Thursday, 24 September 2015

EJN´s Regional Leaders Assume Key Role as Climate Mentors

Some of the developing world’s most experienced reporters on climate change are now working as mentors to junior reporters, to advance the quality of climate change reporting and amplify the voices of those most affected.

The initiative, which started in June, is part of EJN’s Human Dimension of Climate Change project, launched with the support of the Oak Foundation. The mentors work with journalists who are new to covering climate issues, as well as with experienced professionals who are working on in-depth coverage and investigations, to bring climate change issues to the forefront of news coverage in the most vulnerable communities.

Mentors hold weekly conversations with their protégés, working as editors and advisors to craft and review story ideas and reporting techniques.

See some of the published stories below.

Imelda Albano, a mentor who is also the founder of the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists and the editor of the Environews website, is currently working with four mentees. Between June and August, they published 10 climate-related stories.

Michael Simire, the editor of EnvironewsNigeria, has three journalists he’s mentoring in Lagos. So far nine stories, including online and radio reports, have been produced covering the effects of ocean surges on local populations and problems related to urban issues in the city.

In Colombia, Maria Clara Valencia, a journalism teacher at the Universidad Tecnológica Bolivar in Cartagena de Indias, decided to work directly with students to incentivize them to publish their first stories on climate change. Two articles have already produced by the young journalists. Now Valencia is trying to set up arrangements with local newspapers to see the reportage published.

Some of the EJN partners are taking a multinational approach and connecting with journalists beyond their country. Costa Rican Katiana Murillo is mentoring four journalists from Latin America. Cameroon's David Akana also works with four journalists from Central Africa, where he recently launched the platform InfoCongo.

Tunisian journalist Mona Samari has been working with journalists from her native country, as well as from Egypt and Algeria. One of Samari’s partners on the program, Egyptian journalist Rehab Abd Almohsen, recently published a story about the Islamic declaration on climate change on SciDev.net.

Journalists interested in participating in the mentorship program should contact EJN.

Sampling of Published Stories

Nepal

Why Nepal has not been able to access funds from Green Climate Change: interview with Climate Change Chief of Nepal, by Pragati Dhakal, Karobar Daily, August 21, 2015 (Nepalese)

UNDP eye on climate investment Fund, Nepal government likely to allow UNDP as the mediator, by Pragati Dhakal, Karobar Daily, August 14, 2015 (Nepalese)

Major river flooding unlikely this year, say experts, by Riwaj Rai, Republica Daily, August 18, 2015 (English)

Nigeria

Too much rain threatening our yield, vegetable farmers lament, by Kayode Aboyeji, EnvironNews Nigeria, July 26, 2015

Food crisis intervention (radio report), by Innocent Onoh, Radio Nigeria Network/AudioBloom, July 25, 2015

Flood warning in Lagos (Radio Report), by Innocent Onoh, Radio Nigeria Network/AudioBloom, July 30, 2015

Dreams, hope as solar powers century-old Lagos island, by Augustina Ogbonna-Armstrong, EnvironNews Nigeria, August 16, 2015

Philippines

Why investing in renewable energy is a must for Philippines, by Apples Jalandoni, ABS-CBN News, June 20, 2015

Pope Francis reframing the debate on climate change, by Anna Valmero, Philippine Environews, June 17, 2015

PHL urged to involve youth, PWDs in climate plansOpinYon, June 2, 2015

South-south collaboration fuels uptake in renewable energy, by Anna Valmero, SciDev Net, June 22, 2015

Mentors

Country / Region

Name of the mentor

Brazil
Gustavo Faleiros, Earth Journalism Network

Central Africa
David Akana, InfoCongo

Latin America
Katiana Murillo, Latin Clima

Colombia
Maria Clara Valencia

India
Joydeep Gupta, thethirdpole.net

Mediterranean and North Africa

Mona Samari, Tunisian Environment Reporting Network

Nepal
Ramesh Bhushal, thethirdpole.net, EJN

Nigeria
Michael Simire, EnviroNews Nigeria

Pacific Islands
Cherelle JacksonEnvironment Weekly

Philippines
Imelda Abaño, Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists

Credit: Internews and Earth Journalism Network

Saturday, 19 September 2015

All Hail Nigeria's Waste Capital!!!!!

