Thursday, 27 March 2014

Italian Priest and Medical Doctor, American NGO, Win 2014 United Nations Population Award



A Catholic priest and a non-profit organization specializing in maternal health have been named the winners of the 2014 United Nations Population Award. The General Assembly established the award in 1981 to recognize outstanding achievement in the fields of population and health.

Father Aldo Marchesini of Italy, who is also a medical doctor, has been involved with population issues for 43 years. He went to Mozambique in 1974 to serve the most impoverished areas, often as the only medical doctor working with limited resources. He started treating obstetric fistula soon after his arrival and remained the only medical doctor to treat this condition in the country for many years, during which he trained all the physicians working in this field in Mozambique today. He also raised funds, not only to finance the treatment of patients, but also to pay for their transportation, meals and clothes.

Father Marchesini was kidnapped and imprisoned a number of times during the country’s post-independence civil war. His dedication and service gained him many awards, including Knight of the Order of the Star of Solidarity of the Republic of Italy, Certificate of Honour from the Ministry of Health of Mozambique and the Campaign to End Fistula, and the Certificate of Honour from the Zambézia Provincial Directorate.

Jhpiego, originally known as the John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics, is this year’s other winner. The organization was founded in 1973 to prevent maternal death. For the last 40 years, Jhpiego has provided assistance to around 160 countries and is today active in more than 30 countries worldwide. It has also trained more than half a million health professionals in family planning and reproductive health.

The American organization focuses on various programme areas, including maternal, newborn and child health; family planning and reproductive health; HIV prevention, care and treatment; cervical cancer prevention and treatment; urban health; and contraceptive innovations. It is a recognized leader in promoting family planning programmes among women who have given birth and in integrating family planning into maternal and child health services.

The Award Committee for the United Nations Population Award, which made the selection, is chaired by the Czech Republic Ambassador to the United Nations, Edita Hrdá, and consists of representatives of Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Grenada, Jamaica, Qatar, United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria and Pakistan. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin are ex-officio members.

The Awards will be presented at the United Nations on 12 June.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Journalism Professors Land "Summer Internships" at Digitally Savvy Newsrooms in America


Faculty from historically black universities will spend the summer as "Back in the Newsroom" Fellows, honing digital skills, sharing expertise, and bolstering opportunities for students


In a new fellowship program called "Back in the Newsroom," five professors from historically black colleges and universities will spend a summer working at digitally advanced U.S. news organizations. This "internship" will help journalism educators see firsthand the new skills needed for students to succeed in today's newsrooms.


The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) will run the program, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.  


The fellows will update their digital skills, develop cutting-edge curricula and strengthen relations between these newsrooms and their schools. The program will help improve diversity at leading U.S. newsrooms by forging pipelines to promising students.


"This is a triple win for journalism," said David Callaway, editor-in-chief of USA Today. "The professors win by sharpening their skills to meet today's digital news pace. The newsrooms win by getting an outside and diverse perspective on news coverage. And ultimately the students win from both." USA Today is one of five major media organizations that will host the fellows this year.


"Professors need to be at the forefront of the movement to modernize journalism education," said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation's vice president of journalism and media innovation. "This program allows them to do just that-providing the skills and insights to lead students into the newsrooms of the 21st century." 


The fellows will spend the summer at the Los Angeles Times, CNBC, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, where they will focus on multimedia reporting, data journalism, social media and other methods for engaging audiences, skills that journalists need in today's newsrooms.


ICFJ will host a two-day, hands-on workshop at the start of the fellowship to develop strategies to get the most out of the program. At the conclusion, the fellows share their plans to revamp their curricula and approaches to teaching and maintain ties with newsrooms for their students.


"In many cases, newsrooms have changed more rapidly than journalism education," said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan. "This program will help j-schools keep up with the technological transformations redefining the news industry."


