Monday, 31 December 2012

MIT: A NEW PHASE IN MY JOURNALISM CAREER


After my sojourn by road across six Africa countries all for climate change reporting, my zeal to do more impactful stories increased. 2012 was a year I lost count of how many programmes and fellowships I had applied for.

The first quarter of the year for me, apart from doing my normal journalistic work, was also a time I spent on research, surfing online.
I decided to stop doing the he said, they said stories and do more people/issues stories. This was not easy but I worked on myself, became more of a multimedia journalist that just broadcast.

One programme I was interested in was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellowship. I first learnt of it when I goggled and found out that few Africans and Nigerians were part of it. Earlier in the year, I saw the nine-month fellowship calling for applicants but I felt I was not qualifies and shy away from it.

But in August, when I saw the call for application, I decided to give it a shot. I applied for the medical evidence programme and months later, I received a mail from the organiser’s that I was more suited for the energy and climate change programme. I agreed for my application to be submitted for the programme.

Exactly a week after discussing with a past fellow Diran Onifade a broadcaster of over thirty-five years experience that I would join them one day to be a fellow, I received a mail.
On the fifteen of November, I received a mail that I have been selected to participate in the Knight Science Journalism programme on energy and climate change. My joy knew no bound, I was humbled and resolved to do nothing but more.

As I looked back, I remember my editor Michael Simire, who gave me the platform on which my stories was published on EnviroNews Nigeria. The online media website where my environment science reporting skills were horned. The hope he gave to my stories that I could write, be published and selected to be a great science journalist.

MIT is the third best university in the world and I am proud to be a part of it through the Knight Science Journalism Programme.

Happy New Year!!!

Nigeria: Climate Solution should be indigenous.


Nigeria as a country is unique in demography, culture, and challenges and strategic to the African continent.

That we are having our fair share of the global changing climate is no longer news but solution to these changes are not been looked into as urgent. The massive and devastating floods experienced across two-third of states in Nigeria’s thirty-six states, was historical according to Minister of Environment Hajia Hadiza Malaifa when she addressed the African group during the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Doha Qatar. She explained how vast farmlands were washed away, communities submerged and residents displaced.

What could have been done to prevent this from happening, I mean the flood. Probably nothing. But something could have been done to reduce its impact and peoples vulnerability to it.

During the Annual Meeting of the African Academy of Science AMASA-8 held in Lagos, the Director General of Nigeria Institute of Meteorology Dr. Anuforom expressed displeasure at how forecast was given about heavy rainfall that would be experienced in most states in the country but the states government did not work with the given information. If they have taken the early warning signal seriously the level of devastation and death would have been reduced.

When information was given, action would accompany. Having the people to relocate to higher grounds, farmers would have carried out emergency harvest and other proactive measures. As we approach 2013, the climate would continue to change. What have both the Federal and States government learnt from 2012 flooding that could be described as historical? Are we still going to be told that the Cameroun government released water from its dam or poor and helpless people should relocate to Mars/Venus?

The presidential committee on flood set up by President Good luck Jonathan should not only work on logistics for flood victims but other risk and disaster management strategies.

Relief camps should be built in every state for emergency climate disaster, training of officials related to disaster and emergency, research and development on how to forecast climate risk and solutions and also periodic and consistent awareness on climate possibilities.

Nobody can solve our problem but we and we have the capacity both human and financial to resolve our climate challenges.

CNN HERO AWARD


Ten great and inspiring men and women were recognized during the CNN hero award held on the 24th of December. According to Copper Anderson the compere of the event, these people against all odds have touched lives of the helpless and voiceless in their society.

As I stayed glued to the TV all through the ceremony, I was moved by how these great men and women have changed their society. For some of them their personal grief challenges became a reason to change lives for good.

Thulani Mandoholoo, from South Africa grew up in a ghetto and saw how many young people lived an unfulfilled live but was determined to give hope to the next generation of young people.

Marla Villard-Appolon from Haiti, a mother who was abused at a refugee camp after the Haiti earthquake, decided to speak up against domestic violence. Many women have been raped, beaten by men. I can’t watch and see all these continue against women. I decided to mobilize women and speak to them. This has helped them gained their self esteem that was lost due to these abuses.

Wanda Butts a Black-American mother lost her teenage son Josh, who drowned. Wanda mourned her son day and night for a year but decided to immortalize his memory. She started teaching children how to swim because she believes that black American children are more vulnerable to die by drowning because they are hardly told about drowning by their parents. The fear associated to drowning, she has eliminated in the lives of thousands of young children.

Leo McCarthy lost his teenage daughter Mariah, to a careless drunk young truck driver. His fourteen year old daughter was killed by a drunken truck driver and in her memory he set up a foundation. The Mariah challenge encouraged young Americans not to consume alcohol until they are twenty-one years old and can be more responsible for their action.

The overall winner was Pushpa Basnet a twenty-nine year old from Nepal that give care to children of women serving jail term in Nepal. Pushpa said she did not want the children to be jailed with their mother but wanted them to experience freedom. Pushpa has a home that accommodates hundreds of these children. She provides education, feeding and shelter for them. Pushpa said she is inspired as these children spend the best parts of their childhood before her watchful eyes.

All these inspiring people from different parts of the world are giving meaning to lives. What is that dream of change that you have? Why not start something today.

Nigerians Love Carbon


Carbon emission is responsible for the changing climate and its effect that has resulted in terrible weather condition in the last quarter of 2012. From hurricane sandy in New York United States, to crazy freezing temperature in Russia which reached minus fifty in some poor region in one of the coldest parts of the earth. But all these different condition is due to the scientific element called “CARBON”.

I had a discussion with my host cousin in the United State and was shocked at what she told me. Amaka Okoye a Nigerian who has lived in the United States for about four years, told me ninety percent of Nigerians living in the United States are sick. I was like what can of statistics was that. She said most Nigerians that migrated from home to settle in the US have one kind of sickness or the other. “It is either they have high blood pressure”. These she attributed to our feeding pattern that has carbohydrate as it backbone.

Most people either consume eba, rice, yam, bread which are all staple food but very high in carbohydrate. Amaka explained that when you stay in the US, you have to undergo basic health check. This health check is to help determine your health status. But back home Nigerians go to the hospital or undergo health check when they are sick. This non-challant and ignorant attitude she observed has led to many premature deaths in recent time. People die anyhow in Nigeria for minor reason. Do you know before someone has type ll diabetes in the US, it would have been detected? Do you know many Americans survive cancer? But at home cancer is a death sentence.

She lamented with passion and expressed anger at how people accumulate carbon in their body. We need to check what we eat. Nigerians love carbon. We are blessed with nutritious fruits and vegetables that are very natural. In the US some of these fruits are genetically modified and could be harmful to the body. But in Nigeria, we have very natural fruits growing. We should include that in our diet. I am coming back home next year but I have bought almost what I will eat in Nigeria here in the US.

Amaka also talked about our palm oil consumption. According to her palm oil is very rich in cholesterol. The cholesterol level in palm oil is very high. For me that was like a shocker because I have heard a lot of people saying palm oil contain vitamin A, which is good for the eyes. I remember the different “mama put” kiosk in Lagos and the amount of palm oil in their pots of soups.

Nigerians do we really love carbon saturated food? High level carbohydrate in the blood and body, scientist said leads to diabetes, obesity and other disease conditions. I believe the carbon level in an average Nigeria meal should be traded in the international carbon market.
How much carbon do you consume? Eat wisely today for a healthy body.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Sweden Short of Waste to Recycle

Sweden has recently found itself in a shortage, but not the typical items you'd ordinarily think of when you hear the word shortage. What they are short on is trash.

The country had developed a way of generating energy from garbage and now has reached a point where it needs more refuse to keep its energy programs running.

Sweden recycles trash to create energy. It seems the program of converting their own trash is so successful, Sweden is now increasing its importation of trash.

Sweden is now stepping up its efforts to increase its supply of waste. Sweden currently imports eight hundred thousand tons of trash per year from the rest of Europe and uses it to create energy in its power plants.

“We have more capacity than the production of waste in Sweden and that is usable for incineration,” said Catarina Ostlund, Senior Advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Several countries, including Norway, pay Sweden to take their trash. It is less costly for Norwegians to pay for removal than burn their own.

In Sweden, only four per cent of household waste ends up in landfills, said media reports. The recycled trash creates heated water for some, and also powers electricity for about 250,000 homes. Without enough trash, Sweden could find itself unable to create enough heat and electricity.

Aside from the shortage issue, there is another drawback to this type of recycling. Public Radio International reported there are dioxins in the ashes of the waste that pollute the air, along with some heavy metals that need to go into landfills; those ashes are said to be sent back to Norway to go into landfills.

Sweden's waste incineration program was started in the 1940s. The major expansion of waste incineration plants occurred in the 1970s. Sweden is reportedly looking to import waste from Bulgaria, Romania and Italy in the future since those countries are said to mostly rely on landfills.

