Considering the serious impact of natural disasters over the world, particularly in developing countries, the United Nations (UN) observes the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction annually on the second Wednesday of October to raise the profile of disaster risk reduction. The 2017 campaign seeks to raise global awareness about effective actions, policies and practices that can lessen these disasters at all levels, thereby contributing to saving homes and livelihoods. This is a considerable challenge which can be accomplished through coordination, cooperation and collaboration among various stakeholders and a campaign for people and governments to engage in safe environmental practices that enhances communities and nations.
Nigeria, like the rest of the world, is exposed to a wide range of natural or human induced disasters. While some of these disasters are rapid, others have a slow-onset, resulting in catastrophic situations which lead to loss of lives, property and environmental degradation. These disasters could occur in form of drought, desertification, flooding, epidemics, coastal erosion, dam failure, building collapse, oil spillage, maritime collision or accident, fire amongst others. Since the beginning of time, some human activities have been impacting the environment negatively. Population growth has led to increased urbanisation which in turn negatively affects agricultural activities as green areas, arable lands and trees are overtaken and cut down for commercial purposes. In line with this, findings from NOI’s past poll on climate change in Nigeria revealed a decline in forest covers in most parts of the country with more than half of the respondents observing fewer trees in their communities over the years.
Furthermore, the increasing consumption of fossil fuels has also directly impacted the environment negatively, mainly through changes in global weather patterns, leading to an increase in natural disasters like floods and wildfires. Not to mention that Nigeria has witnessed series of floods in several parts of the country which have had direct impacts on the citizens; such as the loss of lives, properties and livelihood as well as socio-economic instability. For instance, the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, in August 2017, reported that over 110,000 people in 24 communities in Benue state were displaced by flood in recent months hence forcing them to live elsewhere.
Finally, in view of the 2017 International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction, it is therefore pertinent that organizations, governments and other stakeholders synergise efforts to regulate deforestation by enforcing forest preservation and green areas’ policies, rules and laws. For instance, laws on timber, wood fuel, farming and land use among other forest resources must be advanced and enforced to limit deforestation. Deforestation can also be counteracted through awareness, sensitization and educative campaigns to help citizens understand the causes, effects, and ways of counteracting deforestation while also emphasizing the negative effects of deforestation. Finally, government must implement programmes that reduce the speed of deforestation in Nigeria and policies that will help towards minimizing firewood consumption. These will help in curtailing the impact of deforestation on the climate, soil degradation, desertification, erosion and decline in agricultural productivity.