A United Nations official said on Monday that degradation and competition over access to land and water may cause war in Nigeria.
“Land restoration is about security, reducing clashes between farmers and herdsmen over access to land and water, which may trigger the Third World War”, Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ankara, Turkey.
“More lives have been claimed in conflicts over access to land and water than Boko Haram.
“Every day, you have more conflicts between people that are competing for access to land and water.
“The root cause of the competition is access to natural resources,” the UN official told NAN on the sidelines of 2019 World Day to Combat Desertification in the Turkish capital.
World Day to Combat Desertification is celebrated every year globally on 17 June to promote good land stewardship for the benefit of present and future generations.
The UNCCD head said that growing population with growing demand on resources, coupled with Climate Change and reduction of available land resources, were root causes of most of the bloody conflicts.
“So, the tipping point was reached long time ago; and most of the time this is also combined with bad governance at national levels,” Thiaw said.
He said that land restoration could not be left in the hands of governments alone, and called for a review of the land tenure system in order to mobilise private business investment into the programme.
“This means there should be some concession for the business sector to participate in land restoration.
“It means that if a business restores a land, it gets concession on the land for 50 years or more so that the land remains restored rather than leave it barren.
“Otherwise, why would I invest in land restoration if I had no right on that land; if the land continues to belong to someone else, I won’t invest in it.
“Restoring land will reduce forced migration and keep people on the ground to generate their own incomes and live their own lives,” he said.
The UN official said that forced migration was the worst that could happen to countries where people were departing from.
“Most times, countries of destination see it as a problem, but countries they are departing from have a bigger problem because people involved in forced migration are educated and a big loss to their national economies,” he said.
Thiaw also said that although planting of trees was important and symbolic in land restoration, it was not the only solution to the problem.
“You can plant billions of trees, but unless you have good sensitisation, the trees will not grow or they clear off again.”