   
    
                                                         Ikoyi/Lekki Bridge Lagos



Living in a state like Lagos where the state government is doing everything to ensure zero-tolerance to waste, it is a shocker to see some state living with waste as their neighbors.

A recent visit to the East, resulted in the discovery of Nigeria's waste capital. Aba the great Enyinmba and economic capital of Abia state is not a sight to behold. Though a city where daily millions of naira are generated from business activities in Ariaria to other manufacturing/production companies, the city is filled with so much dirt.

                                                         Aba express way

A welcome as you approach from the PortHarcourt expressway from Obigbo in Rivers towards Osisioma is as though the people are so immune to waste as dirt line the median on the expressway.


                                          
                                                                 MRF Lagos
Lagos state was once known to be among the dirtiest cities in the world but the state government has continued to take giant strides in making waste management a standard for Nigeria and other neighboring West African countries. 


                                              
                                            Former Governor of Lagos Babatunde Fashola
Lagos state has been so strategic in waste management to the extent of operating a waste material recovery facility MRF that will ensure total recycling of waste in the state. And during its commissioning in May, former governor Babatunde Fashola said the state will need more waste for the MRF to function at optimal capacity.



                                Aba express way towards Osiosioma in Abia state


It will be necessary for the Abia state government to consult the Lagos state government to help in managing the mountain of waste littered across the state. This I believe will help in restoring Enyinmba city to its place as a great economic hub in South-east Nigeria. 

How many investors will be attracted to such a filthy city that can best be termed the Waste Capital Of Nigeria? Is this not Nigeria's Waste Capital?

Friday, 18 September 2015

FG, Cross River on collision course over National Park by Alex Abutu

                                            

                                           The proposed highway master plan. Source: Ako Amadi


Obudu catle Ranch

A planned road construction by the Cross River State government across the Calabar National Park has pitched the state against the federal government.
Gov. Ben Ayade recently unveiled the plan to construct a super highway from Calabar to Obudu via Ikom, linking a new ‘seaport’ in Calabar. 
The road will cut right through the middle of the Oban Division of Cross River National Park, a proposed World Heritage Site and the richest site in Nigeria for biodiversity and indeed one of the richest sites in Africa.

Daily Trust recalls that on assumption of office, one of the first actions of the governor was to sack the management of the state forestry commission and open the forest up for exploitation, an act widely criticised by stakeholders.
Created in 1991, the Oban Division of Cross River National Park where the super highway is expected to pass through covers an area of around 3,000km2 of lowland  rainforest - the largest area of closed-canopy rainforest in Nigeria and contiguous with Korup National Park in Cameroon. 
Oban is an important watershed with hills rising above 500m and one peak reaching approximately 1,000m.  The Oban Hills once formed part of one of the lowland rain forest refuge during the last glacial period, today the area is a center of species richness and endemic particularly for primates, amphibians, butterflies, fish and small mammals.

Oban is an internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot and contains a number of important species such as the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee Pan troglodytes ellioti, the drill Mandrillus leucophaeus, Preuss’s red colobus monkey Procolobus preussi, leopard Panthera pardus, forest elephant Loxodonta cyclotis and the grey-necked Picathartes or rockfowl Picathartes oreas.
Already, the park is facing the threats of widespread hunting and as a result the density of all large mammal species is very low.  Illegal logging is also a major problem despite a state-wide ban on logging, with timber often floated out of the park along major rivers.
Reacting to the development, Alhaji Haruna Tanko Abubakar, Conservator General National Park Service said that the service will resist the attempt to destroy the park.

“The park is on the exclusive list and therefore owned and managed by the federal government but Cross River State is the host so the government cannot just destroy what took several years of painstaking efforts and public fund to establish,” he said.
He said that already, the park was seeking an audience with the state governor to discuss the issue.
“The park is a national heritage and it won’t be good to watch such facility being destroyed for no reason,” he added. 

Daily Trust check at the Environmental Impact Assessment Department of the Federal Ministry of Environment to ascertain if the Cross River State government has obtained the EIA for the project proved abortive as the director said he needed time to search the department system to see if any application came in regard to the proposed road project.

Daily Trust also observed that following public outcry, the state government claimed it was not aware that the proposed road traverses the National Park and appear willing to consider alternative routes that will preserve the integrity of the park.

Which countries have the most women in parliament?



