As desertification continues to bite harder across the northern parts of Nigeria, and as the world just recently marked the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, residents of Yobe State, especially those at the northern fringes have expressed concerns over increase in the level of rolling sands as a result of desert encroachment.
Yobe State has been among the worst hit states to be affected by desert encroachment with nine local government areas of Yunusari, Tarmuwa, Yusufari, Geidam, Bade, Nguru, Karasuwa, Machina and Barsari literally overrun by the phenomenon.
The residents of the affected areas who spoke to me said the situation is increasingly becoming a problem that could have adverse effects on their lives especially this year.
A resident of Machina, Alhaji Mohammed Bukar, said the level of dust witnessed during commencement of the rainy season across his area superseded what they have seen in years.
“I am in my 60s now, but I can tell you that increase in rolling sands with a lot of dust has been different this year.
“Look, I have noticed that even our planted seeds that usually spend three, four days to germinate has been affected with poor yields.”
Alhaji Audu of Geidam local government also notes that presently, places like, Yalemeri, Kirye Zuriye, Bature Wango, Abbari among others in Yobe, have all been overrun by desertification with intense sandstorm this year.
“I was in Kanamma, the headquarters of Yunusari local government area, last week and one can see the increase of sandstorms by the sand dunes.”
Kolo Modu of Toshiya of Yusufari local government area said, the government, among other stakeholders, always underestimated effect of desertification on the affected areas.
“You see, to my own knowledge, both governments and all those organisations fighting desertification are not serious.
“You cannot sit down in Abuja or the state capital and get the exact gravity of a phenomenon like desert unless you live in the affected areas.”
The director Drought, Desertification and Climate Change of Yobe State Ministry of Environment, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, says the administration of Hon Mai Mala Buni is fully aware of the dangers posed by desertification.
Abubakar said the government has launched a climate change plan project where millions of trees were planted while new initiatives, such as land restoration projects among others will soon take-off.
“The official estimate on desert encroachment is 0.6km per annum but a conservative estimate shows much, much higher than this.
“Government in collaboration with development partners have distributed fuel efficiency products to people in the rural areas, while 800 gas cookers were distributed to people at urban centres across the 17 LGAs free of charge as a pilot all geared towards reducing over dependence on firewood.”