According to the former Secretary General of the United Nation Koffi Annan the development of sustainable cities is based on how they manage there waste.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

REDUCING CLIMATE RISKS IN AFRICA THROUGH SCIENCE AND INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES


The realities of Climate Change effect in Africa and Nigeria is glaring, and urgent steps are needed to curb the negative impact it is having in the region. President Goodluck Jonathan stated this during his opening speech at the 8th Annual Meeting of the Africa Academy of Science AMASA- EIGHT held in Lagos.

The theme of the Conference “Climate Change in Africa: Using Science to Reduce the Climate Risks” according to President Jonathan is in line with the believe that science is a tool to proffer solutions to challenges affecting man. Sustainable management of natural resources, biofuel production and clean energy initiatives are key areas that provide investment opportunities in Africa.
In his words “Science cannot be ignored. It continues to assume greater importance in todays society. Science is essential for human security, prosperity, health and environment.

A member of the Africa Development Bank ADB Dr Anthony Nyong pointed out that there are diverse investment opportunities in Africa that would help reduce the risks associated with the effect of climate change which has continued to increase the level of poverty in the region.
He urged African leaders to invest in the energy sector by harnessing clean energy sources of renewable energy such as solar and wind.
He added that the amount of solar energy available in Africa can lift the region out of its energy poverty level which has made most people living in Africa to be without source of power. “The renewable energy sources are clean and would not increase carbon emission”.

In attracting the investments in climate technology African leaders need to address policy and regulatory barriers, provide accurate and current data that investors would be able to plan and work.
Though Africa receives the lowest proportion of finance for adaptation but by mainstreaming climate factors into development issues this would help reduce the risk associated with climate change in the continent.

The host of the conference Professor Oye -Ibidapo-Obe stressed that Africans are the ones that can solve the Africa problem and through science this can be achieved. According to him the known world powers were able to attain the level of development they have because they invested in the area of research and development.

He appealed to African leaders to allocate fund judiciously for research and development in their budget to enable scientists and researchers undertake ground breaking findings that would enhance development. “It is sad that African scientists and researchers have to largely depend on aids and grants from foreign donors before they can carry out research. Africa is blessed enough to invest in research and development.

Professor Ibidapo-Obe said the Eighth Annual Meeting of the African Academy of Science (AMASA 8) is organized to bring stakeholders to focus on the occurrence of climate change in Africa and its impact on public health and food security, to advocate for an inclusive science based agenda on adaptation to, and mitigation of climate risks in Africa. Also to initiate a process for the long term engagement of African science academies with their governments and relevant stakeholders on climate change issues, and to discuss ways to mobilize finance for climatic effects in Africa.

In a joint statement by the African Science Academies from the fourteen member countries titled “ raising the African voice” the African Academies called on governments in Africa and the Africa Union to provide and increase support for scientific research on climate change, and foster a continuing engagement with national science Academies for providing technical advice on climate change.

The Nineth edition of the conference would be held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia in November, 2013.

Financial Tracking Tool Increases Hope for MDG's Attainment

With less than three years to 2015 when member countries of the United Nation’s agreed on achieving the eight millennium development goals there could be hope in attaining the goals.

The United Nations UN and indeed most developing countries are launching different countdown strategies, programs and actions aimed at accelerating the achievement of the MDGs.

The UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, in ensuring the achievement of the MDGs, in 2012, developed the Integrated Implementation Framework (IIF) initiative endorsed by the Chief Executive Board of the United Nations System in April, 2011 to track financial and policy commitments made towards the achievement of the MDGs.

The tool developed to fast track the attainment process of the MDG known as Integrated Implementation Framework IIF was launched recently during a media conference held in Abuja.

The Special Assistant to the President on the MDG, Dr. Gbenol Kalambar said the IIF was developed to track financial as well as policy commitment made towards the achievement of the MDG.
Dr. Kalambar explained that the tool would strengthen accountability as financial commitment, related to the MDG would be co-ordinated as transaction would be transparent for all to monitor.

According to her the present administration of President Good luck Jonathan is committed to the MDG actualization in the country.
“Over nine hundred billion naira has been earmarked to ensure those in the grassroots benefit from the MDG which is all about improving the living standard of the ordinary man”.

The United Nation Country Representative Dr. Yahaya Toure said the United Nation would support Nigeria in achieving the MDG because of the she plays an important role in the region as a major stakeholder.
The level of attainment of the MDG in Nigeria is significant to the Africa Continent, he added.

Dr. Toure expressed optimism that if the IIF is properly utilized donor agencies and countries would be encouraged to be more committed in financing MDG projects in developing countries.

The IIF involves constant monitoring and tracking that can measure performance among member countries of the United Nation’s.

The National Co-ordinator of the United Nation Millennium Campaign office Mr. Hillary Ogbonna called on the media to see themselves as an important stakeholder in ensuring Nigeria attain the MDG’s by 2015.

Mr. Ogbonna urged journalists to monitor the MDG projects in their area of operations and report on the process, so that Nigeria would not be left behind in achieving one of the most critical development agreement made by the United Nation.

United Nation's Climate Change Conference: Co-operations among nation’s increases



Unlike in the past there is now co-operation among nations in thematic areas to work and negotiate on towards reaching a legal binding agreement that would help reduce global carbon emission.

This was the observation of the Executive Secretary of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC Christiana Figures when she addressed the media during the ongoing climate talks in Doha Qatar.

She believes that this would enhance the level of co-operation among member countries parties as most countries came to the conference with specific commitment in reducing carbon. Also there is now a common ground for negotiations among the countries attending the climate talk.

The delay in reaching a global agreement by all parties is due is to the different level of negotiations that which is both on the political and social perspectives. She explained that countries have to negotiate in line with their unique challenges and how it can be incorporated and addressed on the larger negotiation process.

This she pointed out that the Inter-governmental panel on climate change IPCC which is the highest level of scientist working with the UNFCCC has called for an urgent need for there to be a working and decisive binding agreement among countries to reduce carbon emission because there is no longer time for delay. According to her the delay is detrimental to the preservation of the earth as the impact of climate change continues to be on the devastating increase globally.

Figueres added that there are forty-five agenda to be discussed in the conference and the high level negotiation which would involve heads of states and there delegates is how industrialized countries are going to measure up financially as economic recession increases in the region.

A delegate from Nigeria Prince Lekan Fadina, stressed that a second commitment to the Kyoto Protocol is part of the African position as adaptation and sustainable livelihood is needed to help the region adapt to the effect of climate change.
Prince Fadina said Africa needs finance for adaptation to reduce the socio-economic effect, it would have on the people and economy with technology transfer key for Africa’s adaptation.

Furthermore Prince Fadina urged the different participants from Nigeria to learn something from the climate change talk, that would benefit the nation because knowledge brings about change and development. He noted that Nigerians present at the conference represent different stakeholders and audience and should take something back to the people.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Climate Change could affect Tourism


With increasing of sea level rise tourist sites such as beaches in some parts of the world could be lost. The recent "Hurricane Sandy" affected some beaches in the United States.

In Lagos Nigeria, Okun Alpha Community has continues to experience increasing shoreline erosion that is reducing the size of the beach in the area. The community host the popular Alpha-Beach in Lekki but now, it is a ghost of itself as funseekers barely visit the beach. This has affected the socio-economic activities in and around the beach community. Also recently in Lagos, Kuramo Beach experienced an ocean surge that left about twenty people dead. The beach has since been closed and businesses paralysed.

Towards ensuring preservation and sustainance of coastal areas, a project is ongoing to avoid further damage to coastal communities and sites.

The Collaborative Actions for Sustainable Tourism (COAST) Project is a five-year project in its fourth year of implementation. It is a Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded Project with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as the implementing agency; United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as executing agency in partnership with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The COAST Project aims to demonstrate and support adoption of best practice approaches for sustainable tourism that reduces the degradation of marine and coastal environments of trans-boundary significance. This is through supporting and enhancing the conservation of globally significant coastal and marine ecosystems and associated biodiversity in Sub-Saharan Africa, through the reduction of the negative environmental impacts which they receive as a result of coastal tourism.

Geoffrey Omedo,Knowledge Management and Communication Officer,UNIDO COAST Project during a visit to Lagos said the project would help preserve coastal sites thereby encouraging tourism. He pointed out that tourism as a source of revenue for some countries is been lost, as tourist beaches continues to be eroded due to shoreline erosion.

According to him UNIDO through the COAST Project is working on a demo site in Badagry, a coastal community in Lagos Nigeria. Badagry is an ancient town that played a significant role in Nigeria's history in the past.

Tourism is a source of revenue generation for some countries and also livelihood for residents within the areas that have been affected due to the effect of sea-level rise, he added.

Sapele Central Hospital: Compromising Government’s Free Maternal Care



Having identified poverty as a major societal problem and its tendency to deny people access to quality medical care, Delta state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, a medical doctor by profession, enunciated a number of free and qualitative healthcare programmes for the benefit of all Deltans including women and children.

Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan took over the mantle of leadership of the state at a time when the nation’s health indices were at precarious levels with its negative multiplier effects on the health status of Deltans as evident in the high rate of maternal and child mortality as well as declining life expectancy rate. Given this unpleasant health development, the Governor quickly translated his eagerness to enhance the health status of Deltans into the formulation and implementation of people centered health policies and programmes. Notable among these policies were the free maternal, free under-five and rural healthcare schemes.

