Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Exxon killed the reef: Coastal communities point at fossil fuel industry for killing the world’s coral reefs

 Divers from coastal communities around the world wrapped crime-scene tape around dead coral reefs during a series of underwater dives to highlight the catastrophic damage to this valuable ecosystem and the culpability of the fossil fuel industry for its loss.

A series of underwater photographs collected from Samoa, the Australian Great Barrier Reef, and the Andaman Islands have been released today to show case the impacts of the worst mass coral bleaching in recorded history and how it is one of the consequences of the reckless behaviour of Exxon and fossil fuel companies hindering global climate action.

Recent research confirms that the above-average sea temperatures causing this bleaching across 38 countries are the result of human-induced global climate change, rather than from local pollution as was previously argued, and thefossil-fuel industry is the main culprit behind these impacts.

Since the past century, companies like Exxon chose to ignore the warnings of their own scientists, and instead have been pouring resources to actively deceive the public by funding climate denial groups, recommending against climate shareholder resolutions, and obstructing climate action.

What were once bright colorful coral reefs full of life have turned bleached white then murky brown as they’ve died and become covered in algae. In places like the Great Barrier Reef up to 50% of previously healthy reef has been bleached and killed.

In North America, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting that Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, eastern Micronesia and Hainan Island (China) are likely to have the worst bleaching in the coming months, as well as some bleaching going on in Hawaii and various parts of the Caribbean.

The event started in 2014 with bleaching from the western Pacific to Florida. In 2015 the event went fully global but mostly through the impacts of global warming as much of the bleaching occurred before the 2015-16 El Niño developed. Reefs support approximately 25% of all marine species, so a massive coral die-off may risk the livelihoods of 500 million people and goods and services worth $375 billion each year.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Australia supports clean cookstoves production for IDP's




The Australian High Commission through the Direct Aid Program is providing clean cookstoves to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) isn the Malkohi camp in Yola, Adamawa State. This project is being implemented by the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED). Rather than giving clean cookstoves hand-outs to IDPs, the High Commission is teaching women and youth potters to construct stoves that save wood, reduce smoke and save money for IDP families and members of the Malkohi community. Several of the trained potters are already earning good income by selling efficient wood stoves.

According to Maryam Musa “Before Boko Haram drove us out of Gwoza in Borno State some of us were potters. Hardly did we know that our skills as potters will help us in our time of need as IDPs. Today, we have learnt to build these cooking stoves and now have a source of income to help our families”, she said. Access to fuel-efficient stoves, cooking fuel and lighting is usually a minimum standard in humanitarian response.

However, while clean cookstoves and lighting are all recognized as lifesaving non-food items provided to IDPs, these minimum requirements are not often met. In Nigeria, there is no formal recognition of this gap in humanitarian support and therefore fuel and energy are not yet an integrated part of the items provided to IDPS.

According to Ewah Eleri, Executive Director of ICEED, “this project seeks to fill a gap in the humanitarian response in Nigeria. Typical IDP camps are characterized by lack of opportunities for employment and meaningful livelihood. This contributes to youth restiveness and tension. Adopting alternative fuels and energy technologies can create jobs for IDPS, especially women and youths.

The use of these stoves also reduces the risks of physical and sexual attacks faced by IDP women”, he concluded. The project has empowered about fifty IDP women and youths in the production of clay based energy efficient cookstoves, and will be training fifty more on sales and distribution of the stoves. These stoves reduce emissions of harmful gases compared to the traditional three-stone open fire stoves and firewood consumption by about 50%.

The broad objective of the project is to strengthen the protection of IDPs and provide them with a sustainable source of livelihood. By building their skills on sustainable energy production, IDPs in Malkohi camp are now also making important contributions to combating climate change.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Nigeria Validates Country-Specific Action Plan for SE4ALL

For Nigeria to be among the twenty largest economy in the world by 2020, secured, equitable and environmentally sustainable energy supply for creation of employment, which are inter-related challenges, must be addressed.

This was the position of the Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu during a 2-day technical validation workshop on sustainable energy for all (SE4ALL) action agenda.

Dr. Onu said the Federal Government was committed to accelerate the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the country through the National Energy Policy, the Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP) and the vision 2020-20.

Though he stated that this can be achieved through the transformation of the nation’s economy, from one based mainly on fossil fuel to a low carbon economy based around renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The Minister said though sustainable energy for all initiative which was a global agenda was launched in 2011 during the United Nations General Assembly, it was important for all relevant stakeholders to deliberate in making it an action-plan for the realisation of sustainable energy for all in the country.

