Climate change is driving millions to poverty in ECOWAS, says Buhari

President Buhari addresses ECOWAS leaders in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari says climate change is driving millions of people in the Lake Chad Basin into poverty.

Buhari also said the poor regional integration and the climate change experienced in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is as a result of globalisation.

He said this while speaking at the 50th ordinary session of the ECOWAS summit of heads of state and government on Saturday.

He called for countries in ECOWAS to diversify their economies in the bid to improve on the region’s economy.

“Our modest achievements in regional integration are being challenged by globalization. Today, most of our countries continue to record low volume of trade, occasioned by declining level of economic activities, caused by the sharp fall in commodity prices,”Buhari said.

“While oil prices fell by an astounding 57 percent between June 2014 and January 2015, other commodity prices have also weakened sharply thereby putting pressure on the current account and fiscal balances of our countries.

“This ugly situation demands that we diversify our respective economies from commodities into other sectors such as banking, construction and telecommunications and most importantly agro–processing, manufacturing and services.  As we adjust to a more challenging globalized environment, stronger efforts are required to increase domestic revenue mobilisation in our countries and Community Institutions.

“Member States must diversify their economies away from trade in commodities towards developing robust infrastructure that will support manufacturing and industrialisation. To this end, I urge the Community to invest more in infrastructure and human resources so as to unleash the potentials that exist in our respective economies and in our peoples.

“Another adverse effect of globalization, which we needs to be confronted collectively, is climate change which is affecting our countries in many ways such as desertification, erosion, rise in sea level and flooding. This situation is further worsened by the near absence of response and adaptive capacities in our countries.

“The negative consequences of Climate Change, including the drying up of water bodies are real in the region. For example, Lake Chad, which was once one of Africa’s largest water reservoirs, has over the years shrank to less than 10 percent of its original size, drastically affecting livelihoods of millions of people living in the Basin.

“This has resulted in environmental degradation, poverty, under development and displacement of peoples.”

Buhari said conscious efforts should be made on governance and accountability.

“In addition, the cost of governance must be reduced across all ECOWAS Institutions while resources should be devoted to programs and projects that will have direct bearing on the lives of ordinary citizenry and create jobs  fast enough to absorb our teeming youth population,” he said.