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5 Major Environmental Issues In West Africa, Nigeria

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

By Alison Achilonu,

Nigeria is one of the most popular countries in Africa and located in the western part of Africa. Nigeria is regarded as the “Giant of “Africa” because of its large population and growing economy. Nigeria is one of the most populated nations in Africa and faced with many environmental challenges. The major environmental issues in Nigeria are oil spillage, overpopulation, water pollution, air pollution, deforestation, desertification, erosion, floods, poor waste management system, poor health system, and climate change.

5 Major Environmental Issues

Oil spillage:

Residents of the Niger-delta in Nigeria suffer from oil spillage almost every year. Oil spillage is a common issue in Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta. About half of this spillage is a result of pipeline or tanker accidents, while other causes are sabotage, nonoperating product equipment, and oil production operations. Sabotage is also known as bunkering. The saboteur tries to tap the oil pipeline, and in the process, the pipeline is damaged or even destroyed. The major offenders are oil companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil, and Eni. Sabotage and oil theft (through siphoning) is a major issue in Nigeria which contributes to environmental degradation.


Overpopulation is another issue that is on the rise in Nigeria. The human population in Nigeria exceeds the number of available resources to meet the needs of everyone.

Causes of this overpopulation are:


Lack of proper family planning

Zero sex education

Some overpopulated areas and states in Nigeria include the North (Kaduna, Kano, and Katsina), West ( Lagos state), East (Anambra state)

Effects of overpopulation in Nigeria are:

Increased rate of unemployment

Natural resources depletion

The high cost of living

Water Pollution:

Water pollution has been another issue in the current Nigerian society. Contaminated water has been the primary cause of health issues like typhoid, dysentery, and even diarrhea in the country today. Oil spills into the ocean, rivers and becomes a life-threatening incident to aquatic animals that we depend on for a living, such as the crabs, oysters, fishes, crayfish, etc.

Causes of water pollution include

Oil spillage/leakage

Industrial wastes,

Plastic wastes

Leakage from sewers

Agricultural pollution

River dumping

Radioactive substances.

Air pollution:

Air pollution has been one of the biggest environmental issues faced in the country. About 94% of the Nigerian population is exposed to levels of air pollution, exceeding the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Major causes of air pollution in Nigeria:

Diesel generators

Smoke from burning of trash

Road dust

Smoke from industries

Smoke from exhaust pipes from cars and trucks

Smoke from burning

Leaking sewage


Deforestation in Nigeria has led to increased loss of wildlife, and had negative environmental implications. Nigeria is currently losing or has almost lost the war against deforestation.

Effects of deforestation in Nigeria

Loss of wildlife

Loss of trees

Loss of natural beauty of the environment

Soil erosion



However, there are possible solutions to resolve these preventable environmental issues. These problems are man-made, and not a natural disaster or occurrence. Some of the possible ways to help resolve this issue are;

Fighting against unnecessary felling of trees:

Trees are indeed the lungs of the mother earth. More trees in our surroundings and environment will make the air cleaner, beautify the environment, and give room for wildlife to stay.

All forms of garbage should be thrown or disposed of properly in the incinerator. Dumping of refuse and plastics in the river is not just an unpleasant sight, but hazardous to aquatic animals.

To avoid constant air pollution, minimize the use of generators, cars, and reduce bush burning.

Wildlife should be considered before deforestation. Nature should be cherished and protected at all cost, and not to be destroyed. The Nigerian industries and refineries should pay close attention to the people living around them. The Federal Government should pay close attention to people’s rights to inhale good air (breath freely).

Potential parents should always pay attention to family planning to reduce the increasing rate of the Nigerian population. Reusing and recycling of products will go a long way to save natural resources. Reserving forests (Forest reservations) will go a long way in preventing animals and wildlife from going into extinction.

It is in our hands as humans to do everything humanly possible to improve the environmental state. Practicing effective skills will help to contain oil spills. Oil companies should swing into action once a pipeline is broken. Immediate actions will help to preserve the lives of the aquatic animals that breathe underwater. The federal Government should fine, sanction or punish the companies or industries responsible for the act of polluting the environment.

Thanks for reading!


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