Public Health

Climate change has numerous implications for public health. Its negative impact on food, water, and clean air access increases the severity or frequency of health problems already exacerbated by climate or weather variables and generates new problems in regions where they have never been before. It also contributes to the spread of infectious diseases and other vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever, which are currently ravaging Africa (WHO, 2009). This is based on the reality that weather events and climate change have a significant impact on mosquitoes, ticks, disease-carrying rodents, and the environment as a whole (McMichael et al., 2011). In addition, climate change and weather have an impact on parasitic worms’ survival and distribution, which has implications for health issues (roundworm, tapeworm, guinea worm) infestations which cause a variety of infections and diseases in human hosts. As a result, there is little doubt that there are real and potential health implications of climate change around the world to the astounding evidence presented (Short et al., 2017).

In Africa, climate change will hurt water resources by increasing the occurrence of floods and droughts, causing severe rainfall decline, particularly in the Southern Africa region and causing extreme and longer heat periods, particularly in tropical West Africa. In agricultural production, climate change increases the likelihood of severe food production decline particularly cereals, and food shortages with implications for health across various groups (Sercedeczny et al., 2017).

According to Pham-Duc et al., (2020), the most pressing evidence of climate change in Nigeria is a drastic increase in temperature, desertification and drought (common in the north), inconsistent rainfall, flooding, and rising sea levels (common in the south), that has destroyed homes and fishing villages, pushing an increasing number of families deeper into poverty. Lake Chad, which supplies water to over 50 million people in Nigeria and other regions of West Africa for agriculture, biodiversity preservation, and household activities, has been declining. This adds to growing desertification and a worsening water deficit, as there is less water available for agriculture and WASH activities. Furthermore, occurrences of cerebrospinal meningitis have been observed to be positively related to the northern winter season’s highest maximum temperature (Osuafor and Nnorom, 2014). Meningitis incidence in Northwest Nigeria may potentially arise in the future, according to studies, owing to rising temperatures. Climate change could likely increase cases by 32–38 per cent in 2020–35 and 43–91 per cent in 2060–75 during the peak of the season.

People’s health is influenced by the health of the environment in which they dwell. The potential hazards of global warming and climate change provide the world with an opportunity to make healthier choices for ourselves and our environment. The amount and urgency with which revolutionary action is taken today to reduce emissions and avoid severe temperature thresholds and perhaps irreversible tipping points will increasingly decide the long-term effects of climate change.

Nigeria already has a variety of laws and strategic initiatives in place that, if properly implemented, can serve as climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. The Department of Climate Change (DCC) of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment is in charge of carrying out the convention and protocol activities. They also coordinate the activities of an inter-ministerial committee comprised of representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, and Water Resources, the Nigerian Energy Commission, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and academia. The National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change in Nigeria (2011), as well as the Nigeria Climate Change Policy Response and Strategy, record the early response to the effects of climate change (2012). Furthermore, in November 2021, Nigeria passed the Climate Change Bill, which includes net-zero carbon emission targets for the years 2050 to 2070. As part of a National Climate Change Action Plan that must be adopted by the Federal Executive Council, the law includes provisions for establishing a five-year carbon budget, carbon budgets will be established by the Federal Ministry of the Environment, with the bill’s National Council on Climate Change overseeing implementation.

Nigeria enacted its Short-Term Economic Sustainability Plan in response to COVID-19, which includes positive climate actions such as the installation of solar electricity on 5 million houses; sadly this also includes a national gas expansion program. Similarly, Nigeria’s medium-term national development plan aims to support and stimulate MSMEs in non-oil sectors, shifting the country’s economy away from crude oil, which is a major polluter. Development partners have also aided the country’s fight against climate change; for example, the United States Agency for International Development’s Power Africa Initiative supports the provision of greener energy. The programme was instrumental in the development of the $330 million Solar Power Naija Programme, which would give concessionary financing to private sector developers to deploy five million new solar connections by 2023. The initiative also aids the government’s adaptation strategies by supplying drought-tolerant seedlings and early maturing seed varieties, as well as better management methods and technology that boost resilience to climate change shocks.

Nigeria has made minimal progress in the fight against climate change, as seen by the Nigeria Nationally Determined Contributions (NNDC) report from 2021, which reported a considerable increase in total emissions from 2017 to 2018. The energy sector accounts for 60% of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, agriculture accounts for 15.7 per cent, and forestry and other land use accounts for 9.3 per cent. The obstacles to Nigeria’s climate change plans are numerous. Higher oil and gas output, as well as enhanced agricultural productivity through the use of agrochemicals, are advocated in the country’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. These intentions, however, violate the Paris Agreement, which calls for countries to refrain from producing and consuming fossil fuel resources and other pollutants that contribute to climate change. Although the country has set an ambitious renewable energy target for 2030, but implementation has been tardy, and it is on track to miss it. Support for solar household systems was included in its pandemic recovery package, but much more action is needed here. Nigeria’s energy grid is one of the least reliable in the world, and its inhabitants spend billions on generators each year. If Nigeria is to achieve its desired goal in the fight against climate change, it must reduce the gap in current policies and Nigeria’s NDC targets. This can be achieved by ramping up its renewable energy target and also halting the expansion of natural gas.

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