Great Green Wall: Key to Nigeria’s Greatness

Hamzat Lawal July 4, 2019 0

Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive CODE

The Great Green Wall (GGW) is one of the most audacious efforts in human history, because the GGW countries are faced with conflict, migration, poverty and hunger at the same time, and at an unprecedented level.

Now that a new Director General has taken over at the helm of affairs at the National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW), it is time for a general reappraisal of the essence of the agency in order to properly situate it in the blueprint of building a new and robust Nigeria where the youth shall find a pride of place.

Recently, the Federal Government appointed Dr Bukar Hassan as the new DG of the NAGGW, replacing Mr Ahmed Goni who had been the Director General since the inception of the agency until his recent disengagement after his four years of tenure elapsed. It is interesting to note that the new DG will easily fit into these shoes because he has always been part of the green family.

Hassan was once the Head of Project Implementation Unit of the Great Green Wall, and Director, Drought and Desertification Amelioration at the Federal Ministry of Environment. He rose to become the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment in 2015, and was redeployed to Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2017 until his retirement in September 2018.

Meanwhile, one must not fail to recognize the laudable milestones achieved by the outgoing Director-General, Goni. In a country where budgets are apportioned to other projects without question and when it concerns green issues eyebrows are raised, one needs to appreciate the efforts of the outgoing Great Green Wall agency boss as a trail blazer in the issue of national building and environmental rejuvenation.

Goni and the former Minister of Environment who is now the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, had worked tirelessly for the mainstreaming of the Great Green Wall project in the Nigerian developmental administration. Shortly before Ms Mohammed left Nigeria to resume her new duties at the UN, she had spoken passionately about the merits of the project and affirmed that there was light at the end of the tunnel because GGW was an initiative of solidarity among a family of countries across the Sahel and the Sahara that were taking collective responsibility.

The Nigerian Great Green Wall Programme commenced because Nigeria is a signatory to the GGW Convention. Later in 2015, in committing to the implementation of the Initiative, Nigeria established the National Agency for the Great Green Wall to coordinate the implementation. Also, a Strategic Action Plan was developed to serve as the programme implementation framework.

The Strategic Action Plan is a five-year plan with the goal of improving the wellbeing of the affected people and reducing their vulnerability to the impact of desertification orchestrated by climate change through improved use of land and other natural resources for sustainable development and support to climate infrastructure. The development objective is to combat land degradation and desertification in Nigeria in order to protect and restore ecosystems and essential ecosystem services that are key to reducing poverty, enhancing food security, and promoting sustainable livelihoods.

The Great Green Wall for Sahel and Sahara Initiative (GGWSSI) is more than creating a wall of trees stretching from Senegal in West Africa to Djibouti in East Africa. It is a metaphor to depict a mosaic of integrated interventions tackling the multiple challenges affecting the lives of people in the Sahel and Sahara areas. It is an African Union programme bringing together 20 countries from the Sahel-Saharan region including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, The Gambia and Tunisia.

The implementation of the Initiative in Nigeria encompasses the eleven frontline states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara. Desertification is one of the major environmental challenges in Nigeria threatening the livelihoods of over 50 million people in these States. It involves the establishment of a greenbelt covering 1500km from Dandi Arewa Local Government Area of Kebbi State to Marte in Borno State.

So, on a wider scale, The Great Green Wall Initiative holds the key to the future of African drylands. It is a daring initiative that has the potential to bring back to the continent food and water security, create jobs and new economic opportunities, help in fighting climate change and allow people not to only survive but to thrive sustainably.

In Nigeria to be specific, the initiative remains the major mechanism that can be used to ensure the sustainable development of the drylands, combat rural poverty and create hope for the affected people. Within the framework of the GGW programme, it has been envisaged that about 22,500sqkm of degraded land in the dry region of the country will be rehabilitated for agricultural production and the livelihoods of over 25 million people will be improved by the year 2030.

It will also help immensely in the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced People (IDPS) by creating job opportunities, managing income generation activities and systematically reclaiming degraded farm lands. In addition, it will reduce farmers – herders conflicts by creating grazing reserves and fodder farms in the Northern dry land areas. This way, the rate of South-ward migration of herders shall significantly reduce.

Nevertheless, there are vital points to note as Nigeria enters another phase in the Great Green Wall implementation. The first is finance. The project cannot go far if the government does not fund it properly. As it stands today, the agency is still living from hand to mouth, because it is not well-funded. It is supposed to receive 15% of the Ecological Fund but all evidence points to the fact that it is not doing so.