The Representative of the United Nations Development Program UNDP Country Director Mr. Muyiwa Odele pointed out that the SE4ALL initiative, will go a long way to complement government's efforts at increasing Nigeria's access to electricity and other modern energy services for economic growth.

Mr. Odele said it has become imperative to meet the energy need of many Nigerians both in the rural and urban areas, through the promotion of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency.

According to him “the UNDP has been working tirelessly in partnership with the Energy Commission of Nigeria ECN and support from the Global Environment Facility GEF to put in place minimum energy performance standards for lighting and refrigerators for regulation of Sub-saharan products”.

“And also the establishment of standard energy efficiency testing laboratories for quality standardization for the Standard Organisation of Nigeria SON”.

Mr. Odele announced that the UNDP and ECN energy efficiency project which is parts of its contribution to ongoing national efforts to rebuild the Northeast which was destroyed by the terrorist group Boko Haram, in off-grid communities has been extended to ten more communities in Adamawa state.

It would be recalled that the UNDP and ECN sustainable energy for all project was implemented in two communities in Hong local government area of Adamawa state benefitted 267 households and two primary healthcare centers.

The Director of the Energy Commission of Nigeria Professor Eli Jidere Bala said the agency has been working with other stakeholders since 2012, when the sustainable energy for all initiative was launched in Nigeria to domesticate the United Nations initiative in the country.

Professor Bala explained that through series of workshops and meetings held since 2012, it was time for the preparation of country-specific action agenda across government ministries and departments, to bridge the gaps earlier identified in line with international template.

Participants drawn from different Federal Government ministries, departments, agencies, international organisations, civil society organisations and the media, were divided into expert groups.

The groups were in the area of energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency and contributed towards the sustainable energy for all action agenda for Nigeria.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Nigeria's Environment Ministry, Eight Months After by Greg Odogwu

am happy to announce to my esteemed readers that the remediation of the lead-polluted Shikira, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State has been commenced by the Federal Ministry of Environment. Sadly, this is coming one year and three months after the devastating outbreak of lead poisoning that killed about 30 children and left hundreds of others with high level lead contaminants in their blood, in the rural mining community. However, as they say, better late than never.

                Ongoing environmental remediation at Shakira village, Niger state.


In view of the importance of this clean-up, I will like to use this opportunity to look at the progress made at the Federal Ministry of Environment, eight months after swearing in of the two ministers posted to oversee the country’s foremost eco-institution.

This is a task I cannot avoid, considering the fact that during the electioneering days of President Muhammadu Buhari, I wrote an article entitled, “How green is Buhari?” which was informed by then Candidate Buhari’s campaign promise to Ogoni elders that he would ensure that the UNEP report on the clean-up of Ogoniland was implemented. And then, immediately after the appointment and posting of his ministers, I wrote the piece, “Buhari’s green pegs in green holes” where I pointed out that the ministers sent to key eco-related ministries had what it takes to handle such portfolios.

To the question of whether Buhari would fulfil his campaign promise to the Ogoni elders, it can be seen that the train has already left the station, and the answer is now manifest. The singular promise is that he would dust up the almost-buried UNEP report on Ogoni pollution, and implement it by cleaning up the awfully polluted community.

For those cynical towards the presidential action in Ogoniland, I can only wonder why some people have a penchant for pandering towards the parochial. If deploying to Ogoni was that easy, why didn’t Nigeria’s immediate past president do so? And never forget, UNEP did not say that Ogoni could be cleaned in one day; it said the pollution is so widespread and abysmal that it would take 30 years and billions of dollars to do so. But then, somebody has to take the first step. And, if Buhari is that leader that summoned the will to take the eco-stride, then we all must commend him!


Now, to the green ministers. 

Last year, I argued that, indeed, we have green pegs for green holes. Before now, the country’s environment ministry was notorious for being run by what some environmentalists usually described as quacks. These were politicians who in the spirit of political patronage, were called up to fill the quota of their godfathers or ethno-religious demographics. While they were not considered for “specialist” ministries like Health and Justice, they were quickly inducted into the Ministry of Environment to carry on business as usual. After all, even the President who posted them never even considered the ministry as “juicy”.

So, Nigeria found itself in the hands of environment ministers who never understood anything about global environmental best practices; and how the environment is presently the centre piece of international politics, and the fabric of sustainable development. But Buhari appointed Amina Mohammed, a woman with over 30 years experience in the sector (in civil society, in private practice and in government), to sit at the helm of the ministry.

