From Okwe Obi, Abuja

the The federal government has announced plans to borrow $600 million from the World Bank to address environmental degradation in the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The National Program Coordinator of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project, Salisu Dahiru said this during a consultative engagement with Agro-Climate Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) state-level stakeholders, yesterday in Abuja.

Represented by ACReSAL Water Resources Specialist, Ayuba Anda Yalaks, he said: “The project is to address the issue and challenges of environmental degradation in terms of deforestation, erosion, management of water reserves, meeting the needs of populations in terms of food production.

“There is a need to restore these lands to better productive use. Since we also restore the landscape. The project must be implemented at the community level because the people in the community are the most affected. We are targeting the 19 northern states plus the FCT. The cost of this project is approximately $600 million for a period of six years. It’s a loan that the federal government gets from the World Bank.

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“It may interest you to know that this project was not created by the Federal Government of Nigeria sitting here in Abuja; this is the project that was initiated by the different state governments considering the particularity and needs. This project has a strong political will that all the Nigerian Governors Forums had to meet virtually and chaired by the Northern Governors Forum, to ensure that they proceed with the project as requested. States participate fully and communities are also aware. Sensitization is already underway even before the entry into force of the project.

Asked why the southern region was excluded, he replied that “the south is affected in terms of gully erosion and flooding. But you know that we had a project called NEWMAP which aimed to solve the problem of gully erosion and land degradation.

“For this particular project as you heard earlier, the aridity index is what is taken into account; the driest part of the country because the challenge in terms of water resources management in terms of production agriculture is enormous Agro-Climate and Landscape Resilience.

HarvestPlus Nigeria Country Manager Yusuf Dollah said the meeting was aimed at enabling stakeholders to share ideas on how to promote climate-tolerant crops.

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