Secondly, the agency is actually an inter-sectoral agency that has a crosscutting job across many aspects of our nationhood, hence its importance, yet it is not ingrained in the consciousness of many Nigerians. The success of the agency is Nigeria’s success, as many other countries in the Great Green Wall belt are actually looking up to us.

To be candid, youth participation should be an integral part of the agency’s activities because they are the future of the Nigeria and the GGW holds the key to a sustainable future. There has to be a strategic resuscitation of the entire sustainability value chain – livestock, horticulture, etc – in the Great Green Wall. This way, young people can be empowered not only in the North but in other parts of the country where services are provided and raw materials processed; effectively taking 60 million youths out of poverty in the near future.

Finally, the incoming DG has before him a great opportunity to make history. He needs to build the capacity of the staff of the agency, while ensuring that modern technologies are employed to create a synergy between his various teams and the critical stakeholders scattered all over the nation.

Dr Bukar Hassan needs to also rejig the platforms that will enhance accountability and transparency so that the international community shall find the justification to scale up its support of Nigeria and the agency in the efforts they are set to achieve. In this way also, the wider grassroots citizens of our ever-increasing Follow The Money community shall find ample leverage to engage the agency and hold them to account.

Hamzat Lawal is an activist and currently the Founder/Chief Executive of Connected Development [CODE]. He is working to build the largest social accountability grassroots movement of citizen-led actions through Follow The Money for better service delivery in rural hard-to-reach communities in Africa.

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Hamzat Lawal is an activist and currently the Founder/Chief Executive of Connected Development [CODE]. He is working to build the largest social accountability grassroots movement of citizen-led actions through Follow The Money for better service delivery in rural hard-to-reach communities in Africa.

CODE :The Future We See through Follow The Money Newsroom.

Hamzat Lawal July 19, 2016 2

A non-governmental organisation Follow The Money, an initiative of Connected Development (CODE)Connected Development (CODE) is set to launch “Virtual Newsroom.

The products from the Virtual Newsroom is set to further engage and empower more marginalized people in rural communities to enhance their livelihoods.

DOTUNSpeaking at an In-house training organised by CODE, the monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Oludotun Babayemi said Follow The Money is planning  a virtual newsroom that will run 24 hours – several times in a month with the objective of strengthening the voice of 95 million Nigerians leaving in rural communities in Nigeria, while increasing their participation in governance.

He said it’s important to have a participatory kind of discussion on how the newsroom is meant to look like, who’s doing what and create a larger workflow other than the one we have been using.

“We are talking about a newsroom that has over 60 reporters reporting into it from remote places. This means we need a robust, scalable and efficient framework other than the one we were using before. We thought it will be good to have a meeting to deliberate, discuss, make comments and suggestions about how the newsroom is meant to look like and also decide on the future of Follow The money,”he said.

The Monitoring and Evaluation officer, said Follow the Money is always motivated by stories from rural communities, which never gets into the mainstream media, adding that  every time there is a visit , they hear about new stories, not just for the success alone but of  failures of communities that are still ailing other than the ones that  are focused on.

He added that it is always motivating  that the group  can do more and  can have more people to do more.

“We are looking at the massive strength in the young people that we have, we can engage more of them and we can also have more communities that will be proactively vigilant in ensuring transparency and accountability of funds meant for their communities as well. These are the motivation for Follow The Money,” he said.

Speaking on the challenges, Babayemi said the challenges the movement  might face is keeping that of  retaining human resources and availability of financial resources
GROUP 3

“Some people might leave at some point  because  we can’t bring in 60-75 people and expect them to only be focused on our mission and goal. Some people would think of something else such as thinking of another movement from there. Both are the critical challenges we are looking forward to as we move on.,”he said

He further called on the general public to be on the lookout for new radio programs that will come up especially Follow the Money radio, adding that radio is what people in the rural communities rely on to get information.

Mr. Babayemi explained that Follow the Money radio will be used in increasing rural community participation on governance as it concerns implementation of funds meant for capital projects in their communities l.

“ They should look out for some of our bulletins and prints that we would want to share with them on the money we are following and money for the community and also on what the government is saying about such money should be something interesting the communities should be looking forward to,”he said.

Well in the next 15  years, the vision will be to see the present 95 million Nigerians living in rural communities listening and engaging their leaders through the Follow the Money Radio, likewise, seeing 50%  of that population sending in feedback to Follow the Money via SMS and our various online portal. Mr Babayemi noted

He said these target audience  could also be able to read about  Follow the Money In  online and offline bulletins or magazines.