The Back in the Newsroom Fellows and hosts are:

  • Jerry Bembry, assistant professor in the School of Global Journalism & Communication at Morgan State University in Baltimore, teaches multiplatform production. He will be a fellow at USA Today.
  • Michael Douglas, assistant professor at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University in Tallahassee, teaches broadcast journalism with a focus on multimedia reporting. He also is the news director of FAMU-TV. He will be a fellow at the Los Angeles Times.
  • Yolanda McCutchen, assistant professor in broadcast news, multicultural media history and news writing at Howard University in Washington. She will be a fellow at The Washington Post.
  • B. DaVida Plummer, assistant professor focusing on broadcast journalism, writing, media law and broadcast regulation at Hampton University in Hampton, Va. She will be a fellow at CNBC.   
  • Jessica Sparks, instructor of multimedia journalism and design at Savannah State University in Georgia. She will be a fellow at The Wall Street Journal.




In its eighth year, WWF’s Earth Hour continues to defy expectations by mobilising hundreds of millions of people around different environmental priorities across the planet. And now in 2014, the movement further expands its digital and on the ground reach from the Nigeria, Togo, Benin, The Gambia, Ghana, Mali and Niger, with a groundswell of action creating massiveimpact around the world to shine a light on the incredible work being done to create a sustainable planet.


This year as millions of people watch lights going out around the world on March 29, 2013 between 8.30 – 9.30 pm, famous landmarks confirmed to participate in the event in Nigeria include Le Meridien Ogeyi Place in Portharcourt, Four Points by Sheraton in Lekki, Lagos, Bassan Plaza in the Central Business District of Abuja, Kwararafa University in Taraba and many more.



“Earth Hour has always been more than just about lights off, it’s about people from all walks of life coming together throughout the year to show what they can do to protect the planet,” says Oludotun Babayemi, Country Director of Earth Hour in Nigeria.


Last year alone saw hundreds of Nigerians petition to pass a bill to create a Climate Change Commission. In the later part of last year the team initiated a campaign tagged “WalktoMali” in which 12 Earth Hour Champions are embarking on a 3,404km round trip across the West Africa region to create awareness on environmental sustainability in 6 West Africa countries – Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Ghana, Togo and Benin. In February 2013, inspired by the team in Nigeria, Kwararafa University in Taraba state committed to a 20km hectare of forest reserve, while naming part of the forest an Earth Hour Forest.


From other parts of the world WWF "Uganda began the fight against the 6,000 hectares of deforestation that occurs in the country every month by creating the first ‘Earth Hour Forest’. In 2012, Russians also petitioned to get legislative change protecting the country’s seas from oil pollution and now are striving to protect an area of forest twice the size of France. This Earth Hour success stories illustrate the movement has become a global collaboration to show what can be achieved for the planet.


“What makes Earth Hour different is that it empowers people to take charge and to use their power to make a difference. The movement inspires a mixture of collective and individual action, so anyone can do their part,” said Babayemi.


During Earth Hour, the city of Dortmund, which is on a close longitude to Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Taraba will be sharing a common greeting from these participating cities regarding Earth Hour. “Since WWF Earth Hour is a symbolic moment of awareness for climate change all around the world, we are greeting the citizens of Lagos, Abuja, Portharcourt and Taraba in Nigeria. In order to fight the environmental problems we all need to contribute to a global resolution – a common problem can only be addressed with joint efforts” – Said Ullrich Sierau, the Mayor of the City of Dortmund.


During the Walk To Mali Project, the Team was able to connect with vulnerablelocal communities, build their capacity on disaster risk response and reduction while engaging activists on how their various actions can inspire change on mitigation and adaptation and contribute to the global campaign as the region has suffered a setback due to climatic disasters that has led to conflicts as available resources are now limited and scares”, says Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive of Connected Development (CODE).


Earth Hour in Nigeria was initiated by Connected Development (CODE) in 2011 and has now spring to the West African Region, adding more cities to the global environmental campaign.

On the Road: My 20 years travel diary



My first experience of traveling alone was in 1994 as a teenager during my secondary school days in Imo state. On Easter Monday of 1994, I boarded a luxurious bus to Lagos from Owerri with "The Young" Motors and ever since then I travelled to almost all the states in Nigeria.

