Meeting the environmental challenges of a growing nation
Mohammed Kabir Said
Minister of Environment
of the environment is high on the agenda of the Nigerian government. Foreign
aid and assistance will be vital in order to tackle the challenges facing the
The problems are enormous, says Mohammed Kabir Said, Minister of Environment. But people do appreciate that we need assistance. They understand that the size of the country and the size of its population, and what we need to produce will have consequences for the environment.
the environmental challenges Nigeria faces are desertification, soil erosion,
deforestation and pollution in the Niger delta region. One of the most visible
consequences of the numerous oil spills has been the loss of mangrove forests.
Mr. Said is particularly concerned about the encroachment of the Sahara desert
in the north of the country; it is estimated that Nigeria is losing about one
mile to the desert each year.
Under a National Action Plan to combat desertification, the government is establishing a seedling nursery. We want to establish shelter belts a wall of trees about 900 miles long and half a mile wide to protect the land, he says. Such a barrier can stop the desert expanding. This project will need a lot of money, a lot of expertise, and a lot of technology.
the government is intent on ensuring that agricultural development is also sustainable
problem of land-loss to the Sahara is exacerbated by the fuel demands of the
population, two-thirds of whom live in rural areas. The reliance on wood for
fuel for domestic consumption has resulted in significant deforestation
the World Bank estimates about 469 square miles were lost annually to deforestation
between 1990 and 1995.
Coastal erosion is another problem the government is tackling: it is calculated that Nigeria loses about 150 feet to the Atlantic Ocean every year.
The problem of oil pollution in the Niger delta, however, is slowly being brought under control. Several American firms are involved in efforts to reduce oil spills, and cut back burning unwanted gas (flaring). Mr. Said says there are many opportunities for U.S. companies to help protect Nigerias environment, from modern methods for waste and water management, to clean technology for industry.
that environmental concerns are still a relatively new issue for most Nigerians.
Weve put a lot of emphasis on creating awareness so that the population
understands that every single person has a role to play in making the whole
country a better place in which to live.
The Environment Ministry is a new idea it started at the inception of this administration. But people now know that we exist, and they understand our mandate; they know what they have to contribute, and what we will contribute.
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