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Building a climate change resilience against rising poverty in Nigeria

Climate change is attracting huge global attention among experts, with government at all levels swiftly committing to reducing human activities’ harmful impact on the natural environment.

Global estimates project that 100 million people will fall below the poverty line, and a further 200 million people will be displaced by climate change impact by 2030. Reducing these impacts on Africa’s most populated countries and the biggest economy is a concern, especially for a country dubbed to be the world poverty capital of the world. There is a need to intensify local efforts and assistance to build a strong resistance to protect the most vulnerable groups in the society, mostly the internally displaced persons, extremely poor Nigerians, those living with disability, women and children against climate change-related activities, social, environmental, economic shocks and natural disasters that is creditably believe will occur sooner than later. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have pledged over $3 billion in funds to tackle climate change challenges in over 140 countries of the world, including Nigeria.

A huge majority of the Nigerian population are farmers who are engaged in agricultural activities for daily survival. There is great fear that erosion, drought, irregular rainfall, acidic rain, low crop yield, greater attack from pests and other climate change impacts could affect the income-generating ability of these farmers who depend on agriculture as their livelihood. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has adopted a Climate Risk Finance Programme to assist vulnerable groups beforehand to prepare for doomsday. Several countries within and outside Africa have been benefiting from these funding programmes. In addition, there is a climate insurance programme in place to assist farmers with cash transfers before and after climate change disasters, provision of food and water security subsidies, and adoption of a weather index for farmers, to ensure an effective settlement for climate-affected communities and employment generation for climate-resilient infrastructure. These are integrating and sustainable solutions to build a stronger resilience against climate change challenges.

The Paris Agreement and the recent COP26 convergence of world leaders are pointers to global solidarity against climate change’s negative impacts. While there is a global commitment against climate change, individual countries have various degrees of seriousness and approach to it, especially when it requires a huge financial commitment and political will to address it. The government at all levels in Nigeria must show genuine commitment to climate change issues, particularly when it threatens to increase the number of Nigerians living below the poverty line. Local engagement with farmers and vulnerable groups should be a necessary action to ensure these groups are guided against climate change’s impact on a national, state and local level. There is a need to ensure the scaling up of extremely poor Nigerians on climate insurance to guarantee their social protection now and in the future. The government at the national and sub-national levels must engage with partner institutions and provide support for policies and action plans to address these impending dangers of climate change.

Climate change challenges pose a big threat to actualising the seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The United Nations and its partner agencies are creating climate change resilient and poverty reduction strategies and pro-poor and inclusive social and economic investment to address and plunge the gap given what is to come. Nigeria must take the lead among a committee of nations as the world poverty capital to ensure the standard of living of her citizens is not affected by climate change. The government must commit a considerable amount of funding to build a climate change resilience against poverty, hunger, starvation and food insecurity in Nigeria.

Alikor Victor is a development economist & policy analyst at the Nextier Group

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