A recent index of gender equality by the World Economic Forum explores the disparity between opportunities available to men and women in the fields of health, education, economy and politics. The Forum’s 2014 Gender Gap Report ranked 142 countries according to their gender equality.

Scandinavian and northern European countries dominated the index’s upper echelons, perhaps as expected. But among the index’s highest-ranking countries, African economies had a significantly strong representation of women in parliament.

The statistics on women in parliament comes from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which has just updated its database to reveal that there are now two countries in the world with more women than men in parliament — Rwanda and Bolivia.

CountryWomen in parliament (%)
1Rwanda                 63.8
2Bolivia                 53.1
3Cuba                 48.9
4Seychelles                 43.8
5Sweden                 43.6
6Senegal                 42.7
7South Africa                 41.9
8Ecuador                 41.6
9Finland                 41.5
10Iceland                 41.3

Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union

Legislation is a key driver of female representation. Heading up the African contingent is Rwanda, by far the best performer with 64 women (to 36 men) in parliament, helped by a law stipulating that 30% of all parliamentary seats be held by women. The next African state to figure is South Africa, where the African National Congress upped its quota of women in government from 30% to 50% in 2009.

In second position comes Bolivia where 2010 legislation requires equal numbers of male and female candidates in elections.

Nordic countries also feature strongly with Sweden, Finland and Iceland (top performer in the 2014 Global Gender Report) all making it into the top 10.

The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Report will be published in November.

Unilever CEO, Paul Polman recognized for leading business world towards a new model of sustainable growth

                           
                                                    Paul Polman CEO of Unilever

Paul Polman has been announced as one of the winners of the UN’s highest environmental accolade for leading the private sector toward sustainability, both in his role as Unilever CEO and as a tireless advocate for more sustainable business models.

Mr. Polman, who receives the award in the Entrepreneurial Vision category, is being recognized for his bold leadership, which demonstrates that the transition to a low-carbon economy is an opportunity to be seized, not a risk to be managed.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “With his ambitious vision and personal commitment to sustainability, Mr Polman has established a reputation for leading by example. As Unilever CEO, he is demonstrating the need for long-term corporate thinking that accounts for social and environmental concerns. In addition, his leadership on UN and other sustainability boards is directly influencing a sustainability shift in the corporate world beyond his own company.

“Mr. Polman’s contribution to sustainability through partnerships and collaborative action embodies Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals, and exemplifies the type of cooperation needed for their realization. He has been an untiring advocate in both professional and personal capacity to make the world of business commit to being part of the solution to the manifold challenges of sustainable development.”

As CEO of Unilever, Mr. Polman has introduced a plan to halve the environmental footprint of the manufacture and use of the company’s products by 2020. Under his leadership, Unilever has already achieved zero waste to landfill across its entire global factory network, reduced the amount of CO₂ from energy and water in manufacturing by 37 per cent and 32 per cent since 2008 and are sourcing more than half of agricultural raw materials sustainably.  

Mr. Polman said, “I’m deeply honoured to accept this award. As the United Nations prepares to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals and agree a global climate deal, it is more important than ever that businesses take active leadership to show that growth and sustainability are not in conflict.

“Quite the opposite - in our experience sustainability drives growth. We have reached a tipping point for change in 2015, a once in a lifetime opportunity to end poverty and tackle climate change. But to make a real difference we need everyone on board - business, governments and NGOs. Now is the time to make this a fairer, more prosperous, more sustainable world.”

The long-term perspective shown by Mr. Polman as Unilever CEO is mirrored in his work as chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – an alliance of more than 200 businesses worldwide committed to creating a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.

The CEO’s imprint can also be felt in the UN Global Compact – the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, set up by the UN in 2000 – where he sits on the Board. Under the Global Compact, more than 8,000 member companies have chosen to follow ten guiding principles, including those on human rights and the environment.

In his role as co-chair of the Global Consumer Goods Forum Sustainability Committee, Mr. Polman and Unilever has led the work that resulted in the Forum’s commitment to net-zero deforestation by 2020.

Mr. Polman is also a member of the Commission on the New Climate Economy, chaired by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón. The Commission aims to help governments, businesses and society make better-informed decisions on how to achieve economic prosperity and development while also addressing climate change.

