The environment is a complex and interactive system consisting of the atmosphere, land surface and bodies of water, as well as living things. Degradation of any element of the environmental system will either have positive or negative feedback effects on the others.
Development will be much meaningful if it does not increase a country’s vulnerability to environmental hazards. If a nation’s environmental foundations are depleted, its economy may as well decline, its social fabric may deteriorate, and its political structure may even become obsolete.
Most horrible ecological crises result from urban-industrial technological revolution and speedy exploitation of every bit of natural resources. Globally, man-made pollutants from combustion, construction, mining, agriculture and warfare are increasingly significant in the air pollution equation.
The environment is the life supporting system given by the creator for human existence and other biotic organisms. The environment provides raw material required for socio-economic activities. In times past, the three components of the environment – air, soil and water were pure virgin. But humanity has no choice but to interact with its
Unfortunately, human activities, natural disaster and climate change are putting undue pressure and impact on the quality of our environment.
Nigeria as a developing country is strongly predisposed to severe negative impacts of climate change due to the nature of its diverse economy, low adaptive capacity and weak resilience.
Much of Nigeria’s economy is totally dependent on climate-sensitive resources. For example, the oil and gas sector, and agricultural sector which contributes the highest quota to the country’s GDP is very climate sensitive.
If the environment can be managed properly, it can be produce resources to meet our socio-economic needs not only for today, but for generations yet unborn.
But if poorly managed, it could easily become hazardous and life-threatening to the country’s survival and its habitants.
Nigeria’s environment is under increasing threat from natural and human disasters. There are certain ominous problems associated with the environment and visible scars in the destruction of the natural resource base upon which all life depends.
Nigeria’s large population of about 170 million and its rapid growth rate of 2.8 percent are contributing to its environmental degradation.
The main environmental challenge facing Nigeria as a country includes land degradation, deforestation, desertification, air, land and water pollution.
Much of the country’s land is rural, carrying farmlands and vegetation of various types as well as water reservoirs. The vast majority of urban dwellers uses stocks from this lands to meet its growing unbridled non-land use demands
Earth mining and quarries for urban development is a major component eating up the rural land that has evidently been ignored over the years. Left uncontrolled as it is today, future access to rural land is becoming more difficult due to erosion.
Even the land now under rural use is severely threatened.
Much of Nigeria’s arable land is being constantly sapped of its productive potential through overuse and urbanization. There is a rapid deforestation resulting from multiple uses of forest resources for human survival is a major contributing factor to land degradation.
The end result of deforestation and other agricultural activities, including intensive and uncontrollable grazing, and over-cultivation, is severe land degradation.
Another challenging factor in the Nigerian system is the disposal of e-waste which is currently creating environmental health impacts. For instance, e-waste disposal in landfills has the potential to cause severe human and environmental health impacts. Plastics in electronics easily leach off in hot weather, especially when left outside.
Another, factor impacting negatively to the Nigerian environment is poverty.
Despite its enormous natural resources and wealth, Nigeria remains poor country. About 69% of Nigerian population is estimated to be living below the poverty level of 2 USD/day. The poor are more vulnerable to environmental hazards such as droughts, floods, erosions and the impact of climate change.
In the process of exploration and exploitation, the natural environment is polluted and poverty becomes more pronounced.
Niger Delta Situation
Nigeria has one of the worst environmental records in the world . Today, the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria is always the first point of reference when analysing the Nigerian environment. Oil and Gas exploration has aggravated the problem of ecological damage in the Niger Delta region.
Pollution from oil exploration activities and gas flaring in the Niger Delta remains a source of concern to the government. Oil spills from leaking underground pipelines or due to sabotage of storage tanks are a regular occurrence, rendering vast tracts of land and water bodies unproductive in the region.
Pollution due to gas flaring goes on daily resulting in acid rain and heat stress which continues to degrade the ecosystem. Crude oil spillage continues to affects overall crop production as well as the fishing activities of the people.
There are a number of possible solutions to tackle environmental problems in Nigeria; some of them are listed below
The Nigerian environmental policy covers the legislations, standards, regulations and administrations adopted to control activities with potential damaging effects on the country’s environment. Environmental
laws have been formulated to deal with a variety of environmental pollutants, such as toxic chemicals, noise, etc.; control particular activities, such as mining, power generation, etc.; and provide general guidelines for protecting basic natural resources, such as air, land and water. But these policies are not being implemented leading to an increased environmental pollution.
Environmental protection is an expensive business, but finance should not be an excuse for not protecting the environment. However, the cost of not protecting the environment is much higher because of the direct
and multiplier effects on the national economy and socio-cultural life. The bulk of the finance of environmental protection should ideally come from government coffers to ensure the non-interference by resource interests that may work against those of the nation. Multilateral and donor funding avenues are also available and these should be accessed without being allowed to affect the nation’s negotiation principles especially with regard to the CBD, UNFCCC and others directly or indirectly related to the environment.
Sustainable Management of Natural Resources
Environment-unfriendly practices such as large-scale deforestation and land clearing, inappropriate and illegal mining, excessive irrigation water supply, inappropriate use of agrochemicals and inorganic fertilizers, uncontrolled and poor livestock farming practices, gas flaring should be checkmate.