Concerning the Shikira affair, Mohammed showed exemplary leadership by visiting Shikira; a singular action that guided fundamental message to the government, and succeeded in opening its mind to the import of the Shikira situation, and subsequently galvanised action from relevant stakeholders towards commencement of the remediation.

But then, that was not the first time I had become aware of Mohammed’s hands-on approach to eco-exigencies. My first experience was towards the end of last year, just weeks after her swearing-in. That day, I had cause to call Priscilla Achakpa, the Executive Director of Women Environment Programme. Achakpa sounded busy on the telephone, and I could hear some chaotic background noise. She then apologised, and told me that we should leave the discussions for a later date because she was actually on an urgent assignment.

She told me that as I spoke with her, she was with the minister of environment on a nationwide situation-analysis trip to ecological emergency flashpoints. And, at that moment they were at the farthest frontier of the desert-encroached Yobe ecosystem, taking inventory of the impact of desertification in the North-East. I was really impressed because that was at the peak of the Christmas season, when people talked more of holiday and less of work.

That was when I realised that my hunch – and my green pegs article – was right on the money; Buhari had sent a true development worker to undertake the country’s eco-business.

This then shows that the first task that was embarked on the ministry under its new leadership was a proper, data-based, research-oriented situational analysis of Nigeria’s environmental infrastructure, and eco-disaster theatres, from Nanka to Anka.

And of course, President Buhari relied on the Ministry of Environment to guide the Ogoni clean-up project.

Nevertheless, I am aware that many a Nigerian would demand to see empirical evidence of the impact of the environment ministry in his constituency and neighborhood; and its trickle-down effects on his every-day livelihood.

I have personally looked around for certain projects too. I wanted to know how the ministry would carry on with energy efficiency initiatives, like clean cook stove; tree planting, waste-to-wealth, and especially the Extended Producers Responsibility programme that has yet to take off in the country.

In fact, being a stakeholder of sort, I did some leg work. But that was when I came face to face with some hard truths, which I will like to share with my readers.

First of all, I realised that no matter how much of political will or good intentions that one deploys to carry out environmental tasks, the sector still faces the problem that others face – money, money, money!

To illustrate, I gathered from a highly placed source that the Ministry of Environment sent a proposal of about N100bn for its capital projects for the 2016 Appropriation Bill; but the Presidency approved only about N5bn (including funds for Shikira remediation). Now tell me, to what extend could N5bn attempt to achieve N100bn tasks? The answer is why our eco-system may not see major improvements, yet.

Some people may ask, what about the Ecological Fund? – if not for anything, but for the fact that by nomenclature, it is money for environmental projects. But for others that know, there is nothing more deceptive than the concept of naming a country’s official slush fund after the environment.

I am also privy to privileged information that Mohammed approached President Buhari to domicile the money where it should be under environment ministry, but he gave her a vigorous shake-of-head. This is significant. A president touted – at least by my humble self – as green, should not have had any qualms in redirecting the almighty Ecological Funds Office to the Environment. But realpolitik took the best of him.

Who can blame Buhari, after all he did not get to power through the platform of a Green Party?

Therefore, I have one advice for the environment minister. Because there is no money to do much, just try and entrench one policy to unite the eco-system with the private sector, i.e. the EPR. It would be a great monument to your name that in many years to come, Nigerians would remember you for institutionalising Waste-to-Wealth as driven by business and not by eco-justice.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

