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CSO urges FG to Address Sahel Ecological Crisis

By Yetunde Verissimo -The Nigerian Voice, Abuja
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The Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), Civil Society Organization has beckoned on the Government, Citizens and International community to help tackle the ongoing ecological crisis in the Sahel region and should be treated as a matter or urgent national importance.

Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor, Executive Director, Social Action, made this call on Tuesday in Abuja at a roundtable conference to address crisis emerging from the Sahel.

She said that the ecological crisis of the Sahel, including the social outcomes should be treated as a matter of climate justice.

According to her; "The fact that millions of people in the Sahel are suffering impoverishment and conflicts because of climate changes caused by emissions in developing countries means that the ecological crisis of the Sahel including the social outcomes of it should be treated as a matter of climate justice".

"We need to shift the discourse on the Sahel from seeking or granting aid to that of demanding payments for an ecological debt owed to the peoples of the region by the developed countries. Nigerian civil society groups need to work more closely with the government to identify appropriate international mechanisms through which real commitments and deliverables can be obtained on climate change adaption in the Sahel region generally and the Lake Chad Basin in particular ".

She further said that that the Nigerian state has a responsibility to develop appropriate legislative and policy framework that is just and guarantees the lives, rights and livelihood of all, pastoralists and farming communities alike, adding that CSOs must set emotions aside and engage in discussions about reasonable options and just alternatives.

In his presentation, Dr.Bdliya Hassan noted that a lot of work is needed to be done at the levels of government, organizations and communities to ensure urgent attention is placed on the survival of the Lake Chad Basin would help control the emerging crisis in the Sahel region.

He added that a coordinating platform to bring the ministry of agric, environment, water resources together to push for the implementation of the inter-basin transfer and continuous collaboration will help to solve the situation.

Also the round table, the Former Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission Dr.Chidi Odinkalu, explained that the pastoralism crisis was of ethnicity or religious based but rather a case survival due to climate change. He gave a statics of about 28 to 30 million people as well as about 60 to 65 million herds of animals have been displaced in the Sahel.

"If we don't solve this situation now and begin to manage and adapt properly, Boko Haram is choir practice. Our population is growing at about 3.5 percent, our GDP is shrinking at the rate of 2.5 per cent, by 2050, the estimate is that our population will be more than doubled at that point the waters will not be able to sustain our agriculture and the crisis will become intra-ethnic clashes" He said.

The near total loss of Lake Chad has had profoundly negative impacts on fishing and Agricultural livelihoods as the Lake used to serve as a lifeline for millions of people and by 2009, many young men in the lake Chad Basin were unemployed.