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ASEPA’s biggest beneficiary as Abia marks World Environmental Day

Since the 1972 Stockholm, Sweden UN Scientific Conference, also known as the first Earth Summit, environmental issues have become a global emergency that goes beyond national borders. The Stockholm conference adopted a declaration that set out the principles for the enhancement and sustenance of the human environment. It also outlined recommendations and action plans for international environmental action.

In line with international conventions and protocols June 5, the date of the conference, was adopted as the World Environment Day. Subsequent environmental conferences with alternative titles – Earth Summit, Global Warming, etc. – have also been convened at different times and continents to address the issue since the First World Climate Conference, which was held from February 12 – 23, 1979 in Geneva. The internationally coordinated effort in environmental impact underscores the importance of the environment to the sustenance and survival of life.

In recent times, the world has seen an increased manifestation of the negative impact of climate change. Parliaments across the globe including Nigeria have special committees on climate change. Environmental challenges manifest in several ways.

It is common to see rising shorelines and flooding, erosion and desert encroachment and ozone layer depletion. All these have upset the natural environment equilibrium tilting the balance of the ecosystem to the precipice. The situation has raised national and global concerns. In Abia State the global event was marked at the Women’s Development Centre, Umuahia.

The state’s Ministry of Environment in conjunction with the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), Abia State, held a Climate Change Summit, in commemoration of the 2021 World Environment Day. Participants at the event were drawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the media and public relations practitioners, government functionaries and schools.

Declaring the event open, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, represented by the Director of Forestry, John Ikpegbu, noted that the “World Environment Day” is celebrated every June 5 and saw no reason Abia State should be left out of the celebrations. He said the 2021 event with the theme, “Ecosystem restoration”, was significant as it implied that humans were not alone in the environment.

He explained that the event was also meant to create awareness of the environment for life and survival. According to him, the event was also geared towards reversing the loss of degraded natural ecosystems and to fight the impact of climate change. His words: “The essence of this programme is to address issues that concern sustainable development goals which also centre on our welfare and that of the environment. It has to do with sharing experiences, looking at the challenges of the future and to proffer solutions to some of these challenges.”

In his presentation titled, ‘Restoring the Ecosystem through Climate Change Actions, ‘ the Abia State Project Coordinator, of NEWMAP, Engr. Izuchukwu Onwughara, highlighted various approaches to tackling erosion as it affected the state. He listed the various locations where completed NEWMAP projects are sited in Abia State to include Amuda Achara gully erosion site, Umuda/Amafor Isingwu/ Umuagu erosion site. Amuzukwu gully erosion site and Umuezeukwu gully complex. Engr. Izuchukwu later handed over 1000 refuse receptacles to the general manager of the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA), Eze Okwulehi.

The Abia Project Coordinator hinted that the donation of the receptacles was a contribution from Abia NEWMAP under the special climate fund which he said was a grant from the World Bank. He further stated, while addressing newsmen, that: “The receptacles were handed to the government of Abia state through ASEPA so that they can be distributed in local government areas, government offices and other necessary places for the collection of solid waste within the state.”

Responding to the NEWMAP gesture, the General Manager of ASEPA, Hon Eze Okwulehi, said: “This is a welcomed development and I so much appreciate the management of NEWMAP on the quality of jobs they carry out in the state. We are going to distribute it evenly.” Okwulehi also discouraged any human activity that will degrade the environment, such as burning of tyres on the road, blocking the drainage and waterways with refuse and indiscriminate disposal of refuse, among others. In a communiqué issued at the end of the event, the participants commended Abia State government’s commitment to environmental issues as well as NEWMAP’s appropriate response to a healthy environment.

The Summit recommended sustenance of proactive measures and interventions to restore the EcoSystem. The Summit also called on communities to take advantage of the service provided by the government, through NEWMAP, to constantly report soil erosion, flooding and other environmental matters.

The people were called to cultivate the habit of planting trees, avoid cutting trees, avoid building on waterways and avoid unnecessary bush burning. The Summit called for the transformation of NEWMAP to an Agency to continue its work. It recommended effective enforcement of the Abia State environmental laws, reactivation of existing planting law in the state.

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