After pushing successfully for moves towards greater sustainability for all businesses, Mr. Polman was asked by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to be part of the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. There, the CEO worked with fellow panel members to come up with key recommendations on the new Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. Polman’s work helped ensure that draft SDG goal number 17 aims to ‘strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development’. The panel’s report recommends that all companies worth more than $100m comply and report on social and environmental criteria for example.

About Champions of the Earth

The annual Champions of the Earth prize is awarded to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment.

Since being founded eleven years ago, the awards have recognized 67 laureates - ranging from leaders of nations to grassroots activists - in the categories of policy, science, business and civil society.

This year’s edition aims to support the new Sustainable Development Goals by illustrating – through the examples of the laureates – that the transition to low-carbon, resource-efficient, inclusive and sustainable economic models is not just possible, but already in progress.

Mr. Polman joins H.E. Sheik Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh (Policy Leadership); the National Geographic Society (Science and Innovation); Brazilian cosmetics firm Natura (Entrepreneurial Vision); and South Africa’s Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit (Inspiration and Action). The awards will be handed out at a Gala Ceremony at the close of the Sustainable Development Goals summit, on September 27. 

Why are the media not part of the open data conversation? By Stephen Abbott Pugh





In early September, hundreds of open data practitioners, civil servants, researchers, technologists and specialists in health, agriculture, governance and education gathered in Tanzania for the first Africa Open Data Conference.

But the media were largely missing from the event apart from during the opening plenary by Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, the outgoing president of Tanzania.

Why has the international open data agenda not yet captured the imagination of many journalists? At its heart, the push to embrace open data is about growing new businesses, speeding up the flow of information, improving governance and accountability, saving lives and embracing innovative technologies. All topics that the media normally love to cover.

There is also an international politics angle to the agenda. At the end of September, world leaders will gather in New York for the UN General Assembly. You might have heard that they will formally agree on the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) which will help guide international development efforts to 2030. But did you know that an International Open Data Charter will also be announced in New York as well as a Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data?

The Tanzania conference showcased the breadth of fields preparing themselves for a wave of change powered by open data. Farmers discussed data-driven approaches to altering the value chains of their goods; doctors imagined speedier ways of tackling epidemics; and development professionals talked about how open data could revolutionize how they plan and deliver projects.

Huge issues stand between where many countries are now with open data and where they will need to be in a few years’ time. But you could glimpse the future in the dozens of experiments on show -- fromRamani Huria’s community mapping of Dar es Salaam aimed at improving flood resilience, to Code for South Africa’s work showing how open data on medicine pricing could help governments save millions when dealing with pharmaceutical companies.

All of these will generate great stories for African media in the future and the conference would have been a way to make contacts and start telling these stories ahead of anyone else.

I attended the conference with my Code for Africa team as well as three of our Open Government fellowswhose work in Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda we are supporting for the next six months in partnership with Open Knowledge.

At Code for Africa, we’re excited about the possibilities that will arise from the increased availability of open data from countries across Africa. From our Dodgy Doctors project with the Star in Kenya to ourGotToVote electoral SMS tools, we’ve shown how all types of information can be turned into actionable data that helps empower citizens once the data is liberated from PDFs, dusty databases or closed formats. And we are working with media partners in countries like Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda to help them take advantage of open data in their reporting.

So next year I hope to see more journalists not only attending the second Africa Open Data Conference, but presenting on the ways they’ve integrated data into their reporting as well. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Lacasera Shuts Down Operations; Sacks All Staff




Scores of angry workers of La Casera Company Plc staged a protest, on Monday, in Lagos after about 700 workers received their sack letters, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported.

The workers said they are protesting because the company’s management responded to their efforts at unionism by firing all of them.
The company, however, described the protest as an invasion of its premises by ‘hoodlums.’

NAN reported that the crisis began after the workers arrived at the company premises in Amuwo Odofin Industrial Estate, Mile 2, Lagos, and found the gate locked against them and a notice of disengagement pasted at the entrance.



The notice, dated September 14 and addressed to all members of staff, stated that “as a result of the unwarranted breaking-in and invasion of our business premises on September 11, we cannot guarantee the well-being of our employees from hired hoodlums and their collaborators.

“As a result of this unprovoked act of vandalism, we are unable to continue operations under this circumstance. Unfortunately, we regret to inform all our staff of their immediate disengagement.”

The workers, under the aegis of the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE), condemned the act, noting that some of them had worked for between five and 15 years.

