By Rosemary Ogbonnaya
Federal Ministry of Environment has said it is accelerating implementation of various projects to address environmental challenges in the country.
The Minister of Environment, Sharon Ikeazor disclosed this at the meeting of the 15th National Council on Environment, NCE, held in Abuja, weekend.
Ikeazor said for Nigeria to realise environment of her dream, it is imperative to consistently tackle environmental challenges such as climate change, deforestation, desert encroachment, loss of biodiversity, flood and erosion, environmental pollution amongst others.
She said that Ministry has developed strategies along the nine priority areas outlined by the current administration to build a thriving and sustainable economy; enhance social inclusion and reduce poverty; enlarge agricultural output for food security and export; attain energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products and expand transport and other infrastructural development.
To achieve agriculture and food security, and ensure energy sufficiency in Power and Petroleum products, according to Ikeazor, the Ministry is accelerating implementation of the Ogoni Clean up through Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), saying that about 15.3 Hectares of polluted land has so far been remediated into arable land suitable for agricultural activities in Ogoniland.
“Currently on-going is the construction of six water supply schemes with a capacity of supplying 2400 cubic meters (m3) of portable water per day to communities across the four LGAs of Ogoniland.
She also said that the Ministry is accelerating the implementation of the Great Green Wall Programme, through its Agency, the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW), which was established principally to reverse land degradation and desertification by supporting local communities in the sustainable management and use of natural resources to reduce poverty, enhance food security and promote sustainable livelihood.
According to her, the Agency has cumulatively increased the total average of arable land recovered from a baseline of 90 Hectares in 2019 to 4,792 Hectares by second quarter of 2021. It has also increased the number of trees (Orchards and Woodlots) Planted from one million and eighty thousand (1,080,000) to five million, six hundred and twelve thousand four hundred (5,612,400). In the same vein,Federal Department of Forestry and Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) has also increased the vegetation cover from the baseline of one hundred and fifty five thousand two hundred (155,200) trees in 2019 to six hundred and thirty five thousand, eight hundred and forty (635,840) by the second quarter of 2021.
In addressing the adverse effects of pollution in the environment, the Ministry is ensuring compliance with global environmental agreements through transformative strategies such as: The Extended Producer Responsibility,EPR,framework being implemented in three sub-sectors; electrical electronics equipment, food and beverages, and battery waste streams. The goal is to formalise the activities of producers in these sectors to ensure sustainable production and consumption processes.
Another strategy is Implementation of comprehensive programme on the domestic use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas.
She explained that the Ministry has taken positive steps towards the actualization of the Gas Utilization Initiative (GUI): Development of Environmentally Friendly & Sustainable Gas to Energy Master Plan (Mapping of Gas Flare Points Project in Nigeria.
The Minister, therefore, urged National Council to critically appraise the emerging challenges faced by the environment while also acknowledging the opportunities that are inherent to be able to balance our actions towards achieving a sustainable environment.