The Minister of Environment, Mrs Laurentia Mallam, June 4, warned that about 32 million Nigerians living on the coastlines in the Niger Delta might be displaced due to rise in the sea level.
According to her, with an accelerated sea level rise of 0.5 metres, 35 percent of the Niger Delta land mass would be lost, adding that with accelerated sea level rise of 1.0 metres, 75 percent of the Niger Delta would be gone under water.
The minister said this in Abuja at the 2014 World Environment Day on the theme: ‘Raise your voice not the sea level.’
She said that cities such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri were sensitive to sea level rise and storm surge.
“Nigeria is endowed with low-laying coastline of about 853 km long. This coastline is very important to the economy of the country. It accounts for most of the country’s industrial establishments and energy infrastructure while major settlements such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri were located on the coast and therefore sensitive to sea level rise and storm surges.
“Studies have projected that with an accelerated sea level rise of 0.5 meters, 35 percent of the Niger Delta land mass will be lost, and with accelerated sea level rise of 1.0 meters, 75 percent of the Niger Delta will be gone under water.
“Given this scenario, it implies that nearly 32 million people (22.6 percent of the national population) who live along the coastal zone are at the risk of becoming environmental refugees. Such forced movement could result in social frictions arising from demands of land resources for economic activities by the refugees.
“Moreover, many fishing grounds will be adversely affected, thus threatening major livelihood of the rural dwellers along the Nigerian coast. This is because the mangrove swamps provide breeding grounds and refuge for many fish species and the intrusion of saline water due to sea level rise will have an undesirable consequence on fresh water resources of the affected areas,” Mallam said.
She further explained that the effect of climate change could cause food insecurity, and diseases among the vulnerable in the country.
“In Nigeria, the impacts of climate change are manifested by erosion and landslides in the east, drought, and desertification in the north, rising sea levels in the coastal areas and flooding across the nation.
“It is clear that the only choice for humanity is to take practical actions through reducing emissions, awareness creation, preparing for extreme events and adapting to the impacts of climate change. We need to plan for the changes that are expected to occur. We need to adjust our ecological, social, and economic systems and change the way we do things,” she noted.