PROBLEMS AND PROSPECT OF ENVIRONMENT ON WOMEN
Background of the Study
Globally, environmental problems remain topical in most developing countries. This is due to the realization of the need to protect and conserve the environment which the people depend on for existence. In Nigeria for instance, the rate of depletion of natural resources which is attributed to natural or anthropogenic factors necessitated the effort towards achieving environmental sustainability – a phenomenon which forms No. 7 of Nigeria’s Millennium Development Goals (National Planning Commission). According to Davidson (2005), the 1970s and 1980 represented an era in which protection, conservation, and preservation of the environment became an integral part of national and international politics. This was primarily due to the realization among nation states that there is a relationship between the state of a country’s environment and its socio-economic status. Furthermore, the awareness that environmental issues transcend national and territorial boundaries, and are thus not exclusive to particular regions led to discourses about global environmental issues, and the development of laws, policies, and initiatives at national and international levels (Adeyemo, 2006). Nigeria is a developing country that relies primarily on natural resources such as oil and arable land for its development, which emphasizes a strong relationship between the country’s environment and its economic development such that the mismanagement of its environment could impact its economic development (Davidson, 2005). Nigeria is plagued with many environmental problems of varying magnitude. Whilst the people living in the southern part of the country are being ravaged by flood and gully erosion, those in the north are contending with the menace of desertification and deforestation among others. However, in 2011, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) warned that Nigerians should ‘gird their loins’ for environmental disasters that year especially as the rainy season approached. Serious 14 havoc in the forms of heavy rainfall, heavy wind, floods and destruction of homes, especially the destruction of rooftops as a result of heavy winds were forecasted (Daily Trust Newspaper, 2011). In 2012, many states of the country were ravaged by flood causing serious damage to our environment including farmlands and ecosystems. According to a recent report of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, “Land degradation remains the greatest problem in Nigeria. The UN report further noted that, over 90% of the total land area of Nigeria is under severe sheet, rill and gully erosion with the severest, gully erosion, accounting for 80% of Nigeria’s total land area. Sheet erosion leads to impoverishment of the soil as nutrients are washed away, loss of livelihood as farmlands become wasteland thus increasing the menace of rural-urban migration, pollution and silting of available sources of drinking water (Emeka, 2010). Most parts of Nigeria experience one environmental problem or the other. Agulu community in Anambra State shares in these problems particularly in the area of gully erosion which covers an area of about 100 km2 and as stated by Egboka and Okpoko (1984) gullying started around 1850 and is expanding at 20-50m per year. The development of the gullies has caused extensive damage to the environment and has driven many people away from their homes and led to loss of farmlands, human lives and properties, especially buildings which are endangered as they collapse into gullies. The menace of gully erosion in Agulu-Nanka area of Anambra State has led to the declaration of that area as an ecological disaster zone by the Federal Government of Nigeria (Ajaero and Mozie, 2010).
Statement of the Problem
Environmental degradation which results in erosion, deforestation, global warming and climate change has become a serious source of concern for contemporary society, giving rise to efforts in the way of advocacies, conferences and awareness campaigns at different levels. It remains a major challenge and central in global discourse of sustainable development. From local to national and global news lines, the information that filters down to the world’s population is grim stories of environmental challenges and evidence that all is not well with the earth. Although forests make up about 10 percent of Nigeria’s entire territory, deforestation remains a major environmental challenge in Nigeria (FAO,2001), and human activities is the main driving force for deforestation in Nigeria. These activities include but are not limited to the clearing of forest for agricultural purposes, logging, extraction of wood for energy, and oil exploration activities. This is more, especially, in the southeastern part of the country where mangrove forests are abundant, deforestation occurs primarily due to the use of wood as a source of fuel. Rural women are often the gatherers of fuel wood and dependence on this fuel wood seems to be high among Ekiti women which raise some doubts as to whether these women are knowledgeable about the negative effect of deforestation on the environment.
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