The security challenge being experienced in the northwest is affecting the implementation of the Great Green Wall (GGW) project in the North-East, a check by the News Agency of Nigeria reveals.
The GGW project involves the establishment of shelterbelt across 1, 500 kilometers in 11 states of the federation.
In Yobe, where 323 kilometers of shelterbelt was to be planted, only 28 kilometers were covered since the project took off in 2013.
The project is also threatened by the decision of the state government to scrap the Ministry for Environment.
Alhaji Garba Tahir, erstwhile Director of Forestry in the state, said already 14 kilometers of the 28 kilometers of trees planted in Giedam and Yunusari local government areas had withered away due to security problems.
“The host communities engaged to provide water to the trees planted on the shelterbelt were forced to relocate to safer places because of the prevailing security risks.
“These are arid regions which must be supported with a lot of watering for the plants to grow but the relocation of the host communities and forest guards had exposed the plants to harsh conditions threatening their survival.
“I am sure the lack of water over this period must have affected the trees, they might have probably dried up because, nobody goes there,” Tahir said.
An environmental group, Partnership on Environment, Water and Sanitation, has also berated the government for scrapping the ministry of environment, saying it would thwart the Great Green Wall programme and general fight against desert encroachment in the state.
Alhaji Sheriff Ibrahim, chairman of the organisation, who was on advocacy visit to the state assembly, urged the lawmakers to prevail on the government to rescind the decision.
“We wish to call on government to have a rethink on the scrapping of the ministry for environment because of its crucial role in addressing dreaded environmental challenges in the state,” he said.
The organisation said the absence of a coordinating ministry to tackle environmental problems would result in poor management of the GGW project in Yobe.
The Speaker, Alhaji Dala Dogo, said the assembly would liaise with the executive to reconsider the scrapping of the state ministry.
“The ministry for environment is very crucial to fighting desertification and other environmental challenges in the state.
“A state ministry for environment will effectively coordinate the Great Green Wall project and accessing of ecological funds from the federal government to fight environmental problems in the state” the speaker said.
Alhaji Jafaru Ayuba, Vice Chairman of Gum Arabic Farmers/Marketers Association in Yobe, advised that Gum Arabic plantations be established under the project to combat desert encroachment and for economic sustainance of communities.
He said the Gum Arabic tree was most suitable to survive the harsh arid weather and would be of high economic potential to communities.
In Adamawa, the project has also been abandoned since 2014 due to security challenges.
The Project Coordinator in the state, Mr Peter Tizhi, said that the initial progress made was reversed following Boko Haram attacks on the participating communities.
Tizhi, however, expressed optimism that recent gains made in flushing out the insurgents would facilitate continuation of the project. (NAN)
To be continued