Education, Innovation and Climate Smart Agriculture: a Multifaceted Approach to Environmental Sustainability in Nigeria

Educating young people on climate smart agriculture

Climate smart agriculture is one of several different initiatives interested parties in Nigeria have undertaken to mitigate climate change. The situation on the ground as regards to how much individuals in Nigeria are affected by climate change reveals how important it is that everybody appreciates and acts on this issue to develop a sustainable system that protects their environment.

Author Kumi Dzabala, 07.01.16

Climate smart agriculture is one of several different initiatives interested parties in Nigeria have undertaken to mitigate climate change. The situation on the ground as regards to how much individuals in Nigeria are affected by climate change reveals how important it is that everybody appreciates and acts on this issue to develop a sustainable system that protects their environment.

Deforestation is one of the country’s environmental problems and has reduced Nigeria’s forest area by 50 per cent in the past 15 years. This is of particular importance because in developing countries, an estimated 1 billion rural poor depend at least partially on forests for their livelihoods. Nigeria is also dealing with environmental problems such as desertification, flooding, erosion and oil spills in the Niger Delta.

The problem Bamidele Oni, founder of Green Impact International based in Abeokuta, sees in trying to deal with environmental issues is a fundamental one – lack of information that would change people’s thinking from this is normal to we can do something about this. “Some of the problems are poverty, poor infrastructure and poor implementation of policies. People would want to do more to contribute to the protection of the environment if structures [were provided] that would help to adapt to the changes so that switching over to alternatives wouldn’t make life difficult for them,” he says, but in the meantime, its back to the basics.

“The general belief is that nature takes care of itself. But in recent times, the obvious impact of eco-related problems on society has helped to create an appreciable level of awareness such that a gradual change has begun. People at the grassroots level are now seeing the need to care for and protect the environment to ensure the continuous availability of value attached to a balanced ecosystem.”

With the help of agencies and NGOs, there has been a growing shift in attitudes via the provision of information at the community level; targeting young people and individuals so that they can begin to understand and implement alternative measures that are easily adopted by society. This growing shift in attitudes has been key to developing approaches to environmental issues such as adopting climate-smart agricultural techniques, such as planting cover trees to improve soil-holding capacity, and exploring alternative sources of energy. 

“These institutions have provided the population with necessary information regarding various improvement techniques and strategies to adapt to the changing climate. A sustainable lifestyle is gradually becoming quite relevant as renewable energy takes a popular turn, weather adapting crop species are now being introduced to enhance food production, while the many tree planting campaigns have awakened societal acceptance.”

Creating Impact: Awards-based Recycling, Plastic Bottle Housing and more

A number of other innovative approaches to environmental issues have gathered steam in the country. Lagos-based social enterprise Wecyclers facilitates household recycling. The team cycles door-to-door to collect waste and, via an SMS-based platform, awards customers points for every kilogram of waste recycled. Points can then be redeemed for household amenities, food items or even mobile phone recharges thus providing direct value to people for the waste being recycled.

In an effort to resolve Nigeria’s housing crisis, a project that turns used plastic bottles into building materials has taken flight, run by Kaduna-based NGO Development Association for Renewable Energies (DARE), with help from London-based NGO Africa Community Trust. The bottles are filled with sand and packed together using mud and cement. Using this technique, affordable houses that are bulletproof, fireproof and earthquake resistant have been constructed. Each unit is designed to be carbon neutral and powered by solar energy and biogas.

Additionally there has been gradual awareness building about the benefits of opting for renewable sources of energy as opposed to fossil fuels. The Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo in will take place for the sixth time this year, which annually brings together local and international experts to discuss the country’s clean energy prospects.

A Green Education

The inclusion of youth is deliberate and many awareness campaigns have targeted them directly. “This is the approach Green Impact International has been adopting in reaching out to the public on eco-smart orientation and climate change. Currently the organisation has embarked on an outreach project focused on training young secondary school students on eco-values. The project is envisaged to reach 50 schools and a population of 1025 students and [looks to establish dedicated] green spaces within the schools. The objective is to make these young ones focal points of change within their schools and respective homes while setting a pace of difference in their choices and lifestyles.”

There are still a number of problems to face in ensuring a change at the grassroots level, but the continuous moves on the side of concerned bodies (both private and public) would make tangible impact if maintained and sustained. In a country like Nigeria where resources can be hard to find, including youth in the movement to spread awareness and insight that will help mitigate climate change at the individual and community level is a sure way of ensuring the sustainability of individual efforts in mitigating climate change.

By spreading knowledge and know-how that addresses the triple threat of climate change mitigation, food production sustainability and improving agricultural development, the communities are involved in a holistic practice to ensure their future.

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