In line with the determination of Dr. Uduaghan’s government to ensure that these laudable health programmes achieved their desired results and were not in any way compromised by some health personnel and care givers, the Commissioner for Health Dr. Joseph Otumara, at inception of the schemes, undertook a tour of all the secondary health facilities in the state to sensitize the medical personnel on the programs and the dos and don’ts governing them. He never failed to emphasize at every point, how dear they were to the governor.

The Governor also under took the proactive measure of expanding, re-equipping and enhancing the capacity of the medical staff of the hospitals in order for them to be able to withstand the challenges that would result from anticipated influx of people living in Delta and neighbouring states as a result of the free healthcare programmes.
It is sad to note, however, that despite the measures put in place to ensure that the schemes, especially the free maternal and under-five healthcare were easily accessed by those they were intended free of charge, women are forced to pay different kinds of fees at some of the government health facilities across the state for pre-natal, delivery and post-natal services.

Investigations have revealed that these sharp practices are common at the state government owned secondary health facilities. In some of these hospitals, pregnant women and parents of under-five children are made to part with some money for the purchase of clinical items ranging from drugs to bandages, soap, disinfectant, tissue papers and even fuel for the hospitals’ alternative source of power supply.

Several reports of brisk business by some health workers and other unwholesome activities to undermine these novel healthcare programmes have been made in the past to which the commissioner of health responded by sanctioning the perpetrators. However, the development has continued unabated in some of these hospitals.
This article was informed by the ordeal of a pregnant woman of Delta state extraction in the hands of some health personnel at the Sapele General hospital who went to the hospital for delivery.

The lady in her first pregnancy had earlier registered for her antenatal service at the General hospital, Akuku-Igbo where she is resident. While in her foster mother’s place in Sapele on a visit, she went into labour. She went to Central Hospital, Sapele on October 17, 2012 and was admitted the same day.

The first surprise hit her when she was asked to pay the sum of N1, 800 for the same tests she had earlier undergone free of charge at Akuku-Igbo General Hospital. She presented her Akuku-Igbo General Hospital maternity card and informed them that the tests ought to be free but the laboratory attendant insisted on the payment. Even after one of the matrons told them the implication of the illegal collection, the laboratory attendant insisted she must pay. Because she was already in a precarious condition, she had to pay. However, she insisted on getting a receipt for the payment and they reluctantly gave her.

She was directed to purchase most of the prescribed drugs outside the hospital. For every examination carried out on her by the nurses, she paid the sum of of #120 for hand gloves. On October 18, which was the next day, at about 9pm, her labour pain became severe. She was asked to provide money for fuel to power the generator as there was power outage by the public power supplier (PHCN). All her pleadings to the nurses on duty to attend to her while she sent for her foster mother fell on deaf ears.
Since she had no money on her at the time, she put a call across to her foster mother, a 70 year old woman and informed her of the development. The old woman was able to get some litres of fuel from the black market as the filling stations had closed for the day’s business. The nurses on duty could not contain their anger when the old woman emerged with a gallon of fuel. They collected the gallon of fuel from her but not before letting her know that she ought to have provided the money for it. The woman in labour was asked to pay #1,000 as the Jik (sterilizer) which they had bought was not the giant one. She pleaded with #500 which they collected.

The old woman was locked out of the maternity ward despite the heavy down pour that night for buying fuel instead of giving them money in lieu. She said that all she could do was to resort to prayers for the safety of her daughter. At about 1a.m, she got the news that her daughter had delivered safely. The old woman was hoping that the nurses would allow her entrance into the maternity ward as her daughter would soon come back to the ward from the labor room, not knowing that she was in for a long wait.

Mother and baby were detained at the labour ward for several hours as the nurses insisted that she paid the sum of N2, 000 before she could be allocated a bed in the maternity ward. She was detained in the labour room, made to lie on the bare delivery table with her baby in the dark room despite the fuel they provided from 1a.m to 6a.m when her worried old step mother put a call across to one of the matrons at the maternity ward, who ordered the immediate release of the woman and her baby.

The lady narrated that at intervals, when the labour pain became so severe, she would plead with the nurse to come and check on her but each time she begged she got a scolding and a stern warning from the nurse that she should stop disturbing her sleep. “I had to resort to calling “Jesus! Jesus!” each time the labour pang mounts.

The only consolation she got was from a doctor who heard her cry and took pity on her. She said that the doctor came and requested her to be patient and do whatever they ask her to do that in no distant time she would deliver. She explained that at a point she noticed that the baby’s head was already out, so she called on the nurse who shouted back to her to lie sideways that it was not time yet. She said that as she lay sideways, she discovered that the baby was struggling as if it was being strangled. She quickly laid flat on her back and began to cry out with a loud voice, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Help me! Help me!”

It was at that point, the nurse came and with just a little push, the baby and placenta came out at once. She said, “If I was not a beneficiary of the free maternal care at the General Hospital, Akuku-Igbo, I would have become a critique of the state government’s free maternal healthcare programme because of the way I was treat in Sapele General Hospital. Governor Uduaghan has tried but human beings are frustrating his efforts”.

When contacted the Chief Medical Director, Dr. (Mrs.) Omo-Aghoja, she condemned the actions of the nurses and other health workers involved and said that she would not take it lightly as she would set up a panel to investigate the report and that everyone found wanting would be sanctioned. She said that maternal care at the hospital is free in accordance with the health policies of the state government, adding that only in caesarian cases where patients may be requested to buy drugs that are out of stock from outside.

Delta state government meant well for the people but certain human factors at the point of delivering these services sabotage all the efforts. It may interest you to know that these saboteurs are most focal in criticizing government policies and magnifying perceived failures.

This Story was written by By Rosemary Nwaebuni from the Media Advocay Group on the MDG Acceleration in Nigeria. She is based in Delta State Nigeria.

REDUCING CLIMATE RISKS IN AFRICA THROUGH SCIENCE AND INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES


The realities of Climate Change effect in Africa and Nigeria is glaring, and urgent steps are needed to curb the negative impact it is having in the region. President Goodluck Jonathan stated this during in his opening speech at the 8th Annual Meeting of the Africa Academy of Science AMASA- EIGHT held in Lagos.

The theme of the Conference “Climate Change in Africa: Using Science to Reduce the Climate Risks” according to President Jonathan is in line with the believe that science is a tool to proffer solutions to challenges affecting man. Sustainable management of natural resources, biofuel production and clean energy initiatives are key areas that provide investment opportunities in Africa.

In his words “Science cannot be ignored. It continues to assume greater importance in todays society. Science is essential for human security, prosperity, health and environment.

A member of the Africa Development Bank ADB Dr Anthony Nyong pointed out that there are diverse investment opportunities in Africa that would help reduce the risks associated with the effect of climate change which has continued to increase the level of poverty in the region.

He urged African leaders to invest in the energy sector by harnessing clean energy sources of renewable energy such as solar and wind.
He added that the amount of solar energy available in Africa can lift the region out of its energy poverty level which has made most people living in Africa to be without source of power. “The renewable energy sources are clean and would not increase carbon emission”.


In attracting the investments in climate technology African leaders need to address policy and regulatory barriers, provide accurate and current data that investors would be able to plan and work.
Though Africa receives the lowest proportion of finance for adaptation but by mainstreaming climate factors into development issues this would help reduce the risk associated with climate change in the continent.

The host of the conference Professor Oye -Ibidapo-Obe stressed that Africans are the ones that can solve the Africa problem and through science this can be achieved. According to him the known world powers were able to attain the level of development they have because they invested in the area of research and development.
He appealed to African leaders to allocate fund judiciously for research and development in their budget to enable scientists and researchers undertake ground breaking findings that would enhance development. “It is sad that African scientists and researchers have to largely depend on aids and grants from foreign donors before they can carry out research. Africa is blessed enough to invest in research and development.

Professor Ibidapo-Obe said the Eighth Annual Meeting of the African Academy of Science (AMASA 8) is organised to bring stakeholders to focus on the occurrence of climate change in Africa and its impact on public health and food security, to advocate for an inclusive science based agenda on adaptation to, and mitigation of climate risks in Africa. Also to initiate a process for the long term engagement of African science academies with their governments and relevant stakeholders on climate change issues, and to discuss ways to mobilize finance for climatic effects in Africa.

In a joint statement by the African Science Academies from the fourteen member countries titled “ raising the African voice” the African Academies called on governments in Africa and the Africa Union to provide and increase support for scientific research on climate change, and foster a continuing engagement with national science Academies for providing technical advice on climate change.

The Nineth edition of the conference would be held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia in November, 2013.