Mr Mike Olarenwaju, Head of Education Department in NUFBTE, who spoke for the workers, said that for 12 years, the company denied workers the right to be unionised.

Olarenwaju said that when an in-house union was about to be inaugurated, the management of the company sacked the chairman, which made the NUFBTE officials to visit the company on Friday, September 11 to address the workers.

“We were surprised today that the company locked the gate and sacked the workers. Meanwhile, the case between the workers and the company over unionisation is currently at the National Industrial Court,” he said.

Olanrewaju urged the government to intervene in issues of unfair labour practices being perpetrated by foreign companies.
He said that until the workers were re-absorbed, the union would continue to picket the company.

Mr Idowu Adelakun, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), told NAN that the act of calling labour officials hoodlums was wrong and vowed that labour would not allow the company to function until the matter was resolved.

Lacasera is a beverage company owned by Indians which started operations in Nigeria in 2000.

When contacted, the Human Resources Manager of the company, identified as Chief Otemewo, told NAN on phone that he was not aware of the crisis and promised to call back when he obtained details of the sack.

Culled from NAN

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Deciding moment at UN Youth Assembly By Gidado Shuaib


Few months after the launch of Youths Digest magazine, I received an invitation as an editor to attend United Nations Youth Assembly (UNYA) in New York organised by Friendship Ambassador Foundation.

Realising that confirmed sponsorship of an event in America doesn’t guarantee automatic visa to the United States, I filled the online application form for the visa and waited for a miracle.

At the US Embassy in Abuja, I was not only scared but terrified seeing the number of prospective travellers, especially businessmen and politicians whose visa requests were rejected. I prayed deeply when I overheard an applicant cursing her unknown enemies, for failure to get the visa.

“Young man, you are the next person!” A voice interrupted my thought. I looked up only to see the visa officer beckoning to me to come over.

Being an undergraduate, I have learnt that job interviews are tedious; I didn’t anticipate visa interview could be more rigid, tough and penetrating. Having read most of the correspondences from organisers on the scheduled programmes and activities in New York and other studies, I found it easy responding to the questions. Though convinced on my response, I still had palpable fears of rejection.

“Your visa will be ready next week!” the Visa Officer declared suddenly.

I was not only excited for the opportunity to visit the USA, the fact that the International Youth Conference, known as Youth Assembly would take place inside the United Nations Headquarters in New York was an added impetus.

After two stopovers in Amsterdam and Boston, we finally landed in New York City in a breath-taking 18 hours journey. We arrived in New York City at night with a thick cloud hovering over the legendary city.  The impressive wide boulevards and flyovers were fascinating and lovely.

On arrival at the UN Headquarters, delegates were issued tags for easy identification in the building. The Youth Assembly had in attendance nearly 600 delegates from over 30 countries. Most of the discussions and deliberations focused on the Sustainable Development Goals the successor to the Millennium Developments Goals (MDGs) due to lapse this year after 15 years of reign.

Nigerian-born Amina J. Mohammed, who is Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Post -2015 Development Planning, was among the guest speakers. She set the tune for the conference when she declared: “Now you have a real chance to make a tremendous impact in the world – as the chosen few.”

Another inspiring speaker was Andy Rabens, US Special Advisor for Global Youth Issues who narrated his experience at the UN General Assembly Hall more than 10 years ago as a young man and intern. He talked about a “Pager” being used then as a mobile device. He said “it would buzz, a number would appear, and you’d go to a pay phone, throw in a quarter, and call them back in a different time. Mobile phones were not too popular then.”

That the period, which was before the infamous 9/11 attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in United States, there were no Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, selfies or any powerful social networks for easy communication.

As he spoke, I wondered how the youths were communicating before year 2000 when there were no easy means of communication through technology. In fact the youths had far less power at their fingertips compared to today.  We could not imagine a life without smart phone, internet and social media platforms.

Other speakers agreed that because of technology and demographics, we now live in the most empowered generation the world has ever seen. With about 60 percent of global population below the age of 35, the youths have the power to change the world positively by mobilizing towards just causes.

The delegates lauded the launching of the Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) that would expand on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While they agreed that MDGs recorded reductions in people living in extreme poverty and access to clean water among others, there are more loopholes to be blocked and tackled.

The new agenda of SDGs will likely consist of additional goals for the next 15 years towards further eradicating extreme poverty; ensuring environmental sustainability and conservation; advancing gender equality, continuing to tackle conflict and climate change and building peaceful and economically prosperous societies so that no global citizen is left behind.