“In essence, seeing  Follow the Money as a community mechanism where they can also read about their own community, and get their voices amplified is the future we see through Follow the Money and I hope that we will be able to achieve that,” he said.

 

    

 

Skin & Bones: The Great Green Wall Project

Hamzat Lawal January 7, 2016 0

The dry, dusty trade wind, blows over the West African subcontinent thinly coating surfaces with dust, cracking up skins and drying up moisture in the atmosphere. Harmattan – the yearly phenomenon which sends winds from the Sahara Desert into the Gulf of Guinea has brought with it a period of hotter days and colder nights than experienced in recent years.

The earth is getting warmer; climate change is tipping on the negative.

The Great Green Wall Project or Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative is a planned project to plant a wall of trees across Africa at the southern edge of the Sahara desert as a means to prevent desertification. It was developed by the African Union to address the detrimental social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification in the Sahel and the Sahara.

Contributing to improved local incomes, the Great Green Wall will be a global answer to the combined effect of natural resources degradation and drought in rural areas. The Initiative is a partnership that supports the effort of local communities in the sustainable management and use of forests and other natural resources in drylands.
The bulk of the work on the ground was initially slated to be concentrated along a stretch of land from Djibouti, in the east to Dakar, Senegal, in the west—an expanse 15 kilometers (9 miles) wide and 7,775 kilometers (4,831 miles) long. The project later expanded to include countries in both northern and western Africa.

In 2007, during the eight ordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Governments held on January 29 and 30, 2007 in Addis-Ababa (Ethiopia), African Heads of State and Government endorsed the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative.
Subsequently, in June 2010, a convention was signed by Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan in Ndjamena, Chad, to create the Great Green Wall (GGW) Agency which created the Panafrican Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW).

The land degradation experienced is a factor of both human-related and natural activities; poor farming activities, overgrazing, illegal waste management, and extreme weather are the most common causes.
It is estimated that 500 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are affected by land degradation which poses threats to agricultural productivity which is a main source of livelihood.

The project’s $2 billion budget, stemming largely from World Bank co-financing and partnerships fostered by the African Union, ensures participating countries will have the means to see the project through to the end. Examples of success include more than 50,000 acres of trees planted in Senegal.

Nigeria GGWNG

Figure 1: The expected growth path of the GGW project

Implementation of the project in Nigeria takes place in eleven frontline States of Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno. Covering over 43 LGAs and rehabilitate 225,000 Hectares of land.

The Follow The Money team decided to do on-site visit in November 2015 to the projects in Kebbi [Bachaka], Kano [Kadandanni] and Jigawa [Jeke]; Kebbi because the GGW was flagged – off in Kebbi State in November 2014, Kano to compare the success of the GGW to the state’s government reforestation program, and Jigawa because it shares an international border with the Republic of Niger.

Abubakar Maiyaki (Mai Yakin Bachaka) the deputy of the traditional leader of Bachaka said the Great Green Wall project has made significant impact in their community. “Community members have undergone training and recruited as forest and security guards, an orchard was created where economic trees were planted, shelter belts were also planted and are flourishing, two boreholes were provided to the community, social mobilization and sensitization of the community on the importance of tree planting were carried out, school children were trained on how to plant trees and gardening”

For Maiyaki, the Great Green Wall project provides an opportunity to empower and educate the community on the importance of tree planting

In Kano, the team visited Kadandanni community in Makoda LGA and welcomed by Adamu Abdullahi, the traditional leader of the community who expressed that the community were initially excited about the project; an optimism that has waned with the passing months.

“The Kadandani inhabitants are much aware about the benefit of planting trees, owing to awareness and training programmes by the government, but it has had its own challenges, at the beginning of the GGW, we were promised water, an important amenity to us and our livestocks, but looking back, this is not the case if you visit the proposed site for this amenities”

Abdullahi felt that the project had become politicised as the norm with pressing issues in Nigeria.
An assessment of the existing infrastructure in the community showed poor maintenance of the solar powered pumps for water – the borehole had stopped working six months ago, the storage shed for tools had been blown away winds earlier, the orchard was drying up and dying.

The team also met with the representative of the women association, Hajiya Mari who was selected to head to Katsina state for 2-day seminar on the importance of the project. Mari said they were trained on how to grow plants and given date seedlings to plant in the community to fight off desertification, and she has planted 10 in her house.

