NCEHR Practice Update

Open Your Heart

“Besides, the world has witnessed ecosocial and health systemic issues overtly and covertly creating environmental pandemics, such as climate emergencies, COVID-19 infections, ethnoracial crisis and injustices, with potentials that these events may not abate soon; Nigeria is yet to materialize its interventional plans to restore her degrading ecosystem”.

*By Joe-Ikechebelu Ngozi, Isielu Ruphina, Akanwa Angela, Eleje George & Obiorah Josephine.

Although belated, we join the world to celebrate the World Environment Day themed Ecosystem Restoration and formally marking the declaration and launch of UN decade from 2021 to 2030 on ecosystem restoration to urgently prevent, halt, and reverse the global activity degrading the environment. With this declaration, governments around the world are making efforts to mitigate the effects of our changing climate and its resultant degradation on the ecosystem. Nigeria’s commitment does not resonate to the commitments and ratifications of the several international agreements and protocols bordering on ecosystem restoration. Also, the right positive responsibilities and political willpower of multilevel leaders in public and private structures are required to restore natural environmental resources in affected communities. Besides, the world has witnessed ecosocial and health systemic issues overtly and covertly creating environmental pandemics, such as climate emergencies, COVID-19 infections, ethnoracial crisis and injustices, with potentials that these events may not abate soon; Nigeria is yet to materialize its interventional plans to restore her degrading ecosystem.
Nigeria is challenged by lots of harmful human practices affecting the ecosystem negatively. For example, with an increasing population and consequent development challenges, such as urbanization comes with loss of forest reserve from tree felling either as source for brown fuel energy or to fill the gap of chronic housing inequalities, as well as poor waste management system from dumping of wastes in water drainages worsening flooding issues. Also, the Oil-rich Niger Delta in Nigeria has been faced with complex environmental problems from oil explorations leading to loss of farms lands, oil spills, and death of biodiversity, in addition to environmental pollution from gas flaring. The Northern part of Nigeria is challenged with desertification, droughts, and drying of water bodies, such as the Lake Chad from intense climate variation heightening religious insurgency and worsening food systems and security. Besides, incessant sand mining and intense rains with release of dams from neighboring countries, such as Cameroon has also left its impacts from flooding and gully erosion in Anambra state in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria.

Being domiciled in Anambra State, NCEHR is a partnership initiative equitably involving diverse stakeholders of communities as knowledge bearers, the academy, and affected participants and is aware of radical environmental behaviours in our communities and state. Who does not know about the incessant littering of waste, and the slow rate of reduce of the offensive litters on the street? Who is not aware of the annual flooding events in Anambra North communities and its impact on marginalized groups, such as women, pregnant women, children, disabled people, and non- immune population? Who is not aware of the rural drift of young women and men to urban areas and its impact on farming activities and food security? We are aware of the effect of tree cuttings in the state, their impacts on the well-being of arboreal animals and the health and well-being of human. And every person domiciled within the state has been experiencing the devastating period of heat waves.
As a community-academic partnership linking two universities and other stakeholders across various disciplines, NCEHR also equitably recognizes the importance of the global call to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals when the process of restoring the ecosystem is initiated via investments in the One Health concept. One health is a global public health good that intercepts and integrates the health of humans, animals, and the environment, because the environment is inextricably intertwined with health of the living, and when this concept is optimized can reduce social and health inequitable outcomes, such as zoonotic disease outbreaks and food insecurity. More than three quarters of new human infectious diseases are linked to animals, which inescapably spread to humans resulting to epidemics. To restore and sustain our environments, intentional participatory actions to revive carbon reservoirs through deliberate activities, such as replanting, reforesting with indigenous plants and tree species, handling waste, activating green spaces, as well as managing flood can help impact ecosocial and structural societal benefits.

As such, we look for partners within Anambra and beyond to ally with us on interventional initiatives that will (re)focus on ecosystem restoration activities and translate our ecorestoration outcomes as knowledge with participating stakeholders.

*Contributors to this work are drawn from one of the Community, Umolum in Anambra North Local Government area, the academy (Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University and Nnamdi Azikiwe University), and a private organization in Anambra State.