US embassy cable - 01ABUJA2445


Identifier: 01ABUJA2445
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA2445 at
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-09-25 15:07:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: STATE 140035 
1.  In response to Reftel information request, the USG does 
not currently have an environmental program in Nigeria, 
although USD 2 million has now been identified for an 
environmental program.  USAID/Nigeria ha prepared a scope of 
work for an overall assessment of the environment in Nigeria. 
 The assessment team, comprised of USAID/Global officers and 
private consultants, will likely be on the ground in November 
2001 with the report completed by February 2002.  The Mission 
believes that this assessment will identify many 
opportunities for U.S. assistance to Nigeria in confronting 
environmental problems.  Per reftel,s requests, the 
Mission,s preliminary thoughts on priority areas for 
environmental assistance are described here. 
2. Other international donors active in the environment in 
Nigeria include the European Union, World Bank, UNDP, NORAD 
and DFID.  There are also numerous local Non-Government 
Organizations predominantly active in oil pollution 
mitigation in the Niger Delta. 
Oil Pollution 
3. Nigeria derives 90 percent of its foreign exchange 
earnings and 80 percent of government revenues from oil 
exports.  The dominance of oil production in the economy has 
lessened the focus on environmental degradation resulting 
from oil sector activities.  But this degradation is great. 
Oil spills occur almost weekly in the Delta, caused primarily 
by smugglers and local communities who break into the 
pipeline network to steal oil.  Moreover, the dredging of 
canals to transport oil on barges to the Atlantic has 
expanded the reach of oil spills, widening their area of 
effect.  These canals have also allowed salt water from the 
Atlantic to encroach inland, destroying freshwater animal and 
plant life.  The impact of oil sector activities on coastal 
areas is severe. 
4. The GON allocated N1.7 billion (roughly USD 14 million) in 
both recurrent and capital expenditures to the Federal 
Ministry of Environment in FY2001.  This allocation 
represents only .2 percent of the total federal budget of 
N894 billion (roughly USD 7.5 billion).  However, it appears 
that the GON is increasing its focus on environmental 
degradation, particularly in the area of oil pollution.  The 
National Assembly, with support from the Federal Ministries 
of Environment, Health, and Transport, held an Oil Pollution 
Management Conference in August to raise the awareness of 
environmental problems in the Niger Delta and to harmonize 
the nation,s laws and regulations on oil pollution and its 
5. The USG is also sponsoring several ad hoc activities 
targeting specific energy/oil sector environmental problems. 
First, USG agencies have identified USD 500,000 to be 
targeted for pipeline safety and security.  Other activities 
planned on an ad hoc basis include a Workshop on Removing 
Lead from Gasoline for sometime this fall and an Oil Spill 
Contingency Planning Workshop sponsored by the DOE/USAID in 
January 2002. 
6.  Another important oil-related issue is gas flaring, which 
has contributed to acid rain and has had tremendous negative 
impacts on agriculture and health in the Niger Delta.  The 
Canadian mission in Nigeria is providing assistance to the 
GON that helped lead the government to the decision to 
eradicate gas flaring by 2008.  Three Liquified Natural Gas 
(LNG) projects have been initiated in the South to utilize 
flared gas as well as the West Africa Gas Pipeline (WAGP) 
Renewable Energy 
7. Solar and hydroelectric power are two potential renewable 
energy sources in Nigeria.  Currently, renewable energies are 
primarily used for water pumps and irrigation, but their uses 
could be even more widespread.  Some of the existing hydro 
facilities are currently undergoing repair, and there are a 
number of additional sites and existing dams that have been 
surveyed as possible future hydro-electric power projects, 
but there are no immediate plans for development.  Through 
the Department of Energy and USAID, the U.S. Mission in 
Nigeria has a resident energy advisor and a renewable energy 
program.  This program aims to identify and remove existing 
obstacles to creating a commercially viable renewable energy 
industry in Nigeria.  Two workshops on renewable energy are 
taking place in 2001 (one occurred in March and the other in 
October), and a pilot solar power project will be initiated 
in Jigawa State.  The focus of the November workshop will be 
to draft a strategy for developing a commercially viable 
renewable energy industry in Nigeria.  There are currently 37 
companies selling solar PV equipment in Nigeria, but there 
are at present no fabricators or manufacturers of solar 
equipment in the country.  The workshop will identify 
barriers to the commercialization of renewable energy, such 
as the high tariffs on PV panels and other renewable energy 
components and subsidized fuel and energy prices. 