I chose to create this travel diary as a dedication to all the people who have died on our roads which can best be described as "highways of death". In 2011, I almost lost my brother Basil to a fatal road accident along the Enugu/Port-Harcourt expressway way due to bad road as the vehicle failed brake and somersaulted into a ditch. My brother was lucky to survive though today he limps as a result of the fatality of the accident,many families were not so lucky because their loved ones who never lived to tell the story.

I want to imagine that the mandate of Federal Road Safety Corp FRSC is to ensure safety of road users by checking on vehicles to determine their road-worthiness but today I am among those Nigerians who believe that the FRSC still has a lot to do to live up to it billings. For instance, on the Ore-Benin road it is common sight to see dilapidated trucks carrying heavy logs of timber that are loosely strapped plying the expressway and in some cases resulting in fatal road accidents. How much has the FRSC done to ensure this timber transporting does not affect other road users?


In the last two decades billions of Naira had been budgeted for road construction across  the country but with little impact felt by users of the roads and the highways. In some parts of the country roads have been reconstructed which has made traveling worth the while. For example as a child, when I do travel along with my dad to my hometown, the  Owerri-Onitsha road was a nightmare but during the Obasanjo administration the road was reconstructed to a standard highway with sidewalks and drainage. Till date that is the only sustainable road in South-East Nigeria that is well constructed. The Onitsha-Enugu road has been under construction for some years with the parts leading up to the River-Niger bridge finished but other parts still under construction.

The Benin bypass road was constructed some years ago to reduce the traffic that was usually experienced inside the ancient Benin-city. The bypass provides alternative routes to travelers going to Agbor, Asaba, Warri in Delta state. I believe the smoothness of the road when it was first constructed made some reckless drivers travel with speed, that led to some avoidable accidents on that axis. Also the Benin bypass serves as a hideout for armed-robbers who lay in wait for unsuspecting road users robbing,raping and a times killing them.


As a child, the sight of the historic River-Niger bridge gives me hope that our long drive from Lagos to my hometown in Mbaise Imo state is almost over. I did wonder, how was that weight of steel laid across the river? I believe man and science have continued to subdue unimaginable aspects of nature. No wonder during the civil war of the late 1960's the bridge was disconnected from Asaba end to prevent the Nigerian military troops from entering the Biafra region.

The Okigwe-Abakaliki road constructed during the the Sam Egwu's administration was a breath of fresh air to road users plying the dusty road to Ebonyi State. Though many parts of Ebonyi state still lack motorable road. In those days I usually visit friends at Ebonyi state University EBSU and Federal Polytechnic Uwana, the dust along the road was enough to cause lung cancer. The roads were dusty and red with earth and the fastest means of accessing the capital was through motorbikes popularly called "okada".

The Enugu-PortHacourt road has been under construction since over ten years and it is yet to be completed. A times engineers are seen patching different portions of the road year in year out. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Community Voices on Governance in Lagos

Recently in my neighborhood I decided to put this great skill of my into practice as a way of sampling opinion about governance in Lagos and my decision to attend a neighborhood meeting provided me the opportunity. I used to wonder why my area was called "Ladipo Estate" because it does not depict the status of what estate portrays. From landlords and old residents, I came to find out that back in the 80's and 90's my neighborhood was well organized with functional street lights that were installed by the state government. But towards the late 90's the street lights stopped working and were subsequently vandalized and left for dead. No wonder during the annual street carnival in my area, the street lights were powered by generators from money generated by youths in the area.

A residents that has lived in the area for over 30 years confirmed to me that when the street lights were faulty, they contracted staff of Nigeria Electrical Power Authority NEPA to help in repairing but they ended up vandalizing the transformer meant to power the poles. This was quite shocking to me! How could "come and help us" turn to "come and steal from us"?

Till date the street lights which were installed from the beginning to the end of the street are all dead poles. 

