Droughts, floods and land conflicts continue to adversely affect more people in Nigeria than any other type of disaster. Yet these events are human-caused or made worse by human practices.
Pastoral droughts (defined as lack of sufficient forage due to the poor condition of the land) occur in most years in many grazing areas in the northern regions of Nigeria’s landscapes. As a result, boreholes and rivers are going dry, livestock are malnourished and more susceptible to disease, and in a genuine (meteorological) drought many animals perish.
In years when there are good rains, there is so little vegetation or litter accumulation on soil surfaces that most water runs off, creating floods that grow increasingly severe as the runoff moves down the catchment.
Livestock are commonly blamed for the destruction, and there is ample evidence that livestock management practices have led to the creation of bare ground and rapidly decreasing rainfall effectiveness – i.e., decreasing the amount that soaks into the soil and remains there for use by plants and soil organisms, and to refill boreholes and springs.
However, livestock properly managed, can be used to lay down plant litter, prepare the soil so that more plants can grow, and thereby reduce evaporation and runoff and improve rainfall effectiveness. Through Holistic Management and its planned grazing methodology, pastoral droughts can be eliminated and the severity and impact of any meteorological droughts that do occur can be reduced.
Although this methodology has never been practiced in West Africa, there is ample evidence to support this truth demonstrated and taught at the Africa Centre for Holistic Land Management, (ACHM,) at Dimbangombe Ranch and in the Hwange Communal Lands in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa.
A further problem is the continuing and escalating violence and loss of life brought about each year by the country-wide movements of nomadic herdsmen, people of the Fulani tribe, as they seek pasture for their animals. The ensuing clashes between villagers and herdsmen, the killing of cows and laborers, the revenge killing and destruction of whole villages, men, women and children, is no doubt one of the most serious problems facing the government of Nigeria today.
Fulani herdsmen, numbering more than 7 million in Nigeria and 20 million throughout West Africa, are known to travel hundreds of kilometers in search of pastures for their livestock. Unfortunately, global warming and desertification have accentuated this migration thereby putting them in constant conflict with their host communities.
In addition to the conflict and loss of life due to migration, the families of these nomadic herdsmen, their wives and children, have little or no access to healthcare or education.
Nigeria loses 2,300 children under the age of five and 145 women of child-bearing age EVERY SINGLE DAY.