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.