UNDP/ECN boost standard of living in former Boko Haram Territories














About 2,000 residents of Gaya Silkami and Fa’a Gaya village in Hong Local Government area in Adamawa state have benefitted from the United Nations Development Program UNDP Sustainable Energy for All SE4ALL project.
The project is aimed at improving access to clean energy services by harnessing the solar energy resources for electricity generation in communities ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.
The Deputy Director of the Energy Commission of Nigeria ECN who are the technical partners of the project, Engineer Okon Ekpenyong said the project was tailored to boost the energy need of communities and enable them undertake their day to day activities as the economic status of the communities were totally destroyed by the insurgent attack.
“People in our communities have daily energy need for lighting their homes, communities. They also require water for daily household chores. This project is multifaceted to make life easy for the community”.
Engineer Ekpenyong explained that after a need analysis was conducted and data obtained from different households, that the data was instrumental in the execution of the project which was carried within one month.
“In the course of our survey, we discovered that one of the communities have two primary health centres. The lack of power supply to the communities affected the delivery of basic health care. Immunization rate was very poor as health workers have to travelled for about two hours to collect vaccines from the local government headquarters. The vaccines also have to be in good condition before they are administered. There was no place to store vaccines and keep them viable”.
“The project involves the provision of a solar-powered refrigerator to keep vaccines in good condition, solar-powered water borehole with 10,000 litres capacity for provision of potable water, solar lamps that can last for 44 hours and street lights in two strategic locations in each communities”.
The Village Head of Gaya Silkami, Mr. Jafaru Biyama described the execution time of the project as a thunder lightning.
“In the past Politicians will promise us heaven on earth but none of their promises will be fulfilled. Even after Boko Haram attacked our village twice in February 2015 and we fled to the mountains. It was hard returning back to resettle when the Nigerian Army reclaimed our village from the terrorist. How were we going to live our lives? Before now, this village has never ever been connected to power supply. But just within the blink of our eyes, UNDP has changed our lives for good”.
“I am so grateful because we don't need to buy fuel before we can power our borehole or use generator to power our health centers or keep our vaccines cold. The sun that shines in this village is our fuel. Our women no longer have to travel back and forth to the streams in search of drinking water. During dry season, it is hard to get any clean water from the stream. But that has changed now. Our community is lighted at night. We can see who is coming in and out. This is like a dream but it is for real”, he added.
The Health Officer at Gaya Silkami Health Center Mr. Javan Zakari that the project has resulted in increase attendance of antenatal classes, immunization rate and improved health operations at the health center.
“The whole health center has now been wired and connected to solar energy. There is power supply 24 hours daily. No excuse not to attend to patients. In the past we use lanterns to perform some surgical operations but now the whole place is lighted. Vaccines are available and administered without traveling long distance before we can access them. But we will appreciate, if we can get ambulances to refer our patients to hospitals in town and also a functional and equipped laboratory”, he appealed.
A youth in Gaya Silkami village Jimmy Yakubu said after the insurgent attack he had no means of livelihood but the street light in the village is boosting his business. “Many people now hang out at night and this means more sales for me. I am happy and proud of my village.
The project coordinator Mr. Sunday said youths in the two villages were trained in the installation of solar home systems, and the installations and maintenance of the solar powered water borehole during the course of the project execution.
Mr. Sunday explained that youths from the two villages are now skilled in solar power installations and maintenance.
Ga’a Faya village which is about 3-4 hours drive from Hong LGA headquarters and bordering Borno state through Chibok town, only healthcare center which was destroyed by Boko Haram insurgency is yet to be rebuilt. This has rendered the villagers with no access to healthcare.

UNDP/ECN boost standard of living in former Boko Haram Territories














About 2,000 residents of Gaya Silkami and Fa’a Gaya village in Hong Local Government area in Adamawa state have benefitted from the United Nations Development Program UNDP Sustainable Energy for All SE4ALL project.
The project is aimed at improving access to clean energy services by harnessing the solar energy resources for electricity generation in communities ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.
The Deputy Director of the Energy Commission of Nigeria ECN who are the technical partners of the project, Engineer Okon Ekpenyong said the project was tailored to boost the energy need of communities and enable them undertake their day to day activities as the economic status of the communities were totally destroyed by the insurgent attack.
“People in our communities have daily energy need for lighting their homes, communities. They also require water for daily household chores. This project is multifaceted to make life easy for the community”.
Engineer Ekpenyong explained that after a need analysis was conducted and data obtained from different households, that the data was instrumental in the execution of the project which was carried within one month.
“In the course of our survey, we discovered that one of the communities have two primary health centres. The lack of power supply to the communities affected the delivery of basic health care. Immunization rate was very poor as health workers have to travelled for about two hours to collect vaccines from the local government headquarters. The vaccines also have to be in good condition before they are administered. There was no place to store vaccines and keep them viable”.
“The project involves the provision of a solar-powered refrigerator to keep vaccines in good condition, solar-powered water borehole with 10,000 litres capacity for provision of potable water, solar lamps that can last for 44 hours and street lights in two strategic locations in each communities”.
The Village Head of Gaya Silkami, Mr. Jafaru Biyama described the execution time of the project as a thunder lightning.
“In the past Politicians will promise us heaven on earth but none of their promises will be fulfilled. Even after Boko Haram attacked our village twice in February 2015 and we fled to the mountains. It was hard returning back to resettle when the Nigerian Army reclaimed our village from the terrorist. How were we going to live our lives? Before now, this village has never ever been connected to power supply. But just within the blink of our eyes, UNDP has changed our lives for good”.
“I am so grateful because we don't need to buy fuel before we can power our borehole or use generator to power our health centers or keep our vaccines cold. The sun that shines in this village is our fuel. Our women no longer have to travel back and forth to the streams in search of drinking water. During dry season, it is hard to get any clean water from the stream. But that has changed now. Our community is lighted at night. We can see who is coming in and out. This is like a dream but it is for real”, he added.
The Health Officer at Gaya Silkami Health Center Mr. Javan Zakari that the project has resulted in increase attendance of antenatal classes, immunization rate and improved health operations at the health center.
“The whole health center has now been wired and connected to solar energy. There is power supply 24 hours daily. No excuse not to attend to patients. In the past we use lanterns to perform some surgical operations but now the whole place is lighted. Vaccines are available and administered without traveling long distance before we can access them. But we will appreciate, if we can get ambulances to refer our patients to hospitals in town and also a functional and equipped laboratory”, he appealed.
A youth in Gaya Silkami village Jimmy Yakubu said after the insurgent attack he had no means of livelihood but the street light in the village is boosting his business. “Many people now hang out at night and this means more sales for me. I am happy and proud of my village.
The project coordinator Mr. Sunday said youths in the two villages were trained in the installation of solar home systems, and the installations and maintenance of the solar powered water borehole during the course of the project execution.
Mr. Sunday explained that youths from the two villages are now skilled in solar power installations and maintenance.
Ga’a Faya village which is about 3-4 hours drive from Hong LGA headquarters and bordering Borno state through Chibok town, only healthcare center which was destroyed by Boko Haram insurgency is yet to be rebuilt. This has rendered the villagers with no access to healthcare.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

