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.