Socio-Economic Impacts of Desertification in Nigeria
Most climatic and environmental changes that occur today are manifestations of man’s inadvertent modifications of climate based on his livelihood strategies. Climatic variation in Nigeria is physically evident in desertification and drought, especially in the northernmost states. The latter also affects the social and economic structure and framework, and by implication, the survival of the effected population of animal and humans. Desertification affects the people’s livelihoods and the people affect desertification. Poverty is a key indicator of desertification. Also, there appears to be a very strong connection between desertification and the pattern of communal clashes in Nigeria. The immediate triggers of agricultural decline and high food prices are traceable to desertification, and the results are manifested in massive migration of rural folks to the urban areas and the struggle and clashes over available land resources such as farm land, grazing land, home land, water, minerals, forests, etc. Massive rural-urban migration results in widespread breakdown of urban infrastructure, crime and the emergence of urban slums, ghettos and squatter settlements, which portrays the social dimensions of desertification. This study recommends afforestation, agricultural innovation, livelihood diversification, global partnership and environmental awareness for rural development.
Key Words: Desertification, environmental crisis, population pressure, rural livelihoods, agricultural innovation and socioeconomic impacts.