Youths and Science Development

Like most Nigerian teenagers who have dreams and ambition after secondary school to further their education. That is the story of Miss Oluwashayo Elubode. Miss Elubode is a young and aspiring agronomist I met when I visited International Institute of Tropical Agricultural IITA, Ibadan in company of the Youth Voices for Small Scale Farmers who came on tour the Institute. Twenty nine years old Miss Oluwashayo Elubode wanted to study nursing at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology LAUTECH Ogbomosho Osun State but was rather offered Agronomic. Reason been the nursing department had reached it maximum number of applicants to be absorbed into the department that year. Miss Elubode explained that she was disappointed but decided to visit the Head of Department of Agronomy who told her what agronomic meant. According to her "when i was offered the course, i did not know or even heard of the word agronomic". After the brief lecture by the HOD I was able to understand what the course was about subsequently after five years of studying agronomic, I was glad I did. I saw a young lady who was happy doing what she was doing what she was doing.
Miss Elubode said after her youth service year she applied for work experience at IITA to broaden her knowledge and prepare her for further research towards her post-graduate studies as she plans to specialise on agronomic. She described agronomic as the backbone of agriculture as research in agronomic when applied brings about innovative ways of boosting agriculture production.

At the cassava unit in IITA where she is undergoing a six-month training, she highlighted the vast potentials in cassava which is pointed out to be the next big boom in the country. In her words: cassava is a food security crop that is able to transform the economy of Nigeria. It is well known that Nigeria is the largest producerof cassava in the world. All environmental factors that can boost maximum yield of cassava is available in Nigeria. That is why IITA is undertaken alots of research in cassava such as improved varities like the Beta-carotene fortified casssava. The days that cassava is regarded only as a source of carbohydrate are gone. Improved varieties now have vitamins and proteins. There is yellow garri which in the past you have to add palm oil to produce a yellow garri which is more expensive due to the addition of palm oil. Miss Elubode maintained that through cassava a green revolution in the agricultural sector can be achieved. Cassava is a staple food in most homes in Nigeria either processed as garri for eba, fufu, lafu. she urged those into large scale production in the manufacturing industry to embrace cassava and use it as a by-product. if more cassava flour is used in the production of bread this would impact on the income and livelihood of small scale farmers.

Lots of money is used to import wheat flour into this country for bread production. There is cassava fortified with Vitamins that can be processed as flour and use to bake bread and other pasteries. she maintained that cassava flour would add value to bread production and appealed to large scale bakers to introduced cassava flour in these production. I am an agronomist and used still be carried out more research into this wonderful crop called cassava. it is the next big thing to happen to Nigeria, she added. she encouraged more youths to come into agriculture. i am glad i am able to contribute my quota to national development. if the youth dont see agriculture as a way of life very soon the old farmers who are growing weak and old would be no more. Does it mean we would no longer eat in this country? she asked. The youths have the energy and idea. We are the ones to bring back the past glory Nigeria achieved through agriculture. That means now we can do better with science and research. I appeal to Nigerian youths to engage aggresively in agriculture because there are vast potential in this sector. Miss Elubode bemoans the gradual switch in science education, as young entrants into higher institutions prefer other courses but she expressed optimism that through science alots can be transformed in the country.

Also a young lecturer at Nasarawa state University Mr Tunde Taiwo who studied for his Post-graduate research at IITA decried the neglect in the area of science. Mr Taiwo noted that science research in Nigeria is not receiving adequate attention and funding. He said the specialised higher institutions in the country like Universities of Technology and Agriculture are gradually becoming conventional universities. There are only three universities of agriculture in Nigeria: Abeokuta, Umudike, Makurdi but because of revenue generation more non-sciene courses are been introduced into these schools. Mr Taiwo called for more support by the government and corporate organisation in the area of science education and development. According to him I am about going to the United Kingdom UK for my doctorate degree because there is no enough research materials in my area of interest. I believe in the UK there would be well equipped laboratories and not a case where I would be choked with theories and few practicals. Nigerians are intelligent and do well when they go abroad to study because of the enabling education environment.

The recently presented 2013 budget shows that the education sector has a good allocation from the budget. The sucess of this budget would be if the fund are appropriately disbursed in the relevant areas where they are needed and proper monitoring of its use. Experts in the education sector identified corruption as a challenge to judiciously use of funds designated for development of education. The attainment of some of the Millenium Development Goals MDG as agreed by member countries of the United Nations by 2015 would be achieved if more proactive measures are put in place to encourage science education and research in the country.


This Story was published on www.environewsnigeria.com under agriculture category

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

United Nation International Day Against Domestic Violence

An advocacy group has advised the male-folk to work towards the eradication of domestic violence, particularly harmful attacks on women.


The Co-ordinator of Beyond the Classroom Foundation a non-governmental organization Miss Raquel Jacob stated this during a road walk to create awareness on the ills of domestic violence held in Lagos.


Miss Jacobs said domestic violence against the female gender should not be allowed to be a norm that is accepted because it is against civilization.


According to her the campaign to end abuse against women was necessary to highlight the plights of women and girls as such cases are now on the increase.

The walk tagged: 'Youths against Violence and Abuse' started at the University of Lagos UNILAG, reaching out to its environs, and terminating at the take off point.

The initiative was to commemorate the United Nation’s 'International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women' which holds every 25th of November.


Participants at the events includes Youth, professionals from various fields of work, coordinators of Chamagne Foundation, Community Empowerment for Peace and Health, World Youth Alliance( Nigeria), University of Lagos Faculty Presidents, and the press corps.



As the walk progressed, residents of Bariga Lagos were sensitized on the dangers of Violence and Abuse on Women and Girls; short counselling sessions for various group of gathering took place, with special attention given to residents who confessed to being victims of abuse.


The participants carried placards reading ‘No to Gender Based Violence’, ‘Protect HER, Please Protect HER’, ‘Say No to Violence and Abuse’; they wore shirts carrying similar messages such as ‘Violence and Abuse is Wrong’, ‘Protect Her, Don’t Abuse Her’ and distributed handbills along the way.


It is the hope of the coordinator of the project, Ms. Raquel Jacobs that men and the society in general would recognise how to care for the female gender and not abuse her psychologically, emotionally and physically.

The walk is a series of part of Beyond the Classroom Foundation’s campaign to end Abuse against Women, Its HandsUp for the Girl Project also recently organised an event for the Day of the Girl to shine a spotlight on the plight of women and girls.


The road walk had participants from different youth’s groups and short counseling sessions were held to educate victims on ways to avoid being abused.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Burkina Faso Receives Funding for Sanitation Project



Representatives of various local, regional and international development agencies and from different levels of Government met in Ouagadougou to discuss the funding of a sanitation project in the peri-urban areas of Ouagadougou, estimated at €138 million (FCFA 90.5 billion). This project should be completed by 2017 and is expected to improve the lives of an estimated one million people living in the most vulnerable areas of the city.

The donor roundtable was organized by Ouagadougou’s City Council to mobilize the necessary funds for the construction of the planned infrastructure. The project was the subject of feasibility studies funded by the African Water Facility (AWF) which provided €647,000, covering 88 per cent of the costs of the preparatory work completed in August 2011.


“We are proud to be associated with this initiative and confident in the leadership of the City to carry out such an important and promising project,” said Akissa Bahri, Coordinator of the African Water Facility. “We hope the financial partners will also support this project, which should benefit a wide range of citizens, including youth, women and the poorest people of the suburbs, providing them with a better living environment.”


The African Development Bank has already committed to funding the project up to €26 million (FCFA 17 billion) to begin the works as early as 2013, adding to the €8 million (FCFA 5 billion ) committed by the Government of Burkina Faso, and the €1.5 million (FCFA 1 billion) invested by the Municipality of Ouagadougou. The City is now seeking to fill the €103 million (FCFA 67.5 billion) gap with other financial partners, most of whom expressed interest in the project during the roundtable stage.


The project is of paramount importance to Ouagadougou, in light of the tragic flood of September 1, 2009, which left thousands homeless. The City hopes to implement a sanitation system resilient to the increasingly devastating floods capital has been recurrently facing in recent years due to climate change.


Aside from the AWF and African Development Bank (AfDB), other agencies were represented at the meeting including the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the French Development Agency, the German Development Bank (KfW), the Islamic Development Bank, OFID (former Fund of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), UN-Habitat, WaterAid, Water and Sanitation Agency Africa, the West African Development Bank and the World Bank.


Burkina Faso and the City of Ouagadougou are important partners of the African Water Facility. Moreover, Burkina Faso recently joined the group of donors of the African Water Facility by making a contribution of €80,000. This contribution demonstrates the country’s commitment to promoting the development of the water sector both at home and across the continent.



The project is expected to improve the lives of an estimated one million people living in the most vulnerable areas of the city




African Water Facility (AWF)

The AWF is an initiative of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB), established in 2004 as a Special Water Fund to help African countries achieve the objectives of the Africa Water Vision 2025. The AWF offers grants from €50,000 to €5 million to support projects aligned with its mission and strategy to a wide range of institutions and organizations operating in Africa. Its three strategic priority activities are: (1) preparing investment projects to mobilise investment funds for projects supported by AWF; (2) enhancing water governance to create an environment conducive for effective and sustainable investments; (3) promoting water knowledge for the preparation of viable projects and informed governance leading to effective and sustainable investments. Since 2006, AWF has funded 73 national and regional projects in 50 countries, including in Africa’s most vulnerable states. It has mobilised more than €532 million as a result of its project preparation activities, which constitute 70 per cent of its portfolio. On average, each €1 contributed by the AWF has attracted €20 in additional follow-up investment.


