To say that climate change isn’t having its toll on the nation’s overall progress will amount to being economical with the truth.
Nigeria’s climate has been changing, and this is evident in: increases in temperature; variable rainfall; rise in sea level and flooding; drought and desertification; land degradation; more frequent extreme weather events; affected fresh water resources and loss of biodiversity.
The durations and intensities of rainfall have increased, producing large runoffs and flooding in many places in Nigeria.
Rainfall variation is projected to continue to increase. Precipitation in southern areas is expected to rise and rising sea levels are expected to exacerbate flooding and submersion of coastal lands.
Droughts have also become a constant in Nigeria, and are expected to continue in Northern Nigeria, arising from a decline in precipitation and rise in temperature. Lake Chad and other lakes in the country are drying up and at risk of disappearing.
Temperature has risen significantly since the 1980s. Climate projections for the coming decades reveal a significant increase in temperature over all the ecological zones. This rapid review synthesises evidence on the impact of climate change in Nigeria (geographic, sectoral, demographic and security impacts) and responses to address it (i.e. climate change mitigation and adaptation, adaptive capacity and capacity development).
Despite contributing only a minute amount of global greenhouse gas emissions, the African continent suffers the deleterious effects of climate change to a disproportionate degree.
Analysts say the heavy carbon emitters, such as China and the United States, have a moral obligation to help the nations of Africa, particularly the rural areas of these countries, mitigate the impact of climate change, not just to help Africa, but to help the rest of the world.
Globally, nations are striving to fashion out ways to ways to mitigate the negative effects of this ugly situation by implementing policies, engaging in collaborations and being pragmatic in their approach to ensure that the situation is brought under control to the barest minimum.
It must be noted that climate change reflects the variations in the average daily weather conditions such as temperature, humidity, rainfall and sunshine of a location over an extended period. Climate change in Nigeria threatens economic growth in sectors dependent on climatic conditions.
Food shortage, low crop yield, loss of shelter and road networks, decreased electric power supply, public health crisis, loss of income and grossly reduced livestock production are some of the aftereffects of climate change in Nigeria
Economic sectors such as agriculture, fishery and forestry are more predisposed to the adverse effects of climate change. The Nigerian climate has been irregular over the years, alternating between periods of extreme dry or rainy seasons.
Climate change in Nigeria has sometimes led to seasons of drought and excess flood, which affected agricultural activities and caused loss of shelter. In 2019, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), revealed floods had displaced approximately 1.9 million Nigerians.
The nation has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: wet and dry seasons.
These seasons have varying lengths of rainy and dry seasons depending on the geographical location. For example, the southern part of Nigeria has a longer period of rainy season (March to November) than the Northern part (May to September).
Dry season is prevalent in the north coupled with high temperatures that may reach an average monthly value of 38 degrees celsius, while the mean temperature in southern Nigeria hovers around 32-33°C. In the north, the harmattan wind, which is a dry and hot wind, blows longer than it does in southern Nigeria.
Aside natural hazards such as volcanic eruptions which contribute to climate change, scientists have now discovered that certain human activities are also responsible.
Environmental scientists associate climate change effects with the depletion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere. The ozone layer prevents the heat from the sun from reaching the earth at high intensity.
According to Dr. Hezekiah Olatunbosun, an environmental scientist, the issue of climate change is a matter of urgency, which the world needs to come together to tackle with all seriousness before it pulls the world apart. “I have always been of the opinion that if we go to sleep while the issue of climate change takes over, the world will have itself to blame.
“There is urgent need for us to come together to tackle this situation before it tears the world apart. We shouldn’t just pay lip service to the matter but we must engage at government level and at all levels, as a matter of fact, to tackle climate change and bring it under check.”
The ozone layer is depleted when certain gases are released into the atmosphere from human and natural factors. These gases are: Carbon monoxide, Sulphur dioxide, chlorofluorocarbon, and similar.
When these greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, where the heat from the sun is trapped on the earth’s surface. This gradually leads to excess heat depending on depletion level and quantity of the gases emitted over time.
There are quite a number of human activities which cause climate change as well. One of such is emission of greenhouse gases from vehicles: Some vehicles emit greenhouse gases such as sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide from their exhaust.
Another is burning of hydrocarbon products: This releases carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere.
Similarly, deforestation is prevalent in Nigeria. This refers to cutting down trees, usually for agriculture. Trees form a protective barrier against the heat from the sun and cutting them down affects this purpose. Industrial emissions is another challenge. Industrial activities and equipment produce greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere instead.
Now, these activities have had far-reaching consequences on the nation’s overall development. One very negative effect is low crop yield. Low crop production depends on location and climatic conditions. Crops that need rainfall to grow are abundant in the south, while those that don’t need rainfall grow more in the north.