The young people at the Youth Assembly unanimously agreed that with modern technology and the world of connectivity, there is greater opportunity to not only help shape the worldview but to implement SDGs and ensure that concrete progress takes place before our very eyes.

The UN Youth Assembly not only broadened my scope of knowledge on MDGs and SDGs, the trip exposed me to exceptional youths that are passionate about changing the world positively.

•Gidado Yushau Shuaib (gidadoshuaib@yahoo.com) is a student of Baze University, Abuja.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Green Talk For Action Series: On Tour Nigeria's First MaterialRecoveryFacility


Former Governor Babatunde Fashola during the commissioning of the MRF in May


On the 12th of May 2015, the first Material Recovery Facility MRF in Nigeria, built and managed by WestAfricaENRG was commissioned by former Governor of Lagos state Babatunde Fashola. 

During the commissioning of the MRF, Governor Fashola said with its operation Lagos now has a new problem. This new problem is that, more waste will be needed to enable the MRF operate at optimal level.


Four months after the commissioning, I decided to visit to see how much of the #GreenTalk was now in ACTION. Now let me take you on a tour of what I saw at the Material Recovery Facility.

As you approach the facility from the entrance gate, you will be greeted by fleets of birds flying around the waste collection bay. The presence of the birds attest to the biological life presence among the different composition of waste at the MRF. The birds also in search of greener pastures further aids the natural food cycle, as they feed on the waste and then carry different seedlings of crops that are farther dispersed and continue to boost agriculture.

Waste Management Operations
The MRF which is located along the LASU/Igando road was constructed on one and half hectares of land, on what used to be a former dump site and will manage an annual waste of 1.2 million tons that is generated by Alimosho Local Government area of Lagos. Since operations began in July, the MRF receive 30 trucks of waste daily and will employ about 500 more staff and operates 24hours to boost daily collection to 100 trucks. 


The waste which are usually conveyed in trucks are first weighed at the weigh bridge section before evacuation at the waste receiving bay. The waste are then fed into three different conveyors by small forklift trucks. The conveyor transport the waste up to a sorting section where an average of twenty workers sort the waste into different materials. But before the waste gets to the sorting section, it is sorted to remove sand, dust and food waste as compost. 

nylon and other plastic waste are further sorted into large bags and arrange based on colour and quality. The plastic, nylon and tin are compressed into bails ranging from 50-80kg per bail with a bailing machine. 

The bail plastic, nylon, tin are then sold to different manufacturing companies producing plastics, textiles, furniture,glass, metal, paper amongst others. 

                              
                            women sorting out plastic bottles

One interesting thing I noticed was that 80% of workers at the MRF are women with few men working as machine operators. The Chief Executive Officer of West Africa Energy that manages the MRF Paul O'Callaghan and the Chief Operations Officer Miss Lolade Oresanwo said this was because women are more dedicated and have a sense of responsibility to duty. She called for more opportunities to be given to women in work places.



Challenges 

Some of challenges facing the MRF include power supply which has to be supported with daily running of a 5 KVA generator. The management called for more financial support and proactive ness from government, in prioritizing waste management which is an emerging sector of the economy in the country. As a global challenge facing social enterprise, Paul O'Callaghan said government have to give financial support like kick off/start-up capital. He said the US government contributed to the success of the Silicon Valley by financially supporting IT firms at there initial stages.

But notwithstanding the management of the MRF is still corporate socially responsible, as it has provided borehole to a nearby community and ensures most of the workers are from its host community.

Friday, 11 September 2015

URGENT INTERVENTION REQUIRED: Shikira, One Tragedy Too Many



The Call To Action

Shikira, a remote community in Rafi local government area of Niger state, is in the news but for all the wrong reasons. 28 children have died due to lead poisoning; 65 lie critically ill. Global Rights Nigeria, a non-governmental organization spearheading remediation efforts in the area, calls for immediate government intervention!

The Shocking Facts 

Over 700 children died of gold mining related lead poisoning in Zamfara State between 2010 and 2012.28 children died of lead poisoning in Shikira recently; with 65 others lying critically ill.There is no access road to Shikira. 


