By Tina Armstrong
Increasing scarce natural resources is said to be responsible for wars and conflicts in countries like Somalia, Eriteria, Rwanda, Haiti, Darfur, Jordan, Israel and in many communities around the world. According to a United Nation Environment Programme UNEP, forty percent of intra-state conflicts are due to control over natural resources. A World Bank report further stated that seventy percent of the worlds poor live in rural communities, and depend on agriculture both for food and livelihood.
Nigeria is also faced with various environmental challenges like forest degradation, marine and fresh water depletion, pressure on available land spaces amongst other and has become crises prone. The reduction in size of water bodies like the Lake Chad which has reduced to one-fifth of it’s original size since in the 1960’s could become be a source of conflict among neighboring countries. During the eleventh Chief S.L. Edu memorial lecture held at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs in Lagos, the President of the Nigeria Conservation Foundation NCF Chief Philip Asiodu pleaded with the Federal Government to incorporate environmental studies into the curriculum of schools in the country to shape the minds of children and youths to be responsible for their environment.
The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nation Ambassador Professor Joy Ogwu who was the guest speaker while delivering a lecture on the linkage between environment and security, called for re-evaluation of what poses a security challenge to the country. She explained that conflict and war can be associated with quest for control of available natural resources like available arable land, shrinking water bodies, drought. She said the rate of global poverty and hunger can be reduced if more priority is given to small and subsistence farmers who support national growth through food production. Ogwu recommended a collaboration between government agency to address security challenges, active reclamation of degraded land and protection of available resources, facilitating local resilience to ensure rural and sustainable development. The Nigeria Conservation has in the last seven years supported academic research and development in the area of science and sustainable development by giving grants to doctoral students. Fourteen students have so far benefited from the grants.