A two-day national workshop on the African Initiative for Combating Desertification (AI-CD) was held, hosted by the Federal Ministry of Environment (FME) of the Republic of Nigeria on November 25 and 26, 2021 at Bolingo Hotel, Abuja.
It was organised by the Department of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought Management (DLD&DM) of the FME, in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the theme “Facilitating Development of Natural Resources in the Drylands of Nigeria Through Public-Private Partnerships and Access to Research Findings.”
This second AI-CD Country Workshop in Nigeria was attended by 61 participants comprised of federal ministries and agencies, universities and research institutes, civil society organisations (CSOs), donor agencies, diplomatic corps, and private sector.
The workshop objectives were as follows:
- Promoting private sector involvement in the development and management of dryland natural resources;
- Stimulating commitment of relevant funding agencies for the implementation of national initiatives for sustainable management of the drylands through the establishment of efficient partnerships;
- Improving information sharing and cooperation among stakeholders through enhanced collaboration;
- Identifying interested stakeholders and creating awareness on the value and benefits of natural resources in the drylands;
- Promoting innovative mechanisms for private sector financing of dryland development;
- Improving access to research findings by stakeholders/policymakers.
Highlights of DAY 1
The welcome address was delivered by the Permanent Secretary, represented by the Director of DLD&DM of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Ms. Mabel Okiriguo Emmanuel. After the introductory words and prayers led by the moderator, the floor was given to the officials to deliver their speeches. Mr. Taigo SASAKI, the Senior Representative of the JICA Nigeria Office, gave his message as the AI-CD co-organiser. Representatives of Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), African Development Bank (AfDB), and Foundation for Conservation of Nigerian Rivers (FCNR) delivered goodwill messages. Finally, the Honorable Minister of Environment, represented by the Director of DLD&DM, gave a key note address, and declared that the workshop was finally open.
Right after the opening ceremony, the group photo was taken followed by a tea break. Then, the first presentation “Enhancing Collaboration Between Institutions Engaged in Combating Desertification Including Research Institute” was given by Ms. Gloria Ujor. The second presentation “The Promotion of Private Sector Involvement and Investment in the Development of Dryland Natural Resources” was delivered by Mr. Christopher Ameh. After each presentation, the participants actively asked their questions and had discussions with the presenters.
Day 1 ended by the formation of workgroups led by the Group Secretary, and a closing remark from the Moderator.
Highlights of DAY 2
The second day started with the recapitulation of Day 1 activities by the participants, followed by workgroup discussion. For the group discussions, the participants were divided into three to brainstorm on the following topics:
Group 1: Examples of investments towards the development of drylands and how the private sector can be encouraged to improve its investment efforts
Group 2: Emerging issues on collaboration and ways to address them
Group 3: Constraints in using research results for desertification control, and means to overcome them
After the discussions, the groups presented their respective reports in plenary. Comments to the reports were given by the Day 1 presenters, Ms. Gloria Ujor and Mr. Christopher Ameh, followed by further discussions among participants. The presentation of a communiqué was given by the Group Secretary. Finally, the closing remark for the workshop was delivered by the AI-CD Focal Point of Nigeria.
In this workshop, fourteen (14) key findings were cited by the participants, namely:
- The key institution in Nigeria, the Department of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought Management (DLD&DM) of the Federal Ministry of Environment (FME), should continue its efforts in identifying other institutions that support desertification control.
- Efforts must be made also to identify key NGOs, including women’s groups.
- Periodic reporting on collaboration amongst the institutions addressing desertification control is important to assess the progress being made.
- The first step in the collaboration should be between key organizations within the FME, i. e., DLD&DM and the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW). These are to ‘drag’ other relevant institutions to join the collaboration.
- The AI-CD workshop noted the importance of engaging in the type of collaboration that will be effective in combating desertification amongst institutions.
- Where possible, the collaboration should be measured, verified and reported for making progress.
- There is a strong call for research institutes to provide advice on means to improve the combat against desertification based on research results.
- Research to generate accurate scientific data and information on desertification should be strengthened.
- More efforts are needed to streamline the activities of the institutions that contribute in combating desertification in Nigeria to ensure that they bring the right approach towards collaboration.
- Suggestions were given to improve private sector’s involvement and investments in the management of drylands in Nigeria, and these include tax holiday, duty-free on imported goods, BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) scheme, and low-interest loan and moratorium.
- While enhancing collaboration, attention should be given to the maintenance of a secured database to prevent hacking.
- There is a strong call also to development partners (e.g., JICA) to continue their support to collaborative efforts in combating desertification.
- Government should increase the funding for research.
- Capacity building of research institutes and researchers is needed, to be supported by the government and the private sector.