A journey that should take 60-90 minutes from the state capital, Minna, takes 6-8 hours of negotiating bush paths, numerous rivers; broken culverts, sinking bridges, slippery hills, dangerous slopes, anxious villagers, nervous Fulani herdsmen, wrecked vehicles and bad roads.There are currently no livestock at Shikira - a predominantly pastoral community, because most of the livestock have died from lead contamination.


There are currently no medical personnel at the community’s ill equipped health center and the closest medical facility to the village is about a four-hour drive through non-existent roads. While the local Center for Disease Control have received training to treat lead poisoning, they are currently not treating.There is no school in Shikira. Most school-age children stay at home.The only treatment center is operated by Medical Doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International in Zamfara state.Treatment takes months and gulps up to 1 million naira per child.MSF is known to set up in war-torn areas where there is a clear absence of governance. They intend to withdraw from Nigeria though they haven't said when.Some of the effects of lead poisoning are usually permanent and irreversible especially in children.

Putting it in Context

Niger State has hosted mining activities since the 18th century: gold, talc, lead etc.As in other extractive host community States, abandoned mines litter some areas of the State and urgently require reclamation.Quite alarming is the unrestricted availability of mercury which artisanal miners recklessly use in the processing of gold.


Over 90% of mining activities in Nigeria is unregulated.Artisanal mining in Shakira as in many communities in Niger State has gone on unregulated for many years.The alluvial gold setting in Zamfara State is peculiar - it coexists with a high lead ore contentInterestingly, the same gold vein runs from Zamfara, through Kaduna, Niger and Osun. The Federal govt has already been warned about these hotspots.Zamfara incident gave the Fed and State govts an opportunity to preempt disaster and protect mining host communities. They have thus far done little.There has been no substantial intervention by the Govt in the crisis in Niger.Apart from the State govt's sponsorship (Payment for road transport) of 10 most critically ill children to Zamfara for treatment by MSF, nothing else has been done.In May 2015, a rapid response committee comprising of govt agencies, NGOs and international partners was set up at the instance of the Federal Ministry of Health. Regrettably, the committee has failed to implement any of its action plans.

Some precarious effects of the lead poisoning outbreak includes the contamination of Shakira’s only water body and the soil nursing the crops on which the community depends on for subsistence.

What is Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning occurs when you absorb too much lead by breathing or swallowing a substance with lead in it, such as paint, dust, water, or food. Lead can damage almost every organ system. Children under the age of 6 are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. 

What are the Symptoms of Lead Poisoning?

Depending on the severity, some symptoms include:

Abdominal painBrain damageMultiple organ failureHearing lossLearning difficultiesLoss of developmental skills in childrenMental impairment 

How is Lead Poisoning Treated?

 

Lead is treated through a process called Chelation Therapy. Chelation therapy is a chemical process in which a synthetic solution—EDTA, is injected into the bloodstream to remove heavy metals and/or minerals from the body. When EDTA is injected into the veins, it "grabs" heavy metals and minerals such as lead, mercury, copper, iron, arsenic, aluminum, and calcium and removes them from the body. 

How Did Poisoning Occur in Shakira, Zamfara, Others?

Residents mine gold nuggets and take them home. They grind these nuggets within their living quarters thereby spreading lead-laden dust into the atmosphere. This dust then covers everything in it's path - floors, grass, crops etc. and is inhaled by people within the community.They also wash the nuggets in their community stream thereby contaminating their drinking source.This contamination of living quarters, crops and water accelerates the lead poisoning process.Children, who are more susceptible to lead poisoning, are the first to suffer from the effects of the problem.

What is Remediation?

It's simple - it means to remove the top-soil in the land that is contaminated by lead and replace it with fresh soil from somewhere else.

What Does Global Rights Want from the Government?

Federal:

Immediately commence the remediation of Shakira community.Immediately situate a crisis center at Rafi Local Government and dispatch a medical response team to initiate treatment for affected victims.Immediately test all members of the community for lead poisoning Actively Regulate mining activities and promote artisanal mining cooperatives in Niger state.Provide safer mining equipment such as wet mining machines for artisanal cooperatives.Regulate water sources used for gold processing.Embark on educating mining communities on safer mining practices and regulations.Coordinate with the state government in ending the crisis.

State:

Immediately upgrade the medical facility at Shakira community.Immediately provide more water borehole facilities to ensure the supply of portable water to the community.Build an access road leading to the community.Provide alternative livelihoods for the rural communities in Niger state.Cooperate with the Federal Government in arresting further lead poisoning outbreaks in Niger state.

