Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes Project (ACreSAL) is a World Bank institutionalised programme designed to reactivate semi-arid landscapes in Northern Nigeria, a deforesting region and desert-prone area South of the Sahara. The project taps its vast water resources for optimal utilisation and boosts the ecosystems of the region which comprises the 19 northern states and the FCT, Abuja,leadership report.

ACreSAL is targeting to resolve lingering issues around agriculture, environment and water resources with the objective of reclaiming one million hectares of degraded land in the north.

The project has the mandate to increase the adoption of sustainable landscape management practices in targeted watersheds in northern Nigeria and strengthen Nigeria’s long-term framework for integrated climate-resilient landscape management. The ACreSAL project is targeted in arid to semi-arid states located in the Sahel, Sudan Guinea Savanna and Southern Guinea Ecosystem, characterised by dry semi-arid conditions, low precipitation and sparse vegetative cover.

Nigeria’s northern region had since the early 1970s become prone to desertification with its encroachment at the rate of about 10 kilometres per decade. The land degradation is coupled with insufficient annual rainfall with resultant decrease in food production often leading to famine, as it was witnessed in 1973/74 that affected the northern fringes of the now states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Yobe and Borno.

Since the 1973 experience, drought has continued to reoccur after every ten years, devastating parts of the aforementioned states while the federal and state governments have been taking proactive measures to curtail the trend bedevilling the region. One of such measures was the introduction of tree planting programmes by the northern states as shelter-belts against desert encroachment, but most of them have over the years abandoned the practice.

The federal government under the immediate past Buhari administration vigorously pursued its Great Green Wall (GGW) programme being implemented in the country’s northern frontiers in a bid to forestall desert encroachment to the hinterlands.

The GGW was however lackadaisically being implemented by the federal government with its tempo gradually bogged or even partially abandoned by the government, as the programme seemed to have over the years not been receiving annual budgetary allocation, or may have incidentally been nipped in the bud.

It is now Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes Project (ACreSAL), a federal government/World Bank collaborated programme designed for the 19 northern states and the FCT that is to resuscitate one million hectares of degraded landscapes in the project participating states in the South of the Sahara.

The World Bank’s $700 million ACReSAL project being implemented in collaboration with the federal government and the 19 northern states and the FCT was recently officially launched in Bauchi by Governor Bala Mohammed, thus becoming the first among the participating states to unveil the project implementation. The occasion was also graced by representatives of other participating states.

The ACreSAL project is embarked on by the Federal Government to build community resilience as well as improve the sustainable productivity of its natural resources in the 19 northern states of Nigeria namely; Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Plateau, Adamawa, Taraba, Niger, Kwara and Kaduna. These northern states including the FCT are faced by rapid desert encroachment ranging from severe to moderate and marginal.

Other incentives of the project are the strengthening of the environment for integrated climate-resilient landscape management, fighting issues surrounding desertification, drought, landscapes degradation and deprivation at community levels as well as resuscitating the sectors of agriculture, environment and water resources.

The governor observed that Bauchi with its endowed natural resources and special ecosystems, game reserve, vast arable and irrigable lands, as well as water resources comprising 10 macro-watersheds, 46 micro-watersheds, seven major rivers, five lakes and ten wetlands, the state is optimistic that the ACReSAL project would go a long way in providing solutions to the state’s lingering ecological problems.

ACReSAL projects are believed to be in tandem with the present administration’s policy of prioritising the sectors of agriculture, environment and water resources, according to the state governor, who disclosed that the projects would be implemented in seven out of the 20 local government areas of the state.

It is the resolution of Bauchi State under the present administration to participate in the ACReSAL projects as an added effort towards tackling natural disasters and emergencies, while improving the lives of the people. It is also worthy to note that the Bauchi State government has within the past four years implemented a number of multi-sectoral initiatives, collaborating and leveraging technical and financial assistance from multi-national donors, federal MDAs, and bilateral donors to address the ecological challenges of the state.

Describing the ACReSAL project as a turning point in the state’s lingering environmental and climatic problems, the governor explained that the state’s interest in ACReSAL projects is immense as displayed in assiduously pursuing all the processes of providing the necessary requirements for participation in the projects.

The World Bank has already released $2 million to the state while the state has paid the counterpart funding in two instalments of N500 million each in 2022 and this year to commence implementation of the projects. It is gratifying that apart from the four hectares of plantations in form of shelter-belts and biological gardens executed by the Bauchi ACReSAL projects, a gigantic support in form of two game-viewing trucks, scientific research and conservation gadgets have been provided for the Yankari Resort and Safari in the state.

