International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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Desertification in the Drylands of Nigeria and its Consequences on the Social Stability of the Region

Amin Al-Amin

Department of Geography, Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, Nigeria


Nigeria and indeed a good portion of West Africa is a host to thousand square kilometers of dryland environment with its characteristic low rainfall, high temperatures, scanty vegetation, high human and livestock densities. The pressure being exerted on this fragile ecosystem became only public during the Sahelian drought of the 1970’s. Although the colossal loss of human and livestock during that Sahelian drought had attracted the world attention; the present situation of the Nigeria’s drylands deserves a more serious attention and concern. Whereas the Sahelian drought of the 70’s was a natural phenomenon, the present environmental degradation (desertification) taking place in the drylands of Nigeria is consequent upon a long negligence on conservation of the scarce and fragile natural resources due to mismanagement, corruption and lack of focus. These, coupled with poverty and conflict on resource use have resulted into a theatre of incessant restiveness that is not only threatening Nigeria's stability, but also that of its neighboring countries.

This paper seeks to review the current situation with special focus on the status of the region’s grazing reserves in order to bring to the fore why the persistent clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and the subsistence farmers in the region has defied solutions. The paper will attempt to recommend a balanced approach that will not only check this human insecurity, but will also ensure a sustainable resource allocation and utilization.

Keywords: Desertification, Drylands, Grazing Reserves, Livestock, Natural Resources