The AWF is entirely funded by Algeria, Australia, Austria, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Burkina Faso, Canada, Denmark, the European Commission, France, Norway, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the African Development Bank

Solar Energy: German Government partners with Katsina State


The German Ambassador to Nigeria Mrs. Janetzke-Wenzel visited Katsina state to pave the way for solar plant as a source of energy in the state. She was accompanied
by high-ranking German economic representatives. Together with the Governor of
Katsina, His Excellency Dr. Ibrahim Shehu Shema, the ambassador launched the planning
phase for a solar power plant in a ceremony well-attended by many representatives of the state government. The power plant is part of the German-Nigerian Energy
Partnership and will have a capacity of 30 MegaWatt. Construction of the plant is scheduled to commence in 2013.

In their speeches the Ambassador and Katsina State Governor stressed that with the power plant, which will be manufactured in collaboration with a renowned German company, Katsina state would receive environmentally clean and reliable electricity. The Governor expressed optimism that power plant project would boost socio-economic activities in the Katsina.

Solar energy has been advocated by many environmentalists as a clean source of energy that would help reduce over dependence on other sources of energy that increases carbon emission.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

German Foreign Minister visits Abuja


The German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Guido Westerwelle, will visit the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2nd to 3rd November 2012.

Abuja is the third leg of the German Minister’s trip to West Africa. He had previously visited Senegal and Mali.

During his visit, Dr. Westerwelle will be meeting the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Foreign Minister Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru.

The talks will focus on bilateral and regional issues. The foreign ministers of both countries will conduct a plenary meeting of the German-Nigerian binational commission.

The German foreign minister will also hold discussions with the ECOWAS Secretariat. In
addition, Dr. Westerwelle will meet with Christian and Muslim religious leaders.

This is a way of strengthen ties between both countries and which is in line with the eighth Millennium Development Goal MDG's that is developing global partnership for development.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

HURRICANE SANDY: BEYOND BORDERS


Hurricane Sandy which is the latest hurricane ravaging the United States since on the 30th of October is speculated to have an across border effect on the Lagos coastlines. This was the position of the Lagos State Commissioner for Waterfront Prince Segun Oniru who addressed newsmen in Lagos, that in about a week or two the effect of the hurricane would be experienced in some coastal communities in the state. This he said was based on past “experience, records and study of past happenings”.


I visited Okun-Alfa community as a usual routine I do, since I discovered how the areas was been affected by sea-level rise and shoreline erosion. Okun-Alfa is coastal community along the Lagos coastline and hosts the once popular beach known as Alpha Beach in Eti-osa area of Lagos. The area in the last five years has witnessed increasing level of shoreline erosion and has resulted in eroded road, loss of properties, dilapidated basic infrastructure, and pollution of underground water, among others. The only health care centre in the area has long been abandoned as the workers fear for their lives and also the area has been without power supply because the electrical poles has been washed by the Atlantic ocean. The Alpha Beach which used to be a place where tourists and fun-seekers visit, most especially during festive period is now a ghost of itself due to the erosion along its shoreline.


While assessing the level of the erosion I jokingly told the community leader of the area, what if Hurricane should happen what will the people do and he replied that such could not happen. The first thought I had when I learnt of the anticipated effect of Hurricane Sandy on the Lagos coastline was, how would these residents cope if it should happen?
But what if it happens. Is it the same approach that was greeted by the ravaging flood which has rendered hundreds of thousand Nigerians homeless, which would be used for the Hurricane? Are there plans to relocate residents of the areas that might likely be affected to safer grounds or is it still the same relocate because we are expecting Hurricane Sandy/Naija?


Governor Fashola while presenting the 2013 budget to the House of Assembly which is about #500 Billion allocated the highest share to security and environment sector. I believe in relation to environment been allocated more funds is based on the fact, that the effect of climate change among other environmental challenges are becoming more glaring than in the past when it was believed that it could only happen abroad and not Nigeria. But I believe we are convinced now more than ever before, that Nigeria is also having her share of the global effect of climate change.


In as much we are known to be very religious and use the slogan “it is well” to console ourselves during trying times, it would be in the interest of the people for the relevant government authorities to begin to make plans for the un-expected should in case the prediction turns out to be true.

ARE WE PREPARED FOR HURRICANE NAIJA?


For weeks there have been speculations about the Hurricane Sandy in the United States. Among states that were expected to be hit by the hurricane is New York and Washington. Residents living in these cities have being put on the alert with regular alert messages about the direction of the hurricane. Also most of them have been evacuated with thousands of schedule flights cancelled, public buildings closed to avert the unexpected.

The US governments have even made plans believing the anticipated hurricane could affect the forthcoming Presidential election in the country. This shows that they are not waiting to be taken unaware by the Hurricane Sandy.

On the 18th of August 2012, Kuramo Beach in Lagos Nigeria experienced an ocean surge in the early hours of that day. After which about twenty persons were killed as the ocean washed them away while they were asleep. The first step the Lagos State Government took was to demolish and evacuate residents and business operators from the area. In the words of a state official Dr. Femi Oke-osayintolu they were illegal occupants and should leave immediately. But the displaced people expressed disappointment that they were evicted without any alternative place to relocate to because they maintained that they pay rent for occupying the place. The people said the government was aware that they were occupying the place but now turned around to term them illegal occupants without any plan for them.

Were the relevant government agencies not aware that a storm or surge was approaching the Lagos coastline? The most residents of Lagos heard were about the heavy rainfalls that the state would experience. The flood also came and devastated most parts of the country with lives and properties destroyed. Also the bulk passing continued with the Federal Government blaming the Cameroun Government for releasing water from her dam which subsequently flooded the country. Were the relevant agencies not aware about the dams in the neighbouring country and the effect of the water in Nigeria when released?

It is time for the Federal Government to build and strengthening the capacity of relevant agencies that are involved in rescue and disaster management. The continous falling of oil tankers on the major highways across the country with most of them filled with petroleum product is like a time bomb displayed for public consumption. The Ahoada, Lagos-Ibadan expressway are still fresh in our minds as lives were lost as petroleum product spilled on the road and some unfortunate people scooped the fuel but did not live to tell the story.

How prepared are we if Hurricane Sandy should approach our territorial waters?

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Food Sufficiency as a Social Right


For Food Security to be achieved in Nigeria government has to see access, availability and affordability of food as a constitutional right. The Project Manager, Feed Nigeria Initiative FENI, Mr. Adeola Soetan while speaking on this year’s theme for the World Food Day: “The Role of Co-operatives in ensuring food security, said through co-operative scheme among small scale farmers government can integrate the farmers into its programmes and policies. He highlighted the roles of extension officers who work with small scale farmers to sensitize them on happenings and how to improve their farming skills.

According to Mr. Soetan the need to increase budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector would boost agriculture in the country. The availability of loans to small scale farmers who are the major producers of food consumed in the country, Mr. Soetan stressed should be ensured as the bureaucracy in accessing loans from banks often times frustrate farmers. He believes that through proper aggregation of farmers across the country adequate data would be compiled to help build the capacity of farmers. Through capacity building, the farmers would be able to engage in mechanized farming, he added.

With regard to the right to food Mr. Soetan stated the case of Brazil and India, where the government provide food to millions of children and urged the Federal Government to address food provision as a social right. While explaining the importance of availability of food to the people, Mr. Soetan pointed out that a hungry man that is angry cannot be patriotic.

The United Nations charter of 1978 of which Nigeria is a signatory states food as a constitutional right. Mr. Soetan said access to food should be made a basic constitutional right of all Nigerians. Furthermore he observed that in states where food is provided to school children; it is done as though it is a charity initiative because subsequent administrations do not continue with such project when they assume office. Mr. Soetan called on the Federal Government to take advantage of the 150 million population of the country to boost food production to ensure food security.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

GOAL NIGERIA: Empowering the Girl-Child for the Future







Empowering the girl-child with basic skills is a way of preparing them for the future ahead and encouraging their participation in societal growth.

The National Co-ordinator GOAL Project Mrs. Iwalola Akin-Jimoh stated this during the graduation ceremony of the Girl-Child Life Skill programme held in Lagos.

Mrs Akin-Jimoh explained that forty girls each where selected from eight private and public schools in the state and this was the second phase of the project.


According to Mrs Akin-Jimoh more support for such project would go a long way in helping the nation achieve the third Millenieum Development Goal MDG which is promoting gender equality and empowering women.




The students who have been trained on the life skill project which lasted for a year said they were trained on negotiation and mediation, basic hygiene, finance and budget,communicating skills amongst others.

The GOAL project is been executed in Lagos state and the Federal Capital Abuja, with a total of six hundred and forty female students benefitting from the second phase















Wednesday, 17 October 2012

GEF Launches 2020 Strategy Effort to Focus on Long-Term Environmental Goals




The Global Environment Facility is launching an effort to develop a "GEF 2020 Strategy," setting long-term goals for the environment and positioning the financing institution as an innovator and partner of choice in supporting the achievement of global environmental targets,

GEF CEO Naoko Ishii gave the remark at the opening high-level negotiating session of environment ministers from around the world gathering at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP11) which is holding in southern India.