As for the Yankari Resort and Safari, the project has already trained staff on ways of discharging their responsibilities. A drone is also to be provided for the games’ reserve that could undertake supervision work of the over 1,300-square kilometre reserve, as well as the provision of other modern working equipment and materials such as communication gadgets and uniforms for the game ranchers, among others.

Task leader of the World Bank team, Dr Joy Agene Iganya has congratulated the Bauchi State government under the leadership of Governor Bala Mohammed for being the first to launch the implementation of the project among the 19 participating states. She also called on relevant stakeholders to help drive the implementation and ensure sustainability of the investment through waste management.

“Bauchi State is one of the key and good drivers of ACReSAL projects. We are happy that apart from the N500 million you released as the state’s counterpart funding, you have also provided vehicles to the state implementation committee unit for effective service delivery,” she said.

While interacting with women during the occasion, Dr Agene said that the project would provide livelihood support activities for them to be financially independent and to be able to send their children to school. She called on the women to grasp the opportunity for a better tomorrow.

ACReSAL’s national project coordinator, Dr Abdulhamid Umar commended the implementation of the ACReSAL project worth $700 million in the north to reclaim one million hectares of land degraded in the region within six years.

“The sum of $700 million is to be accessed by the 19 northern states and FCT for the purposes of fighting issues surrounding desertification, drought, land degradation and deprivation at the level of communities and the land that we live on, particularly in northern Nigeria,” Umar stated

According to the coordinator, the team has visited Bauchi State to assess and review the implementation strategies of the ACReSAL project that has started over a year ago in the state to observe the level of achievements and the areas that need improvements.

“That is why we chose Bauchi as one of the states to come over to see things for ourselves and I am happy to tell you that Bauchi falls under category B which are states that did not participate in the initial project but are leading the pack now,” Umar stressed.

He explained that the project is to run for six years at the end of which it is expected that things would have turned around positively and the communities would become better.

The national coordinator assured that the project would impact the lives of the people of the affected areas in the state positively as all degraded areas will be reclaimed.

The ACReSAL project will intervene in massive tree-planting, irrigation farming, agroforestry, green house farming, plant nursery development units, farm produce processing centres and integrated solar-powered borehole schemes across all the local government areas of the state.

Seven communities of state namely Gwaram, Kirfi, Gololo, Gwallagan Mayaka, Duguri, Suleiman Adamu and Yakubun Bauchi are beneficiaries of the first stage of the project implementation with huge interventions of civil works to include water-drainages and dams to avert effects of flooding and erosion.

The Emir of Katagum and patron of the project implementation team in Bauchi State, Alhaji Umar Farouk II, assured that they would do their best in ensuring its success, adding that “at the end of the six years of project implementation, there would be institutionalised arrangements to sustain the laudable project in which over three million Bauchi State indigenes would benefit.”

The perennial problem of desertification became obvious due to climate change, overwhelming human activities and climatic variation such as prolonged droughts and floods. The urgent and dire need to address this problem brought about the ACreSAL project by the government of Nigeria.

A delegation of the World Bank, Federal MDAs and FPMU had visited the district head of Galambi, Alh Shehu Adamu Kuma where the project’s national coordinator, Dr Abdulhamid Umar said that the proposed water project intervention is aimed at ameliorating the sufferings of people of the area and for easy access to potable water for both human and animal consumption.

He called on beneficiaries for necessary support for the successful implementation to achieve the set objectives. He called for total support of the people to ensure sustainability when the project is successfully implemented.

It was in appreciation for the visit that the district head turbanned both the bank’s team leader, Dr Joy Agene and the project national coordinator, Dr Abdulhamid Umar as Shugaban Matan Qasar Galambi and Sarkin Dajin Qasar Galambi respectively.

Governor Bala Mohammed had during the project’s official launch thanked the federal government and the World Bank for what he described as a timely and impactful programme designed to resuscitate the key sectors of environment, agriculture and water resources in the country.

The governor assured that Bauchi State is determined to make a difference as it has been doing in other projects supported by the World Bank, saying “As part of our initiatives to ease implementation of the ACReSAL project, we appointed an Emir (Umar Farouk II of Katagum Emirate) to serve as patron with the mandate of ensuring harmony between the project-benefiting communities.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here