EXPLAINER: Challenges of Climate Change in Nigeria, Uncertainty for the Future

By: Manasseh Mbachii

The Nigerian climate has been irregular over the years, alternating between periods of extremely dry or rainy seasons and seasons of drought and excess flooding, which affected agricultural activities and caused a loss of shelter. Economic sectors such as agriculture, fishing, and forestry are more predisposed to the adverse effects of climate change.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) disclosed that flood disasters in 2022 left 2.4 million persons displaced and 662 lives lost.

Overview of climate in Nigeria

Nigeria has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: wet and dry. These seasons have varying lengths of rainy and dry seasons, depending on the geographical location. For example, the southern part of Nigeria has a longer period of rainy season (March to November) than the northern part (May to September).

The dry season is prevalent in the north, coupled with high temperatures that may reach an average monthly value of 38 degrees Celsius, while the mean temperature in southern Nigeria hovers around 32–33 degrees Celsius. In the north, the harmattan wind, which is a dry and hot wind, blows longer than it does in southern Nigeria.

Causes Of Climate Change In Nigeria

Although natural hazards like volcanic eruptions contribute to climate change, scientists have now discovered that certain human activities are also responsible.

Environmental scientists associate climate change effects with the depletion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere. The ozone layer prevents the heat from the sun from reaching the earth at high intensity.

The ozone layer is depleted when certain gases are released into the atmosphere by humans and natural factors. These glasses are carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, chlorofluorocarbon, and similar.

These greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, where the heat from the sun is trapped on the earth’s surface. This gradually leads to excess heat, depending on the depletion level and quantity of the gases emitted over time.

Human activities

Emission of greenhouse gasses from vehicles: Some vehicles emit greenhouse gases such as sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide from their exhaust.

Burning of hydrocarbon products: This releases carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere.

Deforestation: This refers to cutting down trees, usually for agriculture. Trees form a protective barrier against the heat from the sun, and cutting them down affects this purpose.

Industrial emissions: Industrial activities and equipment produce greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere instead.

Climate Change Effects and Nigeria

Low crop yield: In Nigeria, crop production depends on location and climatic conditions. Crops that need rainfall to grow are abundant in the south, while those that don’t need rainfall grow more in the north.

Excess rain and drought associated with climate change affect the natural distribution of crops in Nigeria and reduce their production in large quantities to meet the population’s demand. For instance, climate change may cause stunted growth of crops grown in Northern Nigeria because these crops don’t thrive in soils flooded with water from excess rain. Likewise, some crops cultivated in southern Nigeria may wither during prolonged drought periods because these crops need rainfall to grow.

Food shortage: Food scarcity is a consequence of low crop yield, which is characterised by inferior quality and quantity of food crops because of harsh climate conditions. Therefore, food crops are poorly distributed to other geopolitical zones where they don’t grow.

For instance, tomatoes are produced in large quantities in the north, and if this declines due to unfavourable climatic conditions, other locations in Nigeria will experience reduced supply.

Reduced livestock production: Livestock animals like goats and cows feed on grass to grow. and their products, such as beef or milk, are affected when these animals don’t feed well. Irregular climatic conditions destroy the farmlands these animals graze on. Also, flooding promotes the growth of pests that attack these farm animals and further depreciates their overall commercial value.

Loss of income: Agriculture is one of the major contributors to the Nigerian economy and a source of income for some Nigerians. These individuals are either rural dwellers who are full-time farmers or urban dwellers who are part-time farmers. Climate change destroys farmlands and hinders income generation from agriculture and livestock farming at national and personal levels.

Public health crisis: Climate change increases the burden of diseases in Nigeria, especially malaria. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant waters, and they spread to cause malaria. Life-threatening malaria complications are common among all individuals, young and old. This can put a strain on areas such as public health and nursing.

Also, wildfires and dust storms occur during drought, and these environmental hazards cause respiratory illnesses in some individuals. Climate change increases the number of diseases and causes preventable deaths among Nigerians if left unchecked.

Decreased hydroelectric power supply: Nigeria generates a significant amount of power from its hydroelectric dam, Kainji Dam. Climate change causes unpredictable rainfall and drought patterns that reduce the water level in Kainji Dam and other smaller ones.

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Jairus Awo

Jairus Awo is a Nigeiran Muiltimedia public interest journalist. He believes in the power of the media as a catalyst to development and societal growth. You can tip him an idea on [email protected]

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