The World Bank yesterday announced its approval of a $700 million credit from its International Development Association (IDA) for the Nigeria Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) Project.
The project is expected to increase the implementation of sustainable landscape management practices in northern Nigeria and strengthen the country’s long-term enabling environment for integrated climate-resilient landscape management.
According to a statement from the multilateral institution, the productivity of major crops in Nigeria had been steadily declining over the past two decades, in part due to climate change, forcing an expansion of the area under agriculture and increased imports to meet the food needs of Nigeria’s growing population.
It noted that persistent water shortages, especially in the extreme north, continue to exacerbate land degradation, desertification, and habitat loss.
“Resource shortages, violent conflict, outdated agricultural systems not adapted to changing dryland conditions, lack of access to finance, weak value chain linkages, an uncompetitive environment for agribusiness, and poor market access are other key barriers to increased agricultural productivity in Nigeria. “Better environmental and water resources management and resilience against disaster and climate risks (largely water-related) are needed to sustain economic growth and protect the most vulnerable,” it added.
World Bank’s Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri noted that Nigeria was faced with water scarcity and droughts which occur every five years, on average, with the potential to increase in frequency due to climate change.
He added: “This scenario not only threatens food security, livelihoods, and productivity, but also exacerbates fragility and increases the risk of violence.
“With communities and households that are most dependent on natural resources for their survival and vulnerable to desertification, this intervention will improve multi-sectoral watershed planning and investments to help about 3.4 million direct beneficiaries adapt to evolving dryland conditions.”
The Washington-based institution pointed out that in recent years, the Government of Nigeria had established several initiatives in the agriculture sector to combat desertification including afforestation and reforestation programs, dissemination of proven agricultural technologies and sustainable agricultural practices, and promotion of efficient energy sources.
However, it stated that efforts to stop and reverse desertification had been complicated by the need to feed a rapidly increasing population in a region where natural resources were dwindling and over 90 percent of national food production depends on smallholder farmers who lack the capacity to increase food production without degrading land.
The ACReSAL Project is a 6-year strategic project prioritising actions within four components: Dryland Management, Community Climate Resilience, Institutional Strengthening and Project Management, and Contingent Emergency Response.
It is expected to improve the capacity of the country to adapt to a changing climate, largely through enhancing multi-sectoral convergence (across environment, agriculture and water) and technology modernisation, including improved use of data, analytics, and connectivity.
“The project will specifically target the inclusion of vulnerable and marginalised groups, including women, youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, internally displaced people, and ethnic and religious minorities using an integrated watershed approach across sectors and levels of governance,” Task Team Leader, ACReSAL, World Bank, Joy Iganya Agene said.
“This will help reduce the vulnerability of millions of the extreme poor in northern Nigeria, strengthening their own role in the management of their natural resources while also addressing land degradation, strengthening climate resilience, and lessening livelihood vulnerability in dry, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions in the northern states,” Agene added.
The World Bank’s IDA established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.