Grace Oluchi Mbah, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Climate Action Africa

Nigeria, a nation brimming with potential, faces a significant challenge: climate change. In 2023, Nigeria actually recorded a decline in rainfall to about 1061 millimeters (mm) compared to 2022, which was about 1137.078 millimeters (mm). These erratic rainfall patterns, combined with rising sea levels of 0.5 meters, could force 27-53 million Nigerians who live along the coast to relocate by the end of the century. These factors are driving adverse climate effects that are already being felt.

But amidst these challenges lie opportunities. Here, we explore six simple yet impactful climate solutions that Nigerian communities can adopt to build resilience and secure a sustainable future.

  1. Embrace Climate-Smart Agriculture: Nigeria is a developing economy with a 2022 statistics of an estimated population of 88.4 million people who live in extreme poverty. Agriculture can be a solution to the poverty experienced by a majority in Nigeria. According to the World Bank, investing in the agricultural sector is more effective at raising incomes among the world’s poorest. Still, traditional farming methods in Nigeria are often vulnerable to droughts and floods.

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) offers a solution. CSA is a set of farming methods that is aimed at increasing the resilience and productivity of the land affected by climate change. Practices like using drought-resistant crop varieties, practicing water-saving irrigation techniques like drip irrigation, and incorporating cover crops to improve soil health all contribute to a more resilient agricultural system. By adopting CSA techniques, Nigerian farmers can not only protect their livelihoods but also become part of the climate solution. It is important to note that Climate Smart Agriculture is a solution to the many problems caused by climate shocks but not a final solution to climate change.

  1. Plant Trees, Reap the Rewards: The United Nations places Nigeria as the highest with a deforestation rate in the world, with an estimated 3.7% of its forest lost every year. Expanding agriculture and logging; both illegal and legal are some of the causes of deforestation in Nigeria. Still, it is imperative to understand that forests play a vital role in regulating climate.

Interestingly, in 2023, some of the States in Nigeria were involved in tree-planting initiatives. There is still a lot that needs to be done. Nigeria could take a cue from Ethiopia that accomplished an exceptional feat in 2019 when they planted 350 million trees within 12 hours. Large-scale tree planting initiatives can create green corridors, improve air quality, and mitigate the effects of floods and droughts. Planting trees also provides economic benefits. Programs that encourage community involvement in tree planting, with benefits like carbon credits or fruit production, can create a sense of ownership and ensure the long-term success of these initiatives.

  1. Harness the Power of Nature: Harnessing solar energy technologies for generating electricity as an option for fossil fuel energy usage in Nigeria could prove to be a huge solution to climate change problems. The solar radiation potential in the northern and southern regions in Nigeria is given as 5.62 up to 7.01 and 3.54 up to 5.43 kWhm-2 respectively. Nigeria boasts abundant sunshine and investing in solar energy solutions like rooftop panels or community solar farms can significantly reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Solar power is not just environmentally friendly; it’s also reliable and cost-effective in the long run. Government incentives and microloans can make solar technology more accessible, empowering individual households and businesses to become energy independent. Practical solutions are needed to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy. A notable example is the “Nigeria Police Green Initiative” that was announced last year.

  1. Waste Not, Want Not: The challenge of having sanitary landfills in Nigeria is still a huge conversation when it comes to creating solutions for climate change problems. Most States in Nigeria still operate open dumping. Organic waste, when left to decompose in landfills, releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting kitchen scraps and yard waste transforms this waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer, perfect for boosting soil health in gardens and farms. This simple practice reduces reliance on chemical fertilizers, promotes a circular economy, and mitigates climate change.

Landfills can also be areas that can be transformed into thriving green spaces that would be fit for the whole surrounding community to enjoy. Some examples are the Mucking Marshes Landfill in England that was transformed to Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, Mount Trashmore Park in Virginia, USA, Qiaoyuan Park in China and Chambers Gully in Australia.

  1. Embrace Sustainable Water Management: Nigeria faces growing water scarcity. Inadequate access to water contributes to the water and sanitation crisis in Nigeria. According to the World Bank, approximately 70 million Nigerians do not have access to safe drinking water and 144 million do not have access to basic sanitation facilities. One solution to the water crisis that affects climate change in Nigeria is to adopt sustainable water management.

Rainwater harvesting systems can capture and store precious rainwater for later use. This captured water can be used for irrigation, washing, or even drinking after proper treatment. Promoting water-saving practices like fixing leaky faucets and taking shorter showers can further reduce pressure on freshwater resources.

  1. Empowering Communities, Building Together: The success of climate solutions hinges on community engagement. Investing in education and awareness programs empowers communities to understand the threat of climate change and take ownership of solutions. Supporting local NGOs and community leaders who are spearheading climate action initiatives is crucial.

These six solutions are just a starting point. By adopting these practices and fostering a spirit of innovation, Nigerian communities can build resilience, mitigate the effects of climate change, and create a more sustainable future for generations to come. The journey towards a climate-resilient Nigeria requires collaboration between government, businesses, and communities. With collective action and a commitment to these simple yet impactful solutions, Nigeria can not only weather the storm of climate change but emerge stronger and more sustainable than ever before.

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