So from power supply, our discussion shifted to functional government agencies in the state that were really adding value to the lives of Lagosians. Lagos Waste Management Authority LAWMA, was most recommended for transforming Lagos into a city to behold with pride. A resident, Mr. Shehu Abegunrin explained that the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos made it a place where all the different tribes in Nigeria merge as one and live together. This he pointed out has resulted in making it a challenge to change the attitudinal character of residents. 

"Do you know that in Calabar, you can't throw pure water sachet out of the window from a moving vehicle? But in Lagos, an indigene of that state will throw away pure water sachet from the window and feel no guilt! This is because in Cross river state there is a law in place and such offenders are arrested immediately. So since the return to democracy, subsequent governments have been trying to enlighten the people to see wrong in such attitude. Can you believe Lagosians now queue to enter a commercial bus? This was not possible in the past. We must give kudos to the administration of Fashola who has slowly but surely changed the attitude of Lagosians to behave right! See as Lagosians now dutifully pay waste bill and dispose there waste responsibly. In the past, Lagos was a dirty city but today we know the story".

Another resident Mr. Jamal Kadiri called for the reorientation of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority LASTMA officials. According to him, when LASTMA was first inaugurated they were very efficient but today it is a different story. "Do you know that some LASTMA officials are now involved in transport business? They own buses that are operating on the roads. This has resulted in them compromising their position when their own drivers are arrested for violating traffic/roads laws. If LASTMA, can be reshuffled and rebranded they can become the pride of Lagos roads. I won't call for the outright scrapping of the agency because Lagos road users need an agency that can enforce road discipline on drivers in the state".

Mrs. Rose Agabe, a mother of three appealed for more focus in suburb communities in Lagos state. "It is as if the development in Lagos is for only those in highbrow areas. Every time we see this pay your tax advert on television and hear it on radio. But why is the tax money not been used to construct roads in rural areas of Lagos? You visit some parts of Lagos and you ask yourself, is this also Lagos? Let the development be felt by everybody in this state and not some places or people" she concluded.

With these, I felt I have gotten enough information to write a story. We all bade each other good night but for me, that was the beginning of putting together the voices of Lagosians so the relevant authorities could take action.

Water and Energy


In recent times power supply has been epileptic in my area and this has directly affected the flow of water into my apartment. This is because if we don't have light for 6hours,the pressure to pump water into my apartment drops and after 48hours,we either connect the pumping machine to a power generating set or resort to buying or fetching water from other compounds.

This sudden short in water supply makes me go outside my flat to fetch water which for me is like punishment because I hate fetching water. I then start measuring the way I use water for all my basic domestic needs like washing,cooking,cleaning and even flushing the toilet.

With this recent shortage,my mind flashback to my days in secondary school as a boarding student. I had to adapt to water shortage by getting use to taking my bath with a paint of bucket which is about 4litres. During the hot weather,I remember how some students gets different kinds of rashes like heat rash and filiariasis. Some are forced to even drink water not potable for drinking resulting in all kinds of water borne diseases like cholera,dysentary etc.  Water is fundamental for everyday living and the facts that the body system is composed of liquid all makes it necessary to continue the body biological and chemical processes.

My visit to some communities where water are either short/scarce in supply or the available ones contaminated,brings to mind the different kind of disease condition that residents of such communities would be battling with. In many rural communities in Africa and other developing countries,people still walk for hours in search of water for daily domestic use. 

Large parts of the earth is made of water but many around the world still lack access to this wonderful constituent of creation.

Water and energy are closely interlinked and interdependent. Energy generation and transmission requires utilization of water resources, particularly for hydroelectric, nuclear, and thermal energy sources. Conversely, about 8% of the global energy generation is used for pumping, treating and transporting water to various consumers.

