EO Clinic support requested by: World Bank Group (WBG) Agriculture and Food Global Practice, West Africa Sustainable Development Department (SAWA4)
Requesting activity: Nigeria – Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACRESAL)
Requesting activity type: Grant
EO Clinic relevant Thematic Groups: TG1 (Agriculture), TG10 (Water Resources Management)
Work Order number: EOC0019
Work Order status: Completed
Work Order start: 2021 Jun 17
Work Order end: 2021 Nov 12
“The World Bank is currently preparing an investment project together with the Government of Nigeria, with the objective to increase the adoption of climate resilient landscape management practices in target-ed arid/semi-arid watersheds in central-north Nigeria. The multi-sector operation covering environment, agriculture and water will have three key components: 1. Desertification Control and Landscape Management; 2. Community Resilience and 3. Institutional Strengthening.
For the preparation of the project and prioritisation of interventions, the Bank team are seeking satellite EO support to assess the current level of land degradation and water scarcity in the project area. This current situation, to be used as a baseline, will be used to select the states where the project will be implemented. During the implementation phase, the team is equally interested in using EO to monitor project achievements, as well as in capacity building with key stakeholders in Nigeria (Ministries of Environment, Agriculture, and Water, and the Nigerian Space Agency).
The project would benefit from a variety of geoinformation datasets related to land use, land cover, land degradation, water scarcity or drought, biophysical (related to suitability for water retention and solar irrigation) and agriculture performance. Overall, however, the primary aim of the present EO Clinic support is to better understand the extent and severity of land degradation and desertification in central-north Nigeria.
The existing literature on the subject is usually equivocal. For example, in a 1999 national report on the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), it is stated:
“The extent and severity of desertification in Nigeria has not been fully established neither the rate of its progression properly documented. Nevertheless, it is estimated that the country is currently losing about 351,000 hectares of its landmass to desert conditions annually, and such conditions are estimated to be advancing southwards at the rate of about 0.6 km per year.”
Another uncertainty is related to the definition of deserts, which appears challenging, not less because often it is considered an irreversible process. Yet few processes are really irreversible . For instance, in a recent Nature article  it was estimated that part of the Sahara desert in Mauritania has around 1.8 billion trees, or 13.4 trees per hectare. This is quite different from what one imagines as a “desert”. Despite these challenges of defining desert and degraded land, the Bank team would like to have a better estimate for the historical trends of land degradation and/or desertification, for the main purpose of ranking states according to their needs and land degradation risks.