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Climate change in Nigeria: Impacts and responses

Climate change in Nigeria

Climate change in Nigeria: Impacts and responses

Climate change in Nigeria has become very apparent and obvious. The impact is felt across the country, it is evident in the increase in temperature; variable rainfall; rise in sea level and flooding; drought and desertification; land degradation; more frequent extreme weather events; affected freshwater resources, and loss of biodiversity. The durations and intensities of rainfall have increased, producing large runoffs and flooding in many places in Nigeria.


According to Worldometer, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the sixth most populous country in the world. With more than 223 million inhabitants, the country is also Africa’s largest economy, accounting for one-fifth of the continent’s total population. World Bank also recorded that Nigeria is predicted to be the third most populous country in the world with an estimate of more than 400 million people by 2050. There are majorly two tropical climates in the country which are Rainy and Dry seasons. These seasons occur differently depending on geographical region.


Climate change in Nigeria
Nigeria’s Population Data


However, the Southern parts of Nigeria experience longer rainy seasons than the Northern parts while the North has a dry season with monthly highs of 38 degrees Celsius, whilst the mean temperature in southern Nigeria ranges from 32-33 degrees Celsius. The harmattan wind, a dry and scorching breeze, flows farther north than south. This is to say that climate change in Nigeria is already happening.


Although there are many natural sources of greenhouse gases, human activities such as transportation, energy production, industry, garbage, agriculture, and other land use are among the major contributors. A high concentration of these gases in the atmosphere promotes global warming, which raises the average temperature of the Earth, resulting in climate change.


Climate Change in Nigeria: The Impacts


In Nigeria, increasing climate unpredictability is bringing more severe and unexpected rains. Flash floods, landslides, and gully erosion have exacerbated the degradation of land in one of the ten most susceptible countries to climate change impacts. In 2009, roughly 6,000 gullies had destroyed roads, highways, pipelines, and homes throughout rural and urban Nigeria. Because of these terrible weather events, many Nigerians were terrified and despondent.

The National Emergency Management Agency stated in its 2022 reports on the consequences of climate change in Nigeria that 612 Nigerians were killed by disastrous floods, while 1.4 million Nigerians were forced into refugee camps.


Climate change in Nigeria
Impact of climate change in Nigeria


According to Umar Farouq, minister of humanitarian affairs, Nigeria recorded the highest flood after 2012 in 2022. Even though the states impacted were fewer which included Anambra, Delta, Cross River, Rivers State, Bayelsa, and Benue. This resulted in the loss of over 500 lives, the partial or destruction of 90,000 houses, the destruction of more than 140,000 hectares of farmland, and the destruction of roads and other important infrastructure. Floods that are unexpected, unforeseeable, and unmanageable erode the soil, and the loss of life and belongings is a tragedy for many Nigerians. Floods and erosion wreak havoc on crops, farms, lands, and homes.


Climate change also has an impact on crop yield in Nigeria. Given the importance of agriculture in the Nigerian economy, excess rainfall and drought caused by climate change impact the normal distribution of crops and limits their production in significant amounts to fulfill the population’s need.


As a result of the country’s hard climate conditions, this results in food scarcity, which is defined by poor quality and quantity of food crops. As a result, food crops are insufficiently supplied to other regional zones where such crops cannot be grown. Tomatoes, for example, are grown in huge amounts in the north, and if production drops owing to unfavorable weather circumstances, other parts of Nigeria may see lower supplies, as observed this year.


Climate change in Nigeria can also have an impact on livestock animals like cows, which depend on the grass for sustenance, and their products such as beef or milk are impacted when these animals do not feed well. Climate change has the potential to devastate farmlands where these animals feed. Flooding also encourages the proliferation of bugs that harm agricultural animals, thus depreciating their general commercial worth.


Agriculture is a key contributor to the Nigerian economy as well as a source of livelihood for certain Nigerians. Especially those in the rural communities who are full-time farmers. Climate change ruins farmlands and reduces agricultural and animal farming income creation at the national as well as individual levels. Climate change is increasing the prevalence of diseases in Nigeria, particularly malaria. Mosquitoes thrive in stagnant water and transmit malaria. Fatal malaria complications are widespread in people both young and old age.


How Nigeria is responding to climate change


Climate change in Nigeria cannot be ignored any longer, and steps to mitigate its effects must be handled seriously. In the country’s policy scenario, the Energy Transition Plan (ETP) to reach net zero emissions by 2060 needs major international cooperation. The administration hoped to negotiate a USD 10 billion assistance agreement ahead of COP27 to launch implementation, however, funding was still not obtained as of May 2023.


Nigeria has announced new emission-cutting strategies and plans: Nigeria implemented new Methane Guidelines in January 2023, which include necessary measures for oil and gas businesses to minimize methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, which include leak detection. These responses are yet to be fruitful.


In addition, the government is obligated to develop a carbon tax and carbon market under the 2021 Climate Change Act. The Director General of the National Council on Climate Change revealed plans to propose a carbon price strategy in February 2023. While these are encouraging responses, the government’s prolonged dependence on oil and gas risks trapping Nigeria into emissions-intensive infrastructure, putting us back five steps.


Nigeria builds resilience to climate change


The Nigeria Erosion and Water Shed Management Project (NEWMAP), which was initiated in 2012 in response to floods and erosion in Nigeria, used new integrated approaches based on community participation. The project, which will be finished in 2022, will integrate poverty reduction with sustainable ecosystems and improved catastrophe risk prevention. This comprehensive strategy has enhanced the lives and safety of over 12 million Nigerians across 23 states. Many, however, have contended that the response is not entirely sustainable.


The government of Nigeria authorized an updated National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) and National Climate Change Programs for the period 2021-2030 in June 2021 (Department of Climate Change, 2021). Another Nigerian response to climate change.


In addition, in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria implemented the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) to revitalize the economy (Economic Sustainability Committee, 2020). Climate-related programs included in the ESP include the building of five million solar houses and a national gas development initiative to lessen reliance on oil. Uninterrupted natural gas use in electricity generation in the Middle East and Africa must be efficiently phased out by 2045.


According to the Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigeria announced its National lowering Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) Strategy in July 2021, to lower forest sector emissions by 20% by 2050. Cross River State, which contains half of Nigeria’s forests, has already begun pilot REDD+ efforts. Cross River State has created its own REDD+ plan and safeguards method, as well as presented its forest reference emission level to the UNFCCC.


Nigeria participates in the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative. The African Union established the effort in 2007 to restore damaged land, sequester carbon, and create green jobs in the Sahel region. The creation of a 1,359 km contiguous shelterbelt that will function as windbreaks from Kebbi State in the northwest to Borno State in the northeast is an important objective of Nigeria’s GGW program. From 2007 to 2020, the initiative produced 709 kilometers of windbreaks, 2,801 hectares of reforested land, and 1,396 employments. Nigeria has long responded to climate change, but human activities continue to contribute to its impacts.

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