In a solemn declaration made during the commemoration of World Desertification and Drought Day in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary in Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment, Mr. Ibrahim Yusuf, highlighted the pressing issue of land degradation. He expressed concerns that land degradation is expected to worsen, especially in Nigeria, as the population continues to grow rapidly.
Addressing the audience, Mr. Yusuf emphasized the far-reaching impacts of land degradation, affecting everyone through food insecurity, increased food prices, climate change, environmental hazards, and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The theme of this year’s celebration, “Her Land Her Right: Advancing Gender Equality and Land Restoration Goals,” resonated strongly with the Permanent Secretary. He emphasized that land restoration plays a crucial role in reversing degradation and tackling the problems it causes. Additionally, he stressed the importance of gender-responsive actions in achieving effective, efficient, and sustainable land restoration projects. Equitable and secure land rights for women and vulnerable groups were identified as critical factors for successful land restoration initiatives.
Recognizing the unequal access and limited control women have over land, Mr. Yusuf asserted that investing in women’s equal access to land and associated assets is an investment in their future and the future of humanity. He called for women and girls to take the lead in global land restoration and drought resilience efforts, given their vital stake in land health. Mr. Yusuf urged the global community, including Nigeria, to review land laws, governance, and customary rights to address gender inequality in securing land rights. By promoting inclusiveness, active participation, and empowering women and vulnerable groups, access to land can be enhanced, sustainable land management can be achieved, and land restoration programs can be successful.
Dr. Salisu Dahiru, the Director General of the National Council on Climate Change, echoed the concerns regarding land degradation and its relationship to climate change. Highlighting the fact that half the world’s population already copes with the consequences of land degradation, he emphasized that women and girls bear the highest burden. Dr. Dahiru stressed the need to mainstream gender issues into all developmental agendas and policies, recognizing the crucial role of women in addressing climate change challenges. Empowering women as landowners is seen as a game-changer in combating climate change and addressing various related issues.
Dr. Dahiru emphasized the significance of recognizing the pivotal role of women and creating a supportive environment for their engagement. With 70% of Africa’s poor population residing in rural areas, many of which are prone to drought, the survival challenges faced by women and vulnerable groups demand immediate attention at both the federal and sub-national government levels.
The urgency to address land degradation and promote gender equality in land restoration efforts is clear. Nigeria, along with the global community, must take proactive measures to ensure sustainable land management, empower women, and mitigate the consequences of climate change on the most vulnerable populations.
- Nigeria’s Federal Government warns that land degradation will worsen due to population growth.
- Land degradation has severe consequences, including food insecurity, higher food prices, climate change, environmental hazards, and loss of biodiversity.
- Emphasis placed on gender equality in land restoration efforts to ensure equitable and secure land rights for women and vulnerable groups.