International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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A Comprehensive Approach to Drought and Desertification in Nigeria

Idris Nasiru Medugu

Urban and Regional Planning, Faculty of Built Environment, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia


Desertification of the arid lands of the world has been proceeding sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly for more than a thousand years. It has caused untold misery among those most directly affected, yet environmental destruction continues. Until recently, few if any lessons seemed to have been learned from the past, in part because the problem was an insidious one that went unrecognized in its early stages or was seen as a local one affecting only a small population, and in part because new land was always available to start over again. As long as remedial action could be deferred by moving on to new frontiers, land conservation had little appeal. It was not until the 20th century when easy land expansion came to an end that governments and people finally realized that continued careless degradation of natural resources threatened their future. This paper discusses the menace of desertification, the extent and the impact and recommends measures to combat desertification and mitigate the effect of drought in Nigeria. The extent and severity of desertification in Nigeria has not been fully established neither the rate of its progression properly recognized. However, it is estimated that the country is currently losing about 351,000 hectares of its landmass to desert conditions annually, and such conditions are estimated to be advancing southwards at the rate of about 0.6 km per year. Desertification, which is affecting the 10 northern States, is considered as the most pressing environmental problem and the country is currently losing huge amount of money arising from environmental degradation.

Keywords: Desertification, Drought, Land Degradation, Climatic Variation, Desertification Planning Policy