Jonathan launches Nigerian component of Great Green Wall Project

Jonathan launches Nigerian component of Great Green Wall Project

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 8:53 pm

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday launched the implementation of the Nigerian component of the Great Green Wall (GGW) Initiative at Bachaka in Arewa Local Government Area of Kebbi state, north west Nigeria.

GGW is a regional afforestation programme designed to create a greenbelt of trees across Africa at the southern edge of the Sahara desert to prevent desertification.

President Jonathan doing a symbolic planting of a tree at the GGW

President Jonathan doing a symbolic planting of a tree at the GGW

It was developed by the African Union to address the detrimental social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification on communities bordering the Sahel and Sahara deserts.

In Nigeria, the project comprises a greenbelt of 15 km wide;1,500 km long stretching across 11 states from Kebbi in the North-West to Borno in the North-East.

The 11 states covered by the Nigerian component also known as the frontline states, include Kebbi, Zamfara, Gombe, Yobe, Jigawa, Adamawa, Bauchi, Katsina, Borno, Sokoto and Kano.

Jonathan on the occasion, described the GGW project as a major investment and one of the greatest projects of the Federal Government in terms of environmental protection and wealth creation.

“This occasion marks a turning point in our collective quest to conserve and manage our environment and improve the living condition of our people.

“The journey to the present started several years ago at a regional summit when our former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other leaders proposed the Sahel Sahara initiative in 2005.

“The Nigerian component was subsequently launched in 2006 in Abuja, and in 2007, the AU endorsed the GGW for the Sahara and Sahel initiative.

“The primary objective of the programme is to tackle the detrimental social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification in this part of the world, that is, across Africa.

“As developed by the AU, the programme is conceived as a 15 km wide and 7,775 km long strip of greenery, comprising trees and bushes.

“These include orchards stretching from Senegal at the Atlantic Coast in the West to Djibouti in the hub of Africa at the Indian Ocean in the East.

“The belt is expected to cut across 11 countries, including Nigeria. Each geographical corridor along the southern border of the Sahara is a panacea for halting the movement of the Saharan desert southward.

“It will also protect water resources and restore habitat for biodiversity, energy resources and agricultural production.”

He said that the project would cost government between N85 billion and N100 billion, including the planting of trees and establishment of industries that would process their fruits.

The president described desertification as one of the greatest environmental and developmental problems of the 21st century.

According to him, the problem can trigger a vicious circle of environmental degradation, impoverishment, false migration and conflicts often threatening the political stability of affected countries in the region.

“Those who live near desert areas always live in a high degree of poverty and those who live in riverine areas are so degraded and polluted, always live in poverty.

“Those that live in forest areas where the soil is alright can easily plant and harvest forest trees.

“So, I said based on persuasion this Great Green Wall must be created. We are just starting, so some people now may not know the potential.

“But the technical people know that in the next 25 to 30 years when this greenbelt would be matured, we will be harvesting the fruits, you will see that the people living in this corridor will have sustained sources
of income.”

The president commended the Kebbi government for its efforts so far at realising the project, and urged the other 10 frontline states to take it seriously.

The Minister of Environment, Mrs Laurentia Mallam, recalled that as far back as 1993, a report indicated that 43.3 per cent of the total land area in the country was prone to desertification.

The frontline states, she said, were faced with the greatest hazards with attendant destruction of farmlands and livelihood in affected communities.

She said the GGW programme was a turning point in the country’s quest to sustainably conserve and manage its delicate land environment.

Mallam said that the programme would greatly help to improve the living conditions of the people and thereby enhance the realisation of the Federal Government’s transformation agenda.

According to her, the president has provided N16 billion for the project, adding that a lot of activities had already commenced under its implementation.

Gov. Sa’Idu Dakingari of Kebbi, in his remark, said that Jonathan had written a book on environmental issues of concern in Nigeria.

Dakingari said the launch of the programme was therefore part of the president’s personal environmental activism to address the current global challenges of climate change as it affects Nigeria.

The governor highlighted projects and programmes already initiated by his administration under the GGW initiative, including the setting up of an implementation committee to coordinate the programme in the state.

He pledged the support and commitment of the state government to the realisation of the objectives of the programme to the benefit of the people.

On his part, the Zamfara Commissioner for Environment, Mr Mouktar Lugga, expressed the appreciation of the frontline states and hundreds of affected communities to the president for the launch.

Lugga, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues in the 11 states, said that the launch of the GGW in Nigeria was so far the boldest and most far reaching efforts of government to address the southward march of the Sahara desert.

He also assured the president of the commitment and support of the frontline state governors for the success of the programme.

The highpoint of the event was the ceremonial planting of trees and inspection of community orchard and exhibition stand by the president.

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