In her words: "We need to be catalytic in building our respective strengths and prioritizing the precious resources at our disposal. That is why it is so important that we at the GEF make use of our strategic position in helping all of you in the quest to mobilize the necessary resources," Dr. Ishii said. "To fulfill our role in meeting these bold commitments, I am pleased to announce today that I am launching a process to formulate a new long-term strategy for the GEF – the GEF 2020 Strategy."



In the context of the biodiversity negotiations, Dr. Ishii assured delegates to the Convention that the GEF Strategy would be in concert with the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets and align with the guidance the GEF receives from the CBD COP. The meeting in Hyderabad is particularly important, she said, in the context of the targets identified at the 10th CBD COP in 2010, which met in Nagoya, capital of the Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

The Aichi Targets lay out a 10-year plan to develop policies worldwide aimed at protecting endangered species and threatened ecosystems, expanding protected areas, and promoting a broader understanding of the economic value of biodiversity. The CBD at Nagoya also committed to generate funding to support the Targets.

Dr. Ishii was joined in the high-level meeting by Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development; Jayanthi Natarajan, India's Minister of Environment and Forests and Chair of the COP; and Rebeca Grynspan, Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.

"Over the 20 years of the CBD's lifetime, we have learned – through long and often hard experience – that good nature conservation is possible. It can also be affordable and cost-effective as well as beneficial to poor communities when it's done right," said the World Bank's Kyte. "To do it right – especially in an era of diminishing public expenditures for biodiversity conservation – we need innovation, communication, and effective partnerships between governments, communities, financial institutions, companies and conservation organizations."

Dr. Ishii began her tenure as the fourth CEO and Chairperson of the GEF on August 1st after being unanimously selected by the GEF Council last June. The announcement of the GEF 2020 Strategy process follows the release of her Vision Statement in which Dr. Ishii laid out her broad goals for the GEF in its role as the leading environmental financing institution in the international community.

"The Strategy will further emphasize GEF's role as a risk-taking innovator, a partner of choice of those sharing the same goals, and a champion of the benefits provided by a healthy environment at the local, regional, and global levels. We will promote the valuation of natural capital to be integrated in decision making at all levels as a unifying theme," Dr. Ishii said.

"For the first time, we have a set of ambitious targets for biodiversity that has been fully agreed to, and we have a decision by the parties to start mobilizing the needed resources at all levels," Dr. Ishii said. "This COP must bring these two key decisions closer together."

In biodiversity, as well as in the other environmental areas where the GEF provides support – including climate change, forest preservation and international waters – Dr. Ishii said the GEF's long-term strategy must focus on scaling up programs to achieve global impact.

"Incremental gains will not suffice if we are to reach the year 2020 able to count on natural capital as the foundation of sustainable development," Dr. Ishii said. "I firmly believe that the Aichi Targets provide us with the framework to help us achieve that."

Talks at the CBD COP, is placing a heavy emphasis on financing biodiversity programs worldwide, and concludes later this week.

WORLD FOOD DAY

The official World Food Day theme, announced each spring by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), gives focus to World Food Day observances and raises awareness and understanding of approaches to ending hunger.



The theme of this year celebration “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world” was chosen to highlight the role of cooperatives in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger.



Interest in cooperatives and rural organizations is also reflected in the decision of the UN General Assembly to designate 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives.



Globally, nearly 870 million people (one in eight) are suffering from hunger and chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012, with 98 per cent of this number living in developing countries and 27 per cent to be found in Africa.


This year’s celebration comes at a critical juncture when a part of the continent is recovering from the devastation wrought by the drought in the Horn of Africa, and the Sahel braces for severe food shortages in the coming months.


In Nigeria vast farmlands have been washed away be the ravaging flood that started in the northern parts of the country three months ago. The National Co-ordinator Small Scale Agro-producers Mr Charles Yerima, maintained that adequate support to small scale farmers who are the main producers of food consumed in Nigeria was necessary to help the farmers return back to the farm. According to him farnmers in the North-Central had cases of matured food crops that were destroyed by the flood as the farmers did not have enough time to commence pre-mature harvest.


Also the Executive Project Manager of Feed Nigeria Initiative Mr Adeola Soetan said for food security to be achieved in Nigeria the government need to address food provision as a social welfare issue. He urged the government to carry along small scale farmers in it programmes and policies in the agricultural sector as this would go a long way in ensuring food sufficiency in the country.


It is clear that the role of cooperatives and community organizations are critical in the fight for food security in Africa. Cooperatives satisfy their members’ needs while pursuing profit and sustainability. They are often a key institution in rural life and for the marketing of farmer inputs and produce. Cooperatives are also crucial for fostering democracy and good governance at the local level.



With increasing threats to the use of Africa’s natural resource base and the growing foreign direct investment in land in the continent, cooperatives can play a significant role in defending farmer interest in the long term by fostering sustainable agricultural practices that ensure these natural resource assets are safe for future generations.



The African Development Bank, through its agriculture, governance and private sector departments, is well placed to support the renaissance of the cooperative movement towards truly profit seeking entities working for agricultural transformation in Africa.



The Bank undertakes to channel, where feasible, the use of local development funds in projects and programs through existing and credible agricultural cooperatives on the continent.

Global Handwashing Day




This year, Global Handwashing Day shares its fifth birthday with more than 121 million children worldwide who are also turning five this year. According to Dr. Michael Ojo, Country Representative of WaterAid in Nigeria, however, “Sadly, too many children in Nigeria still die every year before their fifth birthday as a result of diarrhoea and other diseases related to unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation and hygiene.



Dr Ojo said lack of access to the simple measures such as handwashing with soap which can help prevent diarrhoea, pneumonia, and other diseases has stopped many children from reaching their 5th birthday.”



According to him as handwashing with soap has an important role to play in child survival and health as well as being a cost-effective intervention that drastically reduces the incidence of diarrhoea and respiratory infections among children under five, the theme for this year’s Global Handwashing Day: "Help More Children Reach Their 5th Birthday" couldn’t be more fitting



In his words "Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths. Yet, despite its lifesaving potential, handwashing with soap is seldom practiced and difficult to promote".



In many developing countries, it is not the lack of soap that is usually the barrier – with the vast majority of poor households having soap in the home – rather, the problem is that soap is rarely used for handwashing. Creating lasting behaviour change and ensuring that handwashing with soap becomes a social norm, are key components of hygiene and sanitation programmes worldwide.



Dr Ojo pointed out that each year, various stakeholders commemorate the day and promote the practice of handwashing with soap. But every year the story remains the same: thousands of Nigeria’s precious children continue to die needlessly from entirely preventable diseases that are water-borne or as a result of effective sanitation and poor hygiene practices.



He believes that turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhoea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter. A vast change in handwashing behaviour is critical to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015.



Further more Dr Ojo said in celebrating the day as done around the world, it would be necessary to take actions to promote handwashing with soap and also promote long-term behaviour change throughout the year and as a crucial part of everyday life. As we commemorate the important practice of handwashing, the call is for us to come alive to our responsibilities – our responsibility to join hands (Clean Hands!) to promote awareness about the simple, affordable and yet life-saving practice of handwashing.




To this end the WaterAid Country Director called for joint efforts in promoting handwashing beginning with homes, offices, shops, compounds and street. Let us save our homes, children and our beloved Nation. The health and well being of the people of this great country is the foundation for economic growth and sustainable development.

This year, WaterAid in Nigeria will be commemorating Global Handwashing Day aimed at raising awareness and funds to support the promotion of hygiene and the provision of sanitation facilities.


Global Handwashing Day which is celebrated on the 15th of October, has grown from a one-day celebration in a few cities to a worldwide movement that has mobilized significant investment in and political support for handwashing with soap.

Our life is in our hands. Please wash your hands and live.

GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL BEGINS IN LAGOS

The German Embassy would be organising the German Film Festival which will take place from 22nd October until 26th October at the Silverbird Cinema in Abuja. The Film screening begins at 7 pm daily.

There will be five German Comedies.
You will find intelligent entertainment with sharp dialogues and black humor. You will get an impression about present German social life from the funniest perspective.

On the occasion of the opening of the German Film Festival at the Silverbird Cinema

on Monday, 22 October 2012, cocktail will be offered from 6 p.m., prior to the opening film.

You are cordially invited to participate!

Spend your evening at the German Film Festival.

Young Voices for Small Scale Farmers: YV4SSF



In a bid to promoting youth centre activities in raising awareness and mobilizing public support for food security and livelihood protection, about thirty youths residing in the six states were selected to participate in an agriculture-based programme.

The youths from various background were camped in Oshogbo the Osun State capital and the programme was tagged Young Voices for Small Scale Farmers.
As part of events for the programme the youths visited International Institute for Tropical Agriculture IITA Ibadan, Osun Farm Settlement, Epe Fishing Community Afuye-Epe, Nigeria Institute of Marine Research and Oceanography Lagos, Osun State House of Assembly.