Excess rain and drought associated with climate change affects this natural distribution of crops in Nigeria and reduces their production in large quantities to meet the population’s demand. For instance, climate change may cause stunted growth of crops grown in Northern Nigeria because these crops don’t thrive in soils flooded with water from excess rain. Likewise, some crops cultivated in southern Nigeria may wither during prolonged drought periods because these crops need rainfall to grow.
Food shortage is another consequence of climate change in Nigeria. Food scarcity is a consequence of low crop yield, which is characterised by inferior quality and quantity of food crops because of harsh climate conditions. Therefore, food crops are poorly distributed to other geopolitical zones where such crops don’t grow. For instance, tomatoes are produced in large quantities in the north and if this declines due to unfavourable climatic conditions, other locations in Nigeria will experience reduced supply.
There is reduced livestock production. Livestock animals like goats and cows feed on grass to grow, and their products such as beef or milk are affected when these animals don’t feed well. Irregular climatic conditions destroy farmlands these animals graze on. Also, flooding promotes the growth of pests that attack these farm animals and further depreciate their overall commercial value.
Unfortunately, huge loss of income is prevalent as well. Agriculture is one of the major contributors to the Nigerian economy and source of income for some Nigerians. These individuals are either rural dwellers who are full-time farmers or urban dwellers who are part-time farmers. Climate change destroys farmlands and hinders income generation from agriculture and livestock farming at national and personal levels.
Public health crisis has become rife with this situation. Climate change increases the burden of diseases in Nigeria, especially malaria.
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant waters and they spread to cause malaria. Life-threatening malaria complications are common among the extremes of age individuals-young and old people. This can put a strain on areas such as public health and nursing.
Also, wildfires and dust storms occur during drought, and these environmental hazards cause respiratory illnesses in some individuals. Climate change increases the number of diseases and causes preventable deaths among Nigerians if left unchecked.
Decreased hydroelectric power supply
Nigeria generates a significant amount of power from its hydroelectric dam- Kainji Dam. Climate change causes unpredictable rainfall and drought patterns that reduce the water level in Kainji Dam and other smaller ones.
Consequently, the amount of hydroelectric power generated declines and affects power distribution nationwide. This affects industrial activities which depend on constant power supply to run their plants.
There is loss of shelter and road networks. Rural communities suffer most from the negative impact of flooding. Some houses in rural communities collapse during heavy floods because they don’t have a solid structural strength. Also, rural dwellers can’t commute during flooding because water obliterates the road networks.
There have been various calls from different quarters for the government to improve, with respect to policies in tackling climate change, especially, as it concerns human causes of climate change in a multifaceted way.
These analysts and observers posit that the policy should contains a set of rules, regulations and standards for agencies and individuals to abide by to achieve the policy goals.
As a result, the Nigerian government introduced the following policies aimed at mitigating the climate change effects; National environmental policy: This policy aims to create an environment that has low levels of air pollutants, reduced deforestation and other human activities that worsen the effects of climate change.
National drought and desertification policy: The major goal is to create solutions by collecting and analysing environmental data from drought and desertification prone areas.
National forest policy: The Nigerian government enacted this policy to encourage the growth of trees so that trees will provide the protective barrier against the sun’s heat.
National erosion and flood control policy: This policy addresses issues related to erosion and flooding because they wash away the nutrients in the soil and reduce its quality for growing crops.
There have been suggestions that, in trying to mitigate climate change as a matter of seriousness, Nigeria has to adapt to the effects of climate change and mitigate the negative impact of climate change at the national and individual levels.
Ogbonnaya Ikenna is a public observer and environmental analyst, he says, “To adapt to climate change, the Federal Government needs to invest in agricultural science research so that scientists can produce crops that are resistant to the harsh climatic conditions and construct drought-resistant hydroelectric dams.
“Mitigation involves enforcing the Nigerian climate change policy and enacting laws that prohibit the release of toxic gases from industrial areas, especially by petroleum companies in the Niger Delta region.
“The Federal government should collaborate with stakeholders in the different ministries to ensure that policies are revised and implemented based on relevant data and current environmental needs and challenges”
“I will equally suggest a substantially increased investment in agricultural research. Africa – which Nigeria is a part of – currently has 17 percent of the world’s population and is heavily dependent on agriculture, but only receives four percent of investment in agricultural research from all sources, including donors or internal government budgets. An increased investment in research will provide a better understanding of Africa’s climate and the impact of climate change.”
Climate change threatens the lives and livelihoods of over 100 million in extreme poverty.
Global warming is expected to melt Africa’s remaining glaciers in the next few decades, and the reduction in water essential to agricultural production will create food insecurity, poverty, and population displacement.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the gross domestic product (GDP) could be reduced by up to three percent by 2050.
Even without the deleterious impact of climate change, global poverty is one of the world’s worst problems. It is estimated that one in three Africans, or over 400 million people, live below the global poverty line, which is defined as less than $1.90 per day. The world’s poorest people are often hungry, have less access to education, have no light at night, and suffer from poor health.