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Climate Change And How It Affects Nigeria

Nigeria, a country full of steep inequalities. It is home to some of Africa’s richest people, including the continent’s richest man Aliko Dangote, CEO of Dangote Cement – Africa’s largest cement producer, and billionaire Mike Adenuga, a telecommunications and oil tycoon. However, two-thirds of the total population lives below the poverty line.

It is a major cultural influencer. Nigeria has the world’s second-largest film industry, commonly known as “Nollywood”. Many Nigerian musicians are successful worldwide.

What is Climate Change?

Climate is sometimes mistaken for the weather. But climate is different from the weather because it is measured over a long period of time, whereas weather can change from day to day, or from year to year. The climate of an area includes seasonal temperature and rainfall averages, and wind patterns. Different places have different climates. A desert, for example, is referred to as an arid climate because of little waterfalls, as rain or snow, during the year.

Climate change is the long-term alteration of temperature and typical weather patterns in a place. Climate change could refer to a particular location or the planet as a whole. Climate change may cause weather patterns to be less predictable. These unexpected weather patterns can make it difficult to maintain and grow crops in regions that rely on farming because expected temperature and rainfall levels can no longer be relied on. Climate change has also been connected with other damaging weather events such as more frequent and more intense hurricanes, floods, downpours, and winter storms.

How does this affect Nigeria?

Nigeria’s climate has been changing, evident in increases in temperature; variable rainfall; rise in sea level and flooding; drought and desertification; land degradation; more frequent extreme weather events; affected freshwater resources, and loss of biodiversity. The durations and intensities of rainfall have increased, producing large runoffs and flooding in many places in Nigeria.

Rainfall variation is projected to continue to increase. Precipitation in southern areas is expected to rise and rising sea levels are expected to exacerbate flooding and submersion of coastal lands. Droughts have also become a constant in Nigeria, and are expected to continue in Northern Nigeria, arising from a decline in precipitation and rise in temperature. Lake Chad and other lakes in the country are drying up and at risk of disappearing.

The temperature has risen significantly since the 1980s. Climate projections for the coming decades reveal a significant increase in temperature over all the ecological zones. This rapid review synthesizes evidence on the impact of climate change in Nigeria (geographic, sectoral, demographic, and security impacts) and responses to address it (i.e. climate change mitigation and adaptation, adaptive capacity, and capacity development).

There are a few comprehensive reports and papers that provide useful evidence and discussion of the various impacts of climate change throughout Nigeria. The vast majority of the literature that provides evidence of climate change impacts and responses, however, focuses on the agricultural sector and on individual farming communities in particular regions of the country. Discussion of other mitigation and adaptation measures in the literature often takes the form of recommendations, rather than examples of what has already been achieved.

This is likely due to the need for much greater implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures in Nigeria. In addition, while there is some discussion about necessary capacity building at the individual, group, and community level to engage in climate change responses, there is much less attention given to higher levels of capacity at the state and national level.

Some Practices to help in fighting against Climate change

Here are some Nature-based solutions to help fight climate change. (Nature-based solutions, or natural climate solutions, are practices adopted to enable the ecosystem to naturally remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere). This can be achieved by restoring, conserving, and better managing the ecosystem.

These practices include forestry practices, regenerative agriculture, restoration of coastal wetlands and marine ecosystems.

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For forestry practices, there is deforestation and afforestation where forests are either planted, replanted, or allowed to regrow naturally. They also have to do with improving forest management, protecting forests, and limiting deforestation. Forests help in addressing climate change by serving as carbon removal or sinks. They naturally absorb carbon from the atmosphere and isolate it inside trees (sequestration). This means that carbon sequestered in these trees does not get emitted into the atmosphere, thereby limiting the impact such carbon would have had in worsening global warming and climate change.

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There is also regenerative agriculture whereby lands are managed in a way that soils absorb and hold more carbon. It involves practices that build soil carbon, such as cover crop rotation, farming without tilling the ground (no-till farming), agroforestry (mixing tree planting and agricultural land use), and improved livestock management. Regenerative agriculture contributes to the reversal of global warming by increasing the capacity of the soil to capture carbon.

See more on regenerative agriculture here

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Restoration of coastal wetlands like mangroves is a natural climate solution that allows carbon to be stored in sediments and plants. Restoring and conserving such places as peatlands and coastal wetlands serves mainly to prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

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The ocean also has a role to play in offering ocean-based solutions. The practice of restoring and expanding marine ecosystems can help to tackle climate change. This can be achieved through practices that seek to restore seagrass meadows which can trap carbon around their roots, leaves, stems, and underwater sediments. Also, shellfish farming can also be adopted because research shows that the shell of shellfish absorbs carbon as it grows. 

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