The story isn’t any different at Jeke, a dry community located in Sule Tankarkar LGA in Jigawa state. Yakubu Magaji, the community leader who took the team to inspect the site of the project expressed dismay at the state of the nursery, orchard and wind-powered borehole.

“The wind is not strong enough to fully power the borehole”

Magaji says as the community has to subsidise using the borehole three times a week to generate water needed.

MOVING ON …
As much as the Great Green Wall project is seen as means to reduce the expansion of the Sahara into Nigeria, it represents an opportunity to restore land once rich with biodiversity and vegetation. There is a commitment by the Federal Government of Nigeria and other governments to the project but the pace is almost negligible.

If the project comes to fruition, it can really help the sub-Saharan part of Africa and the continent on a whole in its drive to help the climate, provide a means of empowering communities and create a large social impact.

#Kadandani – Thriving on the heels of economical trees, threatened by unfulfilled promises!

codepress November 21, 2015 0

How does doing a community outreach in a state where a suicide bomber just killed so many lives sounds like? Yes we were in Kano, when the tragedy struck, but many times this would not distract us like someone said during our radio engagement “I think the Follow The Money team are a group of Nigerians that are never shaken, even in the light of insecurity in the North”.Maybe the next conversation, might be – “How do you manage it?”

 

We are typical Nigerians that follows not only money for good, but our passion pushes us, and so same passion took us to Kadandani in Makoda Local Government of Kano State. Estimated to have a population of 6,000 with one primary and secondary school each, only one source of water that  thrives on an alternative power – the AC generator;and a clinic that has only one midwife attending to patients.

The Shelter Belt initiated by the Kano State Government two decades ago

                                            The Shelter Belt initiated by the Kano State Government two decades ago

 

Kadandani has a long stretch of shelterbelts, which made us think the community might be thriving on economical trees “Each woman in the community has four Date trees she nurtures, hoping that in future years, we will reap from each Date fruit”  affirmed Hajiya Mari the head of the women association in Kadandani who recently attended a 2 days seminar on the importance of the Great Green Wall project and they were directed to submit their registration and bank account details which they did. She mentioned that same project was initiated by the Kano State government and has been in existence 4 years ago. “The huge shelter belts surrounding our community is an initiative of the state government, it started decades ago, but what we hope for now is that the government can now provide processing machines for peanuts harvested by our women, as such we can make kuli-kuli in large scale” explained Mari

 

The Great Green Wall (GGW) project in Kadandani has lived to its expectation with awareness, trainings and shortcomings in unfulfilled promises of water and social projects. “The Kadandani inhabitants are much aware about the benefit of planting trees, owing to awareness and training programmes by the government, but it has had its own challenges, at the beginning of the GGW, we were promised water, an important amenity to us and our livestocks, but looking back, this is not the case if you visit the proposed site for this amenities” explained Adamu Abdullahi, community head of Kadandani

The FTM team with key groups in the community - from top left is Hajiya Mari

                                           The FTM team with key groups in the community – from top left is Hajiya Mari

 

100m away from the fences of their mud – thatched roofs, is located a “drying up” orchard  with a solar powered tank, which was meant to generate 10 water points for the community, and  a livestock water storage trough. “6 months after this was installed, it stopped working, and since then we have written to the federal government, but there has not been any response and the nurseries and orchards are getting dried up” – says Adamu. But one would have thought that the community would have invested or carry on the burden of sustaining the project, “When there was no response, I had to start using sprinklers and trying to raise new orchards, and I encouraged other community members to do as well, but we can only do a little” Shehu Ibrahim, the owner of one of the 5 hectares of land which the community offered to the federal government for this project.

 

Speaking with the Director, Forestry Department of the State Ministry of Environment, he clearly affirmed the situation in not only Kadandani “although we are trying to restore this water source for the plants, livestock and the people, its been challenging getting the contractors to fix the water tanks properly, and this is not peculiar to Kadandani, we have 5 shelter belts in other 3 other communities in Makoda, and we need to provide water at each communities for the GGW  to survive” explained Danusa Ibrahim, Director, Forestry Department.