During a lecture on the power of the internet, a Youth activist and environmentalist, Mr. Zaid Shopeju encouraged the youths to create a buzz on the internet about the programme by using different social media platforms to share happenings with their friends and the world.

Mr Shopeju explained that the power of the internet can cause change when applied for the right cause. In a practical session some of the youths were introduced and made to open an account wit facebook, twitter, YouTube and also start their blog. A twitter hash tag #YV4SSF was created and the youth tweeted daily happenings to the world about the programme.


The Deputy Director Partnership and Capacity building at IITA Dr. Kenton Dashiell while receiving the youth, expressed optimism that the next level of change and development that would emerge from the Agricultural sector would be based on youth- led initiatives. Dr Dashiell pointed out that young, educated and smart people were needed to engage in Agriculture as Agriculture is not a profession that should be downgraded. He urged the youths to join the large number of small scale farmers who are the major producers of food consumed in Nigeria. Dr Dashiell maintained that hunger and poverty can be totally eradicated in the country , if more young people with skills and initiative engage in agriculture and express support of IITA to partner with the youths for future development.

On tour the cassava processing unit on IITA, the site supervisor Mr Smith Ikpan spoke extensively on different researches, strategies been formulated to better develop improved varieties of cassava. In his words "it is a known practice in Nigeria that to produce yellow-coloured garri that palm-oil is required to be added but Mr Ikpan said an improved cassava variety has been produced by the Institute. Mr Ikpan said the Beta-Carotene fortified cassava when processed into garri is normally yellow with no need for palm-oil addition. This he stressed saves money, adds value and is nutrient fortified. Also he asked the youth if they have ever seen or known that cassava has seeds? The youths were suprised to see the seeds of cassava as they collected some to show their family and friends.

The youths were also taken to the Osun farm settlement in Oshogbo to speak and interview farmers. One of the farmers Pa. Isaiah Oladejo a seventy-seven year old mechanised farmer said they first came to the settlement in 1963. Pa Oladejo added that since then farming has become a way of life for him and he now manages fifty acres of land, where he cultivates different food crops. The farmer of over fifty years experience identified access to fertilizer and tractors as a major challenge facing the farmers in increasing their yield.

Pa Oladejo explained that farming requires passion and good sense of planning as a profession and encouraged the youths to come into it as most of they the present farmers are growing old and becoming weak to actively continue. According to him, the notion that agriculture does not sustain your livelihood is a lie. I have seven children who are all graduates and I catered for them through farming. One of my sons has joined me in farming and we make an average of #2 million annually from maize farming alone". Pa Oladejo appealed to the youth to stop considering themselves as unemployed and waiting endlessly for white collar jobs. According to him through farming, you will feed yourself, family and Nigeria. He praised the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo whose leadership as the Governor of the Old Western region led to the creation of Farm settlement across the region. Pa. Oladejo urged those in leadership position to initiate projects that would impact on the lives of their electorates. He called for issue-based and people focused leadership as he believed this would position the country on the right direction.

Osun State Commissioner for the Environment Professor Bukola Oyawoye while addressing the youths before they departed Oshogbo to Lagos for the continuation of the tour advised them to see agriculture as a solution to hunger, poverty, unemployment. Professor Oyawoye said when young people engage agriculture, Nigerians economy would grow and be among the top ten global powers.
The Co-ordinator of the programme and Project Executive Human and Environmental Agency HEDA, Mr. Sulaiman Arigbabu said it was time for young people to engage actively in programme and policies in the agricultural sector. Mr Arigbabu pointed out that Nigeria can regain past glory it achieved through agriculture in the days of the groundnut pyramid, cocoa, palm oil which boom the economy. He asked "Do you know the impact on food production if ten thousand Nigerian graduates engage in Agriculture? Experts in the agricultural sector posited that the nation's economy can be diversified if more support is given to young people to encourage their engagement in agriculture.

First International HIV/AIDS Conference in Nigeria

Parents have been advised to be more proactive in the fight against HIV and other health related issues.

According to the Executive Director Finance and Administration of Humanity Family Foundation (HUFFPED), Mrs. Adekemi Adeyeye, Parents need to be more informed about the causes and prevention of HIV,as these will go a long way in reducinging the spread of the virus.

While speaking at the International Conference on HIV and AIDS held in Lagos, Mrs Adeyeye said (HUFFPED) organised the programme to sensitise people on the need to be informed and take preventive measures against HIV.

She advises that Parents should be more familiar with their Children and give room for them to ask questions relating to HIV and AIDS. They should also understand that no child is too young for questions as we are in a modern times.

Mrs Adekemi however challenges the government to do more and fulfill its plans and policies that are geared towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, MDG.

The organiser explained that the need to focus on HIV/AIDS related issues resulted from a scene in a news where a young girl died due to HIV/AIDS and it dawned on them that if something was not done urgently more children could loss their lives.

Also Mr. Fredrick Adegboye a Journalist called media Organisations across the country to be careful in selecting the choice of words they use in writing stories about people living with HIV as it sometimes result in the stigmatization of HIV infected people.

He advises that the media should realize that stigma as a bane to all HIV/ AIDS intervention does not only affect the infected people, but create confusion in the society.

Recounting his ordeal as an HIV infected person, Mr. Adegboye recommended that Health-Workers should be more sensitised on their attitudes towards people living with Human Immuno Virus, because in many occasions, they receive stigma instead of treatment.

He said HIV should not be criminalized, as he called on religious-groups, corporate -organizations, individuals to relate politely with people living with HIV, so as to prevent them from having emotional breakdown.

However, Mr. Adegboye urged other people living with HIV to use their drugs as prescribed, and advises others who have not known their HIV status to go for test.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Flooding and Food Security in Lagos Due to the commercial nature of Lagos, there are few available lands for farming. This has resulted in food been brought in from other food producing states.

The recent flooding in Nigeria which has lasted over three months has washed away vast farmlands. This is gradually affecting food supply and prices in some markets in Lagos.



Agriculture is an important event in human history that allows for diversity.

In Nigeria most people tend to have apathy towards been associated with farming but for some farmers agriculture is the source of their livelihood.

A farmer of over fifty years experience Pa. Isaiah Oladejo, advised the youths to embrace agriculture because of its diverse opportunities.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Towards making energy available and affordable to all and sundry


A recent study by the International Centre for Energy and Environmental Development ICEED has called on the Federal Government to put a policy in place establish a national cooking energy programme and new national rural electrification programme under the power sector reform. Funding for rural electrification and cooking energy for poor people has declined over the years, and called on the Federal Government to Shown that without a new national programme on rural electrification and clean energy stoves the number of poor people in Nigeria will grow exponentially. The Executive Director of ICEED Mr. Ewah Eleri made this known recently during a programme, on Financing Pro-Poor Energy Access in Nigeria. Mr. Eleri said lack of clean energy for cooking in rural communities has continued to increase the level of deforestation in the country as rural dwellers depend largely on firewood for cooking. He noted that “ICEED and its partners are on a campaign that focuses on the silent energy crisis and the silent energy crisis is that of household not having access to save and affordable cooking energy. We have a situation where government has no plans and programmes or policies on cooking energy”. This is not acceptable, he added.

The over dependence of rural dwellers on firewood for cooking energy has continued to increase the level of deforestation in Northern Nigeria. According to a World Bank report, Nigeria has the largest number of death due to indoor air pollution from cooking with firewood. Mr. Eleri explained that the pro-poor energy financing campaign is calling on the Federal Government to provide adequate budget lines to expand rural electrification, significant resources to different agencies of government in the 2013 budget. Furthermore, he pointed out that Nigeria export more gas than is being used in the country. Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest exporters of cooking gas but the usage is poor at home due to poor distribution channel, lack of awareness about proper use of gas cylinders that have created fear and apathy and also high upfront cost of cylinders. The Federal Government should enlighten the people about safe usage of gas cylinders; it should also put in place standard safety measures and regulations and also subsidize the price of cylinders. According to him, Lagos state government has started that and the Federal Government can follow suit. The use of cooking gas should be encouraged by making available smaller mass of cylinders because not everyone can afford the 5kg gas cylinders. In line with what has been done with recharge cards, where you can purchase as low as #100 to #1,500. Cooking gas is environment friendly.

The Federal Government should stop the flaring of gas in the country and utilize it for household energy use for cooking. Mr. Eleri believes that the Vision 20:20, Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) and the transformation agenda of the present administration would be far from been achieved if the energy poverty in the country is not aggressively tackled with the right programmes and policies in place.






































