5 key take-away from PIND’s World Environment Day celebration

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Cross section of participants in a group photograph

5th of June every year has been set aside by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to mark World Environment Day. The World Environment Day celebration has grown into a global platform over the years. The celebration serves as a day for the public to take concrete actions to save the planet and advocate for people around the world to do something positive for the environment.

Activities to mark the day include street rallies and parades, as well as concerts, tree planting, and clean-up campaigns. In many countries, this annual event is used to enhance political attention and action towards improving the environment. This observance also provides an opportunity to sign or ratify international environmental conventions.

To mark the day, the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) on Friday June 3rd brought together dignitaries that consisted of stakeholders in the environmental sector, the academia, students and youth groups. They all converged at the ATED Building of the Economic Development Center (EDC) of PIND in Warri, Delta state.

The highlight of the day was the presentation of the film titled ‘Nowhere to Run’. The film is produced by the Yaradua Foundation. The documentary tells a compelling and frightening story of the environmental threats to our nation from the perspective of the affected communities across the country.

5 key takeaways from the film:

  1. Climate change poses a security threat to communities in Nigeria: The film shows how Climate change is redrawing our coastlines, altering where we can grow food, changing where we can find water, exposing us to fiercer storms and more severe droughts. Climate change is also forcing large numbers of people to move from their homelands. In Nigeria, average temperature ranges from 25°C in the southern coast to 40°C in the north, effect of Climate change will cause a rise in temperature of from 1.4°C to 5.8°C by 2100 according to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This will have serious negative effect on the socio-economic wellbeing of the country. Climate change will lead to increase in amount of rains and number of rainy days which will result in flooding in the coastal areas; high temperature in the north will cause increase health issues such as meningitis, cataracts, malaria and yellow fever, etc. Desertification will increase and more droughts which encourage locusts and white flies, which in turn will affect food and water supply; change in land use in the coast may have drastic effect on agricultural output and hence livelihood; wildlife will also be affected with possible effect on the entire food chain.
  2. Oil and gas exploration has caused a series of environmental and health problems: The film raised an alarm on the threat of global warming. If not controlled, it could result in series of heat wave and health hazards because of the radioactive materials used for oil and gas exploration, exploitation, mining and production. Some of the health hazards that might result from the effects of gas flaring are: increased environmental temperature and heat-wave/mental heat which will lead to global warming. This condition dehydrates surroundings, habitats, eco-system, food chain and vegetation which result in the dearth and poor yield of environmental resources. Also, gas flaring exposes the environment to various gases which when inhaled could block the passage of oxygenated blood to the heart of human beings and animals. Gas flaring also results in damage to the human skin and prevent plants chlorophyll from functioning. This also leads to cancer of the skin and corrode galvanized roofing sheets. Gaseous acids also pollutes streams, natural water ways like swamps, creeks, ponds, including arable farm lands rivers soil nutrients and thereby killing fishes, aquatic animals and plants and stave human beings of source of water.
  3. Oil pollution is having a devastating effect on plant and animal life: the film highlighted the resultant effect of incessant release of oil/liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the aquatic environment such as oceans and coastal waters and on land. This is creating a devastating damage to land and aquatic life. Spilled oil can harm living things because of its chemical constituents are poisonous. It reduces birds’ and mammals’ ability to maintain their body temperatures. Seabirds are also harmed during oil spills. Sea otters can easily be harmed by oil, since their ability to stay warm depends on their fur remaining clean. If oil remains on a beach for a while, other creatures, such as snails, clams, and terrestrial animals may suffer.
  4. Desertification is posing a serious threat of insecurity and reduction in food production: The film goes further to highlight the devastating effect of deforestation in Nigeria especially in the north. Nigeria loses about 350,000 hectares of land every year to desert encroachment. Desertification has led to demographic displacements in villages across 11 states in the North. It is estimated that Nigeria loses about $5.1billion every year owing to rapid encroachment of drought and desert in most parts of the north. This ugly trend is further exacerbated by increase in the rate of fuel wood extraction especially by communities near to forest reserves due to high costs of alternative sources of domestic energy such as kerosene, gas and electricity. Desertification is already posing a threat to food production in Nigeria. It is equally believed that the hostile impact of climate change in Northern Nigeria poses serious threat to national security and poverty alleviation strategies in the country as those mostly affected are the most vulnerable in the security that dwell in the villages ravaged by this scourge.
  5.  Agriculture and Food security is essential to meet the needs of Nigeria’s growing population: While the damage caused by climate change is extensive no doubt, there is a need to focus on agriculture and food security. The film predicated that that there would be a catastrophic widespread food famine before the year 2020 if much attention is not given to food security. Achieving food security in Nigeria is pivotal to national development as it serves as a boost to other sectors of the economy. It is time for Nigeria to focus on making food available for its citizens.

 

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