group’s portfolio in Nigeria.
The World Bank had on June 18, 2019 approved additional funding for financing seven projects to support Nigeria in other sectors, including reducing vulnerability to soil erosion.
This Additional Financing for NEWMAP is an International Development Association (part of World Bank) credit of $400 million.
Issues on the COP14 agenda include drought, land tenure, ecosystem restoration, climate change, health, sand and dust storms, cities of the future, financial investment, and the roles of youth, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
The two-week conference ends on Sept. 13.