Environmentally Sound Technology
The exploitation of natural resources, consumption of energy, production processes and generation of environmental pollution, wastes and degradation depend on the types of technology adopted.
The major challenge for the country is to adopt and use environmentally sound technologies (ESTs), whether exogenously or endogenously developed because they will contribute significantly to productivity and the sustainability of resources through renewable-energy generation, pollution control, and waste reduction.
Climate Change and Disaster Management
The effects of climate change are already manifesting in increasing extreme climatic events particularly storms, flooding and rising temperatures as well as altered climatic and weather regimes.
These are creating many other effects such as declining productivity of rain-fed agriculture and relocation of populations with all its consequences.
In the long run all the sectors of the economy could be severely impacted with huge losses including life. They should be a proper and effective measures put in place for climate and disaster management
Land Conservation and Afforestation
Severe land degradation continues to ravage the country, resulting in drastic reduction in the productivity of land resources. Reducing the rate and severity of desertification and reversing land degradation is a key challenge for environmental sustainability and sustainable development of the country. Also, the government can embark and
encourage tree planting, especially in areas where deserts are encroaching.
Proper Waste management
Poor waste management that is prevalent in Nigeria is inimical to the sustenance of the environment as well as the overall economic development of the country. Controlling indiscriminate dumping of household and industrial wastes on land, water and air will be a good way to curb this menace.
Nigeria ranks among the most urbanized countries in the world with the rate about 56% in 2015. The pace of urbanization increase has been such that maintenance of modest environmental standards had inevitably
The functionality of most urban areas is thus reduced in addition to exerting adverse impacts on households, macro-economic performance and social well-being. This situation poses a major challenge to economic growth and sustainable development. As such, policy implementation is paramount in checking this plague.
Integrated Coastal Management
Nigeria’s coastal region suffers much degradation from diverse of human activities, particularly oil exploration and exploitation, agricultural and industrial development. The authorities responsible for the coastal and marine environment should put in place measures that will address these issues. Also, oil spillage and sabotage should
be treated with urgency.
Inadequate Environmental Education and Awareness
Nigerians are poorly aware of their environment and how their day to day activities like settlement expansion, bush burning, littering etc are doing damage to the environment.
Therefore, national efforts should be put in place to sanitize and address environmental issues starting from the rural areas. Broad public opinion and participation should also be put in consideration for sustainable development.
This will enable many Nigerians to be aware of their role in environmental management and also enhance their access to timely and accurate information on the environment. Sound environmental management has to be based on openness and inclusiveness at all levels. Therefore, it is imperative that environmental education and public awareness is promoted to ensure broad-based environmental management, involving the many and varied stakeholders.
Conservation of Shared Natural Resources
Conflicts over control and management of shared resources are very common in many parts of Nigeria. For example, in the Niger Delta region, there are groups canvassing for full control of resources. This calls for a framework for a harmonized and common approach to the conservation and management of such shared resources.
The science of using a microorganism to clean up Nigera’s environment could also be a easy way out.
As mentioned earlier, man’s day to day activities in his environment involve a lot of chemical production from natural products.
In the quest for converting wood into timber, use of fruits in juice production, use of herb for drug synthesis, conversion of petrochemical substances into polythene products, the environment correspondingly becomes littered with substances not needed in the cause of production. In the process of creating products, man also creates problems either consciously or unconsciously vis-à-vis pollution.
As a result, the most acceptable solution to the generated wastes in the environment will have to be the integration of these substances back into the environment.
This method involves the use of microorganisms—usually yeasts, bacteria, or fungi as whole cell usage production system or in the form of industrial enzymes.
These microorganisms or their products are integrated into the substrates which give us the products, desired in the industries, examples of these are bioleaching (biomining), biodetergent, biotreatment of pulp, biotreatment of wastes (bioremediation), biofiltrations, aquaculture treatments, biotreatment of textiles, biocatalysts, biomass fuel production, biomonitoring, and so forth.
These biotools can help solve the problem of environmental pollution and sustainability. Moreover, products generated from this process are strictly biological instead of chemical (synonymous to pollution introduction).
Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring and assessment of environmental change is critical to ensure the effective implementation of this Policy. The Federal Ministry of the Environment, as the responsible coordinating Ministry should define review mechanisms as well as a process to develop a Monitoring and Evaluation System that will ensure that climate change
impacts are monitored appropriately.
To this end, the Government will in the short-term design and publish a draft Environmental Monitoring and Evaluation System, which can be linked to the national environmental information system and used for reporting and verification requirements for the implementation of this Policy.
Anthropogenic activities aimed at socio-economic development, which seeks to increase the quantum of economic output without caring about the short- and long-term short-changes of human and material resources arising from the process, occasion environmental degradation that must be managed and controlled in order to sustain the environment for the present and future generations. To this end, Nigeria has formulated
environmental protection policy.
Many of the policies are dated and many fragmented. Many of them were not formulated with contributions from informed masses nor based on nationally generated baseline data, but on adapted guidelines and standards approved by the appropriate system of the United Nations, thereby compromising socio-economic and climatic differences.
Participation of the people in policy formulation and implementation.