In 2014, the United Nation UN System – working closely with its Member States and other relevant stakeholders – is collectively bringing its attention to the water-energy nexus, particularly addressing inequities, especially for the 'bottom billion' who live in slums and impoverished rural areas and survive without access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient food and energy services. It also aims to facilitate the development of policies and crosscutting frameworks that bridge ministries and sectors, leading the way to energy security and sustainable water use in a green economy. Particular attention will be paid to identifying best practices that can make a water- and energy-efficient 'Green Industry' a reality.

With this year's world water day theme: water and energy, it shows that availability of water is directly proportional to the amount of available power that can be supplied.

Happy Water Day!!!

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Deaf Way

My work with the hearing-impaired/deaf community has taught me a lot about this group of special people. They are classed among the people living with disability but to me I believe they have been under-reported in the media.

There are different groups of people among the hearing-impaired. The most interesting group are the ones who are deaf but can speak. Though when involved in a conversation they usually need a sign language interpreter to help communicate with a hearing person. 

This picture below shows an interview been organised with the aid of a sign language interpreter but the hearing-impaired person involved in this interview can speak.

In this second interview, the hearing-impaired person been interviewed can't speak but is aided by a sign language interpreter who interprets the questions been asked by the journalist.

According to the global slogan for the deaf "we can do everything except hear".

In Nigeria, hearing-impaired students that intend to further their education after secondary school can enroll at University of Ibadan, University of Jos, University of Ilorin, and Federal College of Education OYO. University of Ilorin in Kwara State have sign language interpreters who interprete for the hearing-impaired students.

According to a Rotary volunteer and Sign Language advocate Dr. Filipino Deshmukh from India, sign language is a complete language that has all the component, structure, culture and lifestyle like any other language.

You can start learning sign language today by learning from the basics-alphabets.


Happy 2014

Though this post is coming late but it is better late than never. 2013 was a great year for me, most especially career wise.

I toured the world both for work and fun. My first trip was to Sao-Paulo Brazil for a training on Data Journalism under the European Youth Press sponsorship. It was a different field of learning for me. The use of data to tell stories. Thanks to the trainer Gustavo's Faleiros, a Knight International Fellow.

My next trip was to Germany, where I worked at Deutsche Welle- DW English service:African Link. It was an exciting period working with great colleagues. I had the privilege of reporting during the 5th Global Media Forum for DW. I spent about a month working and trying to learn basic German. Like guten Morgan,danke, amongst others.


While in Germany, I went to Valencia Spain for the weekend and I fell in love all over with the Spanish. I love them big.

As the saying goes "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". So I decided to go on summer vacation in the US. Which other State than my host State of Massachusetts where I first visited during my Science Journalism Course at Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT.

Let's I forget, my birthday was in August and coincided with my summer vacation. It was celebrated for me by the Eze's. My friend in Boston.
After all the fun, my next trip was to Yaounde Cameroon. I participated in a workshop on climate change adaptation policy organised by the Network of African Science Academy. 

In Cameroon, I reunited with my colleague from Cameroon and fellow caravan journalist who we both journeyed across six African countries by road all for climate change in 2011. Meet my friend and colleague, Bernice Atabong.

My final trip in 2013, was to Johannesburg South Africa for a training on Climate Governance organised by Inter Press IPS and Heinrich Boell Foundation.

So that was how 2013 went by. I met and networked with great colleagues and made new friends.
Back home in Naija(Nigeria), I visited and worked with more vulnerable communities and groups. Like the people with disability: blind and deaf,Bishop Kodji Island, small scale farmers, my lovely MAKOKO amongst others.
Atinporomeh community that was demolished by the Nigeria Police Force that alleged they are the new land owners. Over 1,500 buildings were demolished and some now sleep in the open like this man.
On my way to Bishop Kodji Island in Amuwo Odofin local government area.
Bishop Kodji Island
                                                Makoko Community

So 2014, is a great year with lots of prospects and opportunities. So follow me on all my social media platforms to know what I am up to. Different places, communities and people I will be working with.

Twitter: @Ogaugust451
Instagram: Teenaija
YouTube: Teenanaija
Flickr: Teenaija
Animoto: Teenaija