How Deforestation is Causing Devastating Impacts in Northern Nigeria

Northern Nigeria is in the grip of a severe desertification crisis, with vast swaths of once arable land being consumed by the encroaching desert.

This dreadful environmental issue poses an existential threat to the livelihoods of millions and risks exacerbating food insecurity, conflict, and displacement in the region.

With increased pressure of desertification, exacerbated by a period of prolonged, climate change and human activities, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain sustainability in the management of the fragile lands and the region’s ecosystem.

One of the most immediate impacts of deforestation is the acceleration of desertification, a process whereby fertile land gradually transforms into an arid desert.

With each tree felled and each acre of forest cleared, the protective barrier against desert encroachment is weakened, leaving the land vulnerable to degradation and erosion. As a result, once-productive agricultural land is transformed into a barren wasteland, rendering it unsuitable for farming and exacerbating food insecurity in the region.

Desertification Crisis Grips Northern Nigeria

The desert’s rapid advancement, fueled by climate change, unsustainable agricultural practices, and overgrazing, has already transformed large areas into barren, unproductive landscapes. Drought conditions have become more frequent and severe, devastating crops and livestock crucial for the predominantly agrarian communities.

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NNPC Mega Filling Station

Climate Change: Strange Storm Hits Bauchi’s Darazo LG (PHOTOS)

According to estimates, Nigeria has an annual deforestation rate of about 3.5 per cent, meaning an average yearly loss of between 350,000 and 400,000 hectares of forest cover. Official figures say Nigeria, Africa’s largest nation loses over 10.5 billion naira ($34.3 million) every year to environmental challenges such as deforestation, drought, and desertification, but wider unofficial ones put the annual cost in the billions of dollars.

Strange windstorm in Darazo, Bauchi State

This has particularly impacted states like Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Katsina, and Sokoto, where vast expanses of dunes have replaced once-thriving farms and pastures.

The Role of Deforestation in Exacerbating the Crisis

Deforestation rates in northern Nigeria are soaring, further exacerbating the spread of desertification and amplifying the impacts of climate change. Large-scale clearing of forests for agriculture, logging, and unsustainable land use practices are releasing vast amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere, intensifying the greenhouse effect and contributing to rising global temperatures.

The consequences of this environmental catastrophe are far-reaching; As lands degrade, conflicts between farmers and nomadic herders over dwindling resources have escalated, leading to displacement and loss of life. Food scarcity and malnutrition rates have soared, particularly affecting vulnerable groups like children and the elderly.

“Our crops have failed for several years now, and our livestock have perished due to lack of grazing land and water,” lamented Alhaji Sale, a farmer in Sokoto State. “We are struggling to survive, and many have been forced to abandon their ancestral homes in search of greener pastures.”

The link between deforestation, desertification, and climate change is clear and undeniable. Rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns further exacerbate the vulnerability of ecosystems and communities already grappling with the impacts of environmental degradation.

Windstorm Wrecks Havoc, Destroys Hospital, School in Warji LGA

Droughts become more frequent and severe, water sources become increasingly scarce, and agricultural yields decline, deepening the cycle of poverty and exacerbating social tensions.

“We are witnessing a silent crisis unfolding before our eyes,” said 67-year-old community leader Musa Abubakar. “The desert is mercilessly encroaching southward, swallowing up fertile lands that have sustained generations of farmers and herders.”

“If we fail to address this crisis promptly, the repercussions will be devastating, not only for northern Nigeria but for the entire nation and the broader region.”

Windstorm in Gamawa, Bauchi State

Experts warn that urgent action is needed to combat desertification and mitigate its catastrophic impacts. They advocate for a multifaceted approach involving sustainable land management practices, reforestation efforts, investment in drought-resistant agriculture, and the promotion of alternative livelihoods.

As the desert continues its relentless march, the plight of those affected by desertification demands immediate attention and concerted efforts from all stakeholders, including the government, international organizations, and local communities, to halt this environmental crisis and safeguard the future of northern Nigeria.

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), a total of 2,437,000 displacements and 18,000 IDPs were recorded due to natural disasters in 2022.

Climate Change-Induced Extreme Weather Ravages Bauchi

On Sunday, May 5, 2024, some parts of Bauchi state witnessed unprecedented natural phenomena recently, indicating the urgent need for climate action. The town of Darazo was engulfed by a thick dust storm, leaving residents stunned and highlighting the region’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.

Eyewitnesses described streets and buildings shrouded in a dusty haze, as wind-driven dust clouds swept through the area, accompanied by infernos in some communities.

Residents, shaken by the ordeal, expressed relief that there were no reported deaths or significant injuries. However, the aftermath of the storm revealed extensive damage to infrastructure and heightened concerns about the region’s susceptibility to extreme weather events.

“I’ve lived in Darazo all my life, and I’ve never witnessed anything like this before,” Abdurrahman Darazo, one of the residents shaken by the experience told WikkiTimes.

The same storm knocked neighbouring local councils including Warji, and Gamawa, among others. In Warji, several residents were rendered homeless following the windstorm that destroyed houses, hospitals and schools.

Najeeb Garba Musa, a resident of Warji recounted “We went around the village in the evening yesterday Monday discovered that over 15 houses were destroyed, the problem caused by the windstorm was enormous. Currently, General Hospital Katanga Warji barely collapsed, and classes and the examination hall of GDSS Bangon Duniya, Katanga also destroyed by the windstorm.”

Structure destroyed by windstorm in Warji, Bauchi state
Destroyed hospital in Warji

Experts in meteorology have attributed such phenomena, including the recent dust storm in some parts of Bauchi State, to climate change. Human activities, such as deforestation and unsustainable land use practices, are altering the Earth’s surface and contributing to changing weather patterns, which, in turn, exacerbate the vulnerability of communities to natural disasters.

Bauchi state, like much of northern Nigeria, is also grappling with the impacts of climate change, including desert encroachment, rising temperatures, and erratic weather patterns.

Over the past two decades, the region has experienced significant changes in its climate, with extreme weather events becoming more frequent and severe.

Despite the growing climate risks facing the northern regions, government spending on climate adaptation and disaster mitigation measures remains inadequate. Budget allocations for flood and erosion control have fallen short of the actual needs, leaving communities ill-prepared to cope with the impacts of climate change-induced disasters.

Meanwhile, WikkiTimes’ review of the 2023 budget performance report has shown that northern states spent N0 (zero naira) on erosion and flooding control in 2023.

The budget performance report shows that Kano state budgeted N277 million for erosion and flooding control in 2023 but spent zero naira. Gombe state also budgeted the sum of N110 million but spent N0 (zero naira). Zamfara state budgeted N150 million but spent Zero naira in the year for the purposes.

While Kogi budgeted the sum of N101 million for flooding and erosion control, only N1.92 million was spent, representing 1.9% of the money budgeted in 2023. Floods in Kogi State were devastating in 2022, submerging houses and leading to loss of lives, yet the expenditure the following year on flood and erosion control remained poor.

In Kaduna state, the sum of N177.8 million was budgeted with the sum of N45.9 million spent at the end of the year. While Bauchi state budgeted the sum of N277 million、it spent only the sum of N115 million on flooding and erosion control in the year.


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