DECLARE SHIKIRA A NATIONAL EMERGENCY AND REMEDIATE THE COMMUNITY


  


Connected Development [CODE] is humbly calling on the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President BukolaSaraki and Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara to declare Shikira, a small rural mining community in Rafilocal government in Niger State a “national emergency,” to address the lead outbreak epidemic that recorded 65 cases way back in May, 2015 due to negligence.

 

This call to Save Shikira is to reinforce the assessment plan released by the Response Planning Development Committee on Outbreak of Lead Poisoning in Niger State established in May, 2015. 

 

It is sad to note that nothing meaningful has been done about the crisis since the submission of the Committee’s report which contained that N500 million should as matter of urgently be approved to clean-up the community contaminated by lead poison due to improper mining activities which had claimed the lives of 28 children, mostly those below (5) five years. Laboratory testing confirmed high levels of lead in the blood of the over hundreds of surviving children, livestock’s and water reserves.

 

To Connected Development [CODE]this kind of attitudes is even more worrisome and shocking as the outbreak left other children with many anomalies such as fever, pallor, abdominal pain, vomiting, convulsion, altered level of consciousness and nervous breakdownIf nothing is done urgently, these children would be deformed for life. 

 

Dear Mr. President, Senate President and Mr. Speaker, this situation may look bad when assessed outwardly, but inwardly there are sustainable solutions. It may interest you to know that Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders - MSF) are presently on ground to provide free medical services: Chelation therapy, but are arms twisted because they need government to first clean-up the contaminated areas for them to intervene. 

President Buhariplease approve the needed intervention funds from the Ecological Funds Officefor urgent remediation to help save Shikira.

Senate President Saraki and Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogarawe urge you to urgently debate lead poison on the floor of the Senate and the House respectivelyto help save Shikira by declaring this a national emergency and compel the Executive arm to speedily approve and release the needed funds for intervention while you ensure oversight for speedy implementations.

 

It is important to note that the raining season is almost here and might contaminatneighbouring communities and villages surrounding Rafi LGA putting more children at risk and degrading our environment at large.  

 

We strongly blame this onslaught on human lives on administrative recklessness and lack of “will” by institutions and political actors to tackle the plights of the citizenry in local communities

 

As part of our contributions to address the crisis, we would host a stakeholders dialogue in the state which will bring together participants from ministries departments and agencies (MDAa) at state and federal level such as Environment, Health, Mines and Solid MineralsNigeria Centre for Disease Control, CSOs & CBOs, development partners as well as locals in the community.

Also, our Follow The Money Team is keen in ensuring transparency and accountability in tracking and visualising funds released for this local community as we have done in the case of Bagega which we successfully tracked over 850 million naira that helped saved the lives of 1500 children in Zamfara state

 

Lastly, are using this medium to call on the federal government to review the 2007 Mining Act to reflect present realities in the sector as it affects local communities and artisanal miners. Government should also consider sanctions for culprits responsible for this menace to avert similar occurrence elsewhere in the country.