Want To Help?

I need the names and contact details of the Councillor, House of Rep Member and Senator covering Shakira community. Thanks!

Need more info?

Email: preciouse@globalrights.org
www.globalrights.org

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Season One of Community Diary Now Available Online!!!!!!




I produced and presented a weekly radio program called "Community Diary" that ran for a quarter every Saturday by 11;30am on Radio One 103.5fm between May-August,2015.


Community Diary was aimed at bringing news, issues and happenings about under-reported and groups in Lagos Nigeria. Lots of communities like Sagbo Kodji Island, Otodo-gbame, Ikoga/Zebbe, Igbede-Ojo amongst others were featured.

For those that missed out listening to it as I took my listener on my normadic journalism trip, you can now listen to the whole edition of Season One on my audio blog "Mix Cloud".

The link can be found here. https://www.mixcloud.com/ogbonna-augustina/



Kindly listen, comment and share. Thank you.


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Enough of the Environment Talk Shows!!!!!

                 
               
   

Energy entrepreneurs and stakeholders gathered at a recent event to discuss the Utilization of the Potential Renewable Energy and also focused on financing opportunities of renewable energies as well as the challenges and advantages involved.

 

There were presentation on the Renewable Energy Market, challenges, opportunities and prospects in financing renewable energy in Nigeria and Innovative chance for financing energy projects like crowd funding.


While I sat through the four hour discussion and presentations, I was drawn back to seminars I have attended in the past, which all ends up as all talk, no action! 


At this last event a bank executive spoke glowingly on how he had to install solar power in his house as a model to convince his colleague that solar works. He said his bank support Eco-friendly projects and committed towards sustainable development. I felt so excited and couldn't wait to meet him at break time. When I finally met him, I told him about Sagbo Kodji Island that has existed without power supply for 100 years and proposed his bank adapt the community solar power project as its corporate social responsibility CSR. Then I started hearing economic jargon! The project must have a business model that is sustainable. It must be able to fund itself and bla bla bla! He didn't give me a chance to explain to him that residents in the community are willing to pay for the light at a cost. 



Hmmm. I thought to myself, another talk show anchor who just told the hall packed with participants that his bank finances Eco-friendly projects but can't undertake an Eco-friendly CSR without a business model. But such a bank will be more interested in planting flower at major roundabouts in Lagos and erecting bill boards stating they are committed to a clean and environment friendly Lagos. As though the banks are competing who can plant more flowers in Lagos than former Governor Babatunde Fashola.




Is financing Sagbo Kodji Island solar power project not more sustainable and life changing? Where the women will no longer inhale smoke from firewood as they preserve their fish or where children in the community will be able to study and excel in academic work because they now have light to study.


Will this singular CSR not change the socio-economic status of residents in this abandoned island who are between Marina and Apapa bounded by the wealth of Nigeria but suffer from neglect and developmental deprivation?




It is no news that Nigeria is bedeviled by epileptic power supply which just recently improved with the start of the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. An average family in any urban city in Nigeria owns the popularly called the "I pass my neighbor" generator which consumes at least five liters of fuel which total #500 with the inclusion of engine oil. There have been a lots of campaign for governments to seek alternative form of power through renewable energy but while this is yet to be felt in Nigeria can best be described as Organisation of Talk shows!


A community like Sagbo Kodji Island in Lagos which had existed without power supply for 100 years since its existence can only be happy if more homes in the area can be power after stakeholders finishing gathering to discuss. The pilot project that power few homes in Sagbo Kodji is yet to return to power other homes due to lack of funding.                  


Where are all the money so far announced for renewable energy projects for off grid communities in Nigeria? 


When will women in mega cities like Lagos stop using charcoal and firewood to cook for their families? 


When will the smoke of cloud over Sagbo Kodji community due to women roasting fish for commercial purposes turn to clean skies?


When will the realities and actualization of the United Nations Climate Change Summit be felt by poor communities in Nigeria in the area of accessible and affordable energy, adaptation mechanism for coastal communities to mitigate impact of ocean surges like in Okun Alfa area in Lekki Lagos? 


These and other many questions are been asked by poor communities who will benefit from talk shows in the environment sector held both in Nigeria and the international scene.