The orchard and nursery site in Kadandani, just behind is the non-functional 10 water points

                           The orchard and nursery site in Kadandani, just behind is the non-functional 10 water points

 

Little wonders, why laudable social projects in local communities gets abandoned at the height of hysteria, perhaps, no thinks about its sustainability, or projects are initiated to gain political integrity. “Although as a lead, I have been more enlightened about the benefits of projects like GGW, as we have seen in Zinder, Niger during one of our field trips, it is more important to consult the local communities first before starting social projects like this, also I will advise stakeholders such as lawmakers from these communities should take the lead in some of these consultations, this can help in the sustainability of the project” Miyaki said
So what happens to Kadandani afterwards? As these kind of stories interests us at FTM, we will be looking at every opportunity to get water to the 5,000 people that inhabits Kadandani; and not just to forget their livestocks and flora that exist in their community. If you are in Kano, and you think you want to join in tracking the 70 million Naira that was meant for Kadandani which might lead to getting back water to the 5,000 inhabitants, join us now!

 

Where the Dry Crops Won’t Grow: A Too – Familiar Story of #Bachaka

codepress November 18, 2015 0

In Kebbi State, nothing must have mattered to them , other than their dry season crop planting, but there is a community that is doubting how much they can make, off the planting season – Bachaka, with an estimated population of 5,000 with 1 health center, a primary and secondary school, and the community thrives on four water hand pumps.

The FTM Team engages the Deputy Head of Community at Bachaka on prospects and challenges of the GGW

The FTM Team engages the Deputy Head of Community at Bachaka on prospects and challenges of the GGW

 

In November 2014, Bachaka became the first of 200 communities that would benefit from the Great Green Wall (GGW) project. A project that hopes to provide 1,500km of shelter belt from Kebbi to Borno State; provide water and social projects in 200 beneficiary communities. Lurked away from the city center of Kebbi, Birnin Kebbi, and just 40km away from the Republic of Niger in Arewa Local Government Area, there seems to have been an appreciable progress in Bachaka , since the inception of the GGW, a year ago.

 

“We have two representatives from our community that was sent on trainings and site visits to Zinder, Niger; there has been several awareness programmes as well, especially in making an income from planting economic trees, likewise there is a Ministry of Environment representative who visit here monthly” highlighted Abubakar Maiyaki (Mai Yakin Bachaka), Deputy Head of Community in Bachaka

 

The 1km shelterbelt in Bachaka is thriving, and has had its forest guards and security guards in place watching over it, but there are challenges as well. “Since we started about 4 months ago, we have not been paid our salaries and that has been frustrating for us and our families, as such we urge the government to come to our plight.” complained one of the security guards.

In the background is the spoilt solar and wind powered water tank

                                                  In the background is the spoilt solar and wind powered water tank

 

Shelter belts projects cannot survive without the provision of orchards and nurseries, so that other trees can be planted by the community, but their is a setback for this in Bachaka.” We have written the Federal Ministry of Environment times without number, to come and fix the solar wind powered tank since it stopped working , as all the nurseries and orchards are getting dried up.

 

In Bachaka, two solar powered tanks were installed: One that provides water source to the shelter belt, and another one that provide water for the orchard and nursery.The latter was at first a wind powered water tank which broke down some days after it was installed, it was then replaced by a solar source which also stopped working just 3 months ago, because the pump for the water was stolen! “Farmers that rely on the broken down water source cannot plant this dry season, as their crops get dried up, just like the orchards are already drying up, the tank should be fixed as soon as possible” said Ashiru Mohammed, one of the security men in charge of the orchards.

The nursery for the Acacia, Doum Palm and the Date Palm already drying up in Bachaka

                                    The nursery for the Acacia, Doum Palm and the Date Palm already drying up in Bachaka

 

Ashiru Mohammed was not only the security in charge of the orchards, surprisingly, he doubled as the owner of the land, and pleaded with the government to pay him is compensation for acquiring his land. Ashiru made us understand that he was only looking after the place because of the passion after one of the sensitization programme in Bachaka. Umar Musa, the Director of forestry at the Kebbi State Government affirmed some of the plights of other shelter belts in Kebbi, and was really skeptical about the success of the GGW, if their is not a new direction for the laudable project.
So why, who and how was the pump for the solar powered tank stolen, perhaps there was no guard for the orchard before now, and many times we get cases of stolen pumps when solar powered tanks are installed in rural communities, Bachaka isn’t the first and might not be the last. Despite the progress since the GGW was flagged off in Bachaka, there are too many challenges of consolidating gains with local stakeholders, thus posing a challenge to the sustainability of the GGW in Kebbi State as a whole.In the next coming months, we will be catching up on stories from Bachaka, and how the water issues will be solved to allow farmers continue their dry crop farming.