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DROUGHT, DESERTIFICATION AND THE NIGERIAN ENVIRONMENT: A REVIEW
Drought and desertification are twin global environmental problems. Nigeria is faced with rapid desert encroachment affecting fifteen northernmost states from moderate to severe rate. Out of the 909,890 km2 of the country’s land area, about 580,841 km2 accounting for 63.83% of total land is impinge on by desertification. Climatic variability and anthropogenic activities such as deforestation, extensive cultivation, overgrazing, cultivation of marginal land, bush burning, fuel wood extraction, faulty irrigation system and urbanization are major causes of desertification. Drought and desertification impact directly or indirectly on all aspects of human life and the environment including the ecological, health, geo-chemical, hydrological and socio-economic facets. Despite several efforts by the government to end desertification, the problem still persist due to the gap between the formation of policy and strategies of combating drought and desertification. Drought and desertification can be remedied through integrated approaches such as awareness programmes, protection of marginal lands, tree planting, sustainable agricultural practices and use of alternative energy source.
Key words: Drought, desertification, Northern Nigeria, dryland, environment.