Tuesday, 7 August 2012

THIRD MAINLAND BRIDGE MAINTENANCE: REDUCING CARBON AND MAXIMIZING PROFIT



When the Federal Government announced that the third mainland bridge would be closed to traffic for another round of maintenance that is to last five months i.e. July –November 2012, Lagos residents who work and live on the Lagos Island and its environs had severe agitation over anticipated hardship. The closure of the third mainland bridge can be used by the Lagos State Government to once again promote the Green-Lagos initiative intended to encourage Lagosians to make use of the BRT buses. Therefore there is urgent need for the State government to increase the number of these buses on the road. It has been observed that the number of cars plying the central business district on Lagos Island in recent times has reduced since the commencement of the third mainland bridge maintenance as well as traffic gridlock in the area and this saves people time that would have been lost due to traffic. However, the fares charged by ferry operators have been on the increase and the problem of overloading the vessels is also another course of concern. Observers are of the opinion that the abundant inland waters in Lagos should be utilized by the State Government for as viable alternative means of transportation. Water hyacinth on the water ways should be cleared to enhance movement of boats and ferries. Though the services of the BRT buses are not helping the situation. Recently at Oshodi bus stop, passengers were stranded for hours waiting for buses to convey them to the Island.

During the fourth Lagos State Climate Change Conference held in April, the General Manager of the Lagos State Environment Protection Agency LASEPA Engineer Ashabi recommended car-pooling as a means of reducing carbon emission in the State. Car-pooling involves the use of a vehicle by more than one occupant going towards the same direction. This reduces the number of vehicles on the roads thereby reducing carbon emission from these cars and increasing the life span of the roads and improving the air quality. I have observed that Lagosians who live on the mainland but work on the Island have gradually started car-pooling. This help save cost of transportation for the people involved and they could rotate cars from one person to another to reduce the use of a particular car all through. “When you decide to drive to the office in the morning, the traffic on the other alternative routes are so much that your fuel will finish while you are in traffic” said Mrs. Chioma Okafor who work in a private company in Victoria Island. “What I do these days is to follow my neighbors in their cars to CMS and enter a taxi from there to the office and same thing when returning home after work”.  Mutiu Adeniran who lives in Shomolu but work with a bank on the Island said the closure of the third mainland bridge has changed his work schedule. “I no longer drive in my car to the office on the Island but make use of the BRT buses, which saves me some money but the government needs to do something about the state of those buses. They are now looking like molue buses where Fela said forty-nine seating ninety-nine standing”, he explained.

Lagos Island host most of the business interest of the State as multi-national companies, banks and markets are all located there. When the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) scheme was launched under the Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration, the aim was to provide a safe, fast and cheaper means of transportation for the ever increasing Lagos populace. Also it was assumed that with a dedicated lane for the BRT buses, they would not be caught up in the usual early morning traffic rush. According to Governor Fashola “we wanted a culture where Lagosians would park their cars, board a BRT bus to work and pick their cars at the end of the day. This was why some BRT bus stations were built with car park facilities like in Moshalasi and Ketu BRT Park. Through the use of BRT bus it was expected that carbon emission would be reduced as this contribute to global warming and result in climate change. The State Government decided to add more bus schemes like the Lag Buses and franchise bus services with more routes across the State. Over the years the BRT buses had become dilapidated with the buses always crowded while the Lag buses still maintained its decent look.

The third mainland bridge was constructed in 1990 under the military administration of General Ibrahim Babaginda and it is believed to be the longest bridge in Africa. The bridge connects the Lagos mainland starting from the Ojota end of the default toll-gate to Obalende. Most Lagosians use the bridge to connect the Lagos Island and its environs which is the central business district of the old Lagos. The State Government can inculcate the “green transport idea” in Lagosians by improving transportation on land and sea, make more profit and still safe the environment as the rate of carbon emission would reduce.



                                                                                                

Friday, 15 June 2012

LAGOS: FARMING IN A MEGA CITY



Knowing that farming is a lucrative business in Lagos can be shocking information to many residence and visitors, who are full of the notion that Lagos is all about office job in its various forms. Mrs Bolatito Oyinloye a farmer of over twenty years in Ijanikin area of Lagos is often confronted with this question. How can you tell me you are a farmer in Lagos? I don’t think so because Lagos is a mega city that is well developed. The food we eat here is produced in the North and other States. This sarcastic reaction is what many small scale farmers in Nigeria’s economic capital city are confronted with. Mrs. Oyinloye explained the plight she and her fellow farmers have to undergo to keep still been farmers in Lagos, a city of over 18 million people.
I became a farmer because my parents were farmers in this Lagos and it was from this job that my fathers provided for the house and was able to give my siblings and I basic education. I continued in the farming business after their death but years after, I can tell you it is not easy to be a farmer in Lagos. I started with vegetable farming but now am into fish production. I had to to stop growing vegetables because I was not making enough money to assist my husband in providing for the family. Look at me I only have secondary education but with what I have suffered, I want my children to study in Higher Institutions and I have two already in the Universities. When I was into vegetable production, I could not predict what the outcome of the weathers would be. Sometime it rains a lot our farmlands get flooded and water logged. The vegetables rotten and we lose everything. We don’t get support from anywhere; even the Banks are not willing to give us the so called Agriculture loan. They keep procrastinating and wasting our time, for how long will I keep waiting for their loan while my farming business suffers. Most of us small scale farmers have challenge with land. You know in Lagos, most lands owners want to sale their lands to people for bigger money. When we beg for land to farm, they tell us how much do we make that they will give their lands to us. It was becoming frustrating and I don’t have any other business than farming. I had to borrow money from my friends and relatives to start fish farming. I still prefer fish farming to vegetable production; nobody will come and take or drag farm land with me.




 The world at large is threatened by food insecurity and Nigeria is not an exception. In Nigeria, 70% of food consumed is usually produced by small scale farmers, majority of which are women and this largely depend on the climate. These women farmers who either support their family by providing additional income or are the sole bread winner of the family. This is the case in a farming community operating inside the military cantonment in Ojo Barrack in Lagos. The farmers are mostly wives of military officers and some widows whose husbands had died in active service to the nation. The leader of the farmers Madam Deborah Thomas boasted that their produce is sourced by most traders in different markets across the State. The women are mainly into vegetable production and few cultivate cassava. Madam Deborah explained that they have a daily market of vegetables that holds in the morning and evening. During market period you will see Lorries and trucks coming to buy from us. Our vegetables are very healthy and fresh. But she lamented that they have no support from anywhere. People living in the city don’t know we are the ones producing the vegetables they are consuming. If we have assistance from the government, we will be selling vegetables to much more people than what we are doing now. Among the challenges the women farmers faced is lack of drainage within the farmland as they suffer loss of crops during the raining season. “Our farmlands get so flooded that we can’t even enter the farm. The women burn there wastes which are made up of vegetable stalks that could be used to make compost.
    
 

The programme Director of Human and Development Agenda (HEDA), Mr. Sulaiman Arigbabu pointed out that these farmers are responsible for most of the vegetables, fish, poultry and live-stock we consume in Lagos but they lack support for large scale production.  We are working on a project to ensure theses farmers are supported. If they should stop farming, do you know the effect it would have on Lagos? Food prices will shoot up and that is why we have organized some training with them on climate change and also visited the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Agriculture with the farmers’ representatives. We are optimistic that help will soon come to them.


The case of Epe, a coastal town that has boundary with Ogun State is not different. Most of the farmers are into fish farming which include fishing in the rivers, streams and also fish production in artificial fish ponds. A fisherman Mr. Sikiru Adetunmobi spends an average of six-eight hours in the river while fishing, and according to him the night period is the best time to fish when the fish would be resting and traffic on the water will be less. The jetties that ferry passengers from the mainland to Epe and other coastal communities affect the location of the fish. So I start fishing from 8pm till it is dawn like 4am and return back home. Before the raining season, it is easier to fish but once the rain starts the sea hya-cinth covers most part of the river and we would not be able to fish. An old fisherman of over seventy years, who now make fishing net Pa Jacob Ajayi, explains that the sea hya-cinth was first noticed about twenty-years ago along the water ways in Epe and with time it became pre-dominant and constant blocking the river during the raining season. He attributed the sea hya-cinth presence to pollution from the Ogun-River which flows into Lagos. For those into fish production in Epe, lack of fish feed is a major challenge to their business. Mr. Omole Simson who has fish ponds believes that if a fish feed mill could be establish in Epe, it would alleviate their suffering. “We have to go to Ogun State to buy fish feed and it is not supposed to be like that. Lagos State can construct a fish feed mill and boost fish farming in Nigeria”.  This to him is saddened. “People come to our fish market from across the country but we don’t have government support to make this business more attractive. I know if the government pays attention to farming in Lagos State, we will be exporting food instead of the money wasted in importing food. Small scale farmers can feed this nation and even export to other countries, he stressed. Our fellow fishermen that go to the rivers to fish make use of engine boats. These boats are expensive to buy so they resort to buying fairly used boats, which would not last long before they start developing fault.”

Food as a life wire would be cut short in Nigeria’s most populous city due to the challenges faced by small scale farmers. One of the United Nation Millennium Development Goal's (MDG) is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015, Nigeria is farther away in achieving this target in spite of its large expanse of land being fertile. Currently Africa is battling with a major food crisis in the Horn of Africa. While Nigeria’s economy used to be agriculture based before the oil boom which apart from contributing to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Agriculture will be a major source of ensuring food security, creating jobs for the teeming population that comes daily into Nigeria mega city Lagos; in search of greener pastures.