Climate Change and Desertification 
8. While not fully quantified, desertification is one of the 
most pressing environmental problems in Nigeria.  It is 
estimated that the country is losing approximately 351,000 
hectares of landmass to desert conditions annually. 
Population pressure, compounded by the influx of migrants 
from neighboring countries, and the grazing of live stock and 
razing of all available wood is increasing the rate of land 
loss.  Few alternative energy supplies are available and no 
programs exist to provide these marginal populations with 
power or gas for cooking.  Nigeria does have a few 
federally-funded research centers that have developed energy 
efficient cook stoves and solar powered ovens, but these new 
technologies have not been distributed or effectively 
marketed in the North.  Desertification in the north is also 
aggravated by forest depletion in the middle and southern 
regions of the country.  A long tradition of paper-making and 
furniture building in these areas has led to a serious 
depletion of forested areas.  Nigeria is one of 50 
participating countries within the UNFCC identifying sources 
of greenhouse gasses and encouraging transfers of clean 
technologies to developing countries.  A three day National 
Workshop on the Clean Development Mechanism was held in Abuja 
during the week of September 10-14. 
Urban Areas and Waste Management 
9. Urban growth in Lagos is expected to lead to an 
environmental disaster within the next 5-10 years. 
Exponential population growth and the fact that much of 
Lagos, located on islands, is sinking into the Atlantic 
because of erosion and rising waters will need to be 
10. Nigeria has substantial environmental pollution problems 
resulting from industrial effluents, agricultural chemicals 
and domestic sewage and waste.  In addition to untreated 
sewage pollution, pollution from textile factories and 
tanneries is commonly dumped in nearby rivers.  Lagos is the 
only city in Nigeria that maintains a sewage treatment 
facility, but even that is inadequate to keep up with the 
growing population.  The Federal Ministry of Environment has 
commissioned assessments to be undertaken in 12 urban areas 
(Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna, Ibadan, 
Maiduguri, Yola, Abeokute, Onitsha, Jos and Uyo Ilorin) to 
design and assess the feasibility of community-based waste 
management systems.  A pilot project for Community Waste 
Minimization through source reduction, reuse, and recycling 
has been initiated in a village suburb of Abuja.  Also, the 
U.S. Trade and Development Agency recently signed a grant 
agreement with the Imo-Abia Waste Management Commission to 
conduct a feasibility study on a regional waste management 
Biodiversity and Wildlife Management 
11. The continued loss of Nigeria's tropical forests and the 
continued popularity and economic necessity of "bushmeat" as 
a staple in people's diets have taken their toll on the 
country's biodiversity resources.  In 1992, forests accounted 
for only 9.61 percent of the total land area.  Nigeria has a 
diverse collection of flora and fauna, including 274 species 
of mammals, 830 species of birds and 5,081 plant species. 
Out of the animal species, .14 percent are threatened and .22 
percent are endangered.  Of the mammals, two primates are 
endangered: the white-throated guenon and Sclater's guenon. 
Anti-poaching laws exist, but there is little enforcement. 
11. The World Wildlife Fund,s effort in South Africa to 
redirect efforts from killing wildlife and game towards 
benefiting from tourism generated by wildlife parks and 
recreation has been very successful and could perhaps be 
repeated in Nigeria.  The Savannah Conservation group, part 
of the Ford Foundation, is working to encourage residents 
surrounding the Yankari Game Park Reserve to not intrude on 
the park to poach game.  The group is also implementing a 
loan program to assist these communities. 

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