Friday, May 30, 2008

Interview with Sustainability Leader in Kano, Northern Nigeria

In line with the vision of E-glo project of the Earth Charter International which is to inspire millions of youths, highly capable, and connected youth all around the world bringing about justice, sustainability, and peace in their own lives, local communities, and the world, Leaders in sustainability in our local communities and the globe acts as inspiration to many.

Esther: Hello, can you tell us your name and where you work?
Murtala: I am Murtala Adogi Mohammed, a lecture of Biological Science Dept Federal College of Education Technical Kano State. I work in an Environmental Governance Based NGO known as Center for Education and Leadership Development
Esther: Ok. Tell us what you think is sustainable development?
Murtala: Sustainable development is an act of development in which the resources are used and preserved or maintained for future generation to also make use of it.
Esther: How can issues be address using sustainability? Including poverty and environment and social challenges?
Murtala: Issues based on poverty can be address if there is economic Empowerment . People at the grassroot needs to be empowered so that they can able to stop cutting down trees for domestic purposes
Esther: Are local inhabitants concerned about global environmental challenges?
Murtala: Yes they are concern, but the issue is the needs some capacity building and awareness campaigns to address the issue but nobody can not say that he is not feeling the impact of climate change.
Esther Is your community doing something to save environment? Are politicians involved, or NGOs active?
Murtala: For now the community is doing something which has to do with tree planting but it not enough. Civil Society Coalitions and governments needs to add more effort in awareness creation and capacity building so that people will do more action at the community level.
Esther: Are the local government interested in supporting environmental actions?
Murtala: the local governments are not fully interested in supporting environmental actions because of political issues. They will want intervention only in their community sure as the tree planting instead of areas that vulnerable to climate change
Esther: Are you hopeful that we can avoid a major environmental crisis? Why?
Murtala: Yes!
Esther: Why?
Murtala: If there is serious political and government action and commitment to Ecological issues.
Esther: Thanks Murtala Adogi Mohmmed..

Struggling to fill the food basket By Obo Effanga

Benue State prides itself as the “Food Basket of Nigeria”, a description it emblazons on vehicle number plate. But recent events seem to threaten this claim. Last year, several agricultural communities in Nigeria were hit by flood, signalling potential crisis in the months ahead. Benue had its own share of the disaster, but apparently, few people thought about the dire consequences to consider a strategic response.

The result is that early in 2008, Nigerians are facing the reality of insufficient food and galloping food prices which have been termed ‘food crisis’. It is made worse by the global trend of rice shortage from Thailand and other Asian countries, while Nigeria depends more on imports for its number one staple food, rice.

Benue is known as the food basket, not necessarily because it can feed the entire country with its farm produce, but because of its fertile soil which, according to its residents, could nurture just any crop. The state capital, Makurdi, is seat to one of the federal government’s specialised universities of agriculture.

Professor B.A. Kalu of that university opines that with “appropriate support” to farmers, the rice produced in Benue and Niger States (two north central states) could meet the consumption needs of the country. This is a view generally held by a cross section of Benue residents including foodstuff sellers and the president of the local farmers association, Chief Sam Kwawa. They oppose the federal government’s decision to commit N80 billion to rice importation, as such would kill the local production of rice. They instead request that the amount should be channelled towards supporting local production. Their position is supported by the National Assembly as the Senate rose recently in condemnation of the proposed importation of rice.

Talking about appropriate support for farmers, the tendency in Nigeria is to focus on provision of fertiliser and sometimes machinery. On both scores, the intervention has failed to address the problem. In Benue State, the government recently flagged off the farming season with fanfare, on which occasion the state governor, Gabriel Suswam proudly announced the release of fertilizers to farmers at a “subsidised” price of N2500 per bag. Curiously, that same quantity sold for just N1000 in the previous farming season.

Even at that, few farmers expect to get direct access to the fertilisers from government. They accuse bureaucrats of cornering the product and redistributing through middlepersons, meaning that farmers might get the product at a higher price, if it even gets to them early enough and not after the planting season. Similarly, the state government hires out its tractors to farmers at the cost of N4000 daily, a cost considered too high for the farmers. The implication is that the price of food would be even higher next season.

Interestingly, even though the state produces rice, its people hardly consider that as ‘food’. For many of them, food has to be a meal of pounded yam and so a measurement of food crisis here must be based on the production, availability and affordability of yam as the staple food!

As is the case with the rest of Nigeria, food production is still at its crudest form in many farming communities in Benue. Prof. Kalu puts the cost of making a heap of yam (which produces just one tuber of yam) at N6, up from N1 four years ago. Add the cost of the seedling, nurturing of the soil (with fertiliser) tending the crop, harvesting, transportation and the profit margin of middlepersons and you see a product slipping out of the hands of many potential consumers.

Today, the price of 100 tubers of yam has risen steadily from N5000 in September 2007 to somewhere between N16,000 and N18,000 depending on the size. Similar increases have been recorded for other foodstuff. Market survey in Makurdi showed increase in the price of a bushel of local rice from N1800 to N3200. The price of garri (a staple food made from cassava) rose from N1500 to N2500 and beans from N6000 to N9500, all within a space of four months. Similarly, a bowl of maize rose from N80 to N100 and guinea corn from N80 to N90. Many sellers interviewed say these products are not only costly but equally in short supply.

One does not need to go far to identify the cause of dwindling supply of food. Fewer people in Benue are involved in farming now than previously, apparently because the earning is nothing compared to other means of income with similar or less physical exertion. Investigation in the state showed that rather than be bothered about tilling ridges for vegetables and raising mounds for yam, youths would rather help construction workers dig up trenches to lay communication cables. The latter certainly pays more and immediately, unlike farming that comes after a gestation period.

Some students of the University of Agriculture Makurdi, admitted that they were not too passionate about making agricultural production a livelihood. Although many of them initially responded that they were into agricultural science studies by choice and interest, given the option of a high-paying white collar job in a bank, many agreed that they would take such jobs and hope to earn enough to be able to establish their agricultural production businesses in future.

Yet another problem associated with production is the limited access of women to land. As claimed by a female farmer, Rosemary Hua and admitted by Kwawa, farmland still resides within the family, which leadership is patriarchal. The result is that a woman’s access to land is tied to her husband’s or her son’s interest on the land.

Production would also be much cheaper if loans were easy to access and without tough conditionality, says Prof. Kalu who posits that government needs to stabilise the economy including the cost of transportation. He says failure to do so means that the farmer would have to raise prices to offset cost and settle personal bills on housing and medicals.

Government assistance through improved seedlings and ensuring that agricultural extension officers pay the required visits to rural farmers are other requests made by farmers in Benue State.

However, another lecturer in the University of Agriculture Makurdi, Prof. G.B. Ayoola holds a different view on the issue of food crisis. According to him, increase in price of foodstuff does not necessarily amount to food crisis unless “all feasible alternatives have been threatened or exhausted”. He sees what is playing out as international politics meant to fight back developing countries like Nigeria, following the soar away price of oil. Ayoola said the panic on food is intended to create an expression of dependency on developed countries and international agencies. He claimed that the price of rice in the international market climbed from $900 to $1600 per metric tonne a day after Nigeria announced its plan to spend N80 billion on rice importation.

Be it international politics are the effect of years of neglect or failure to heed the warnings of agencies like ActionAid who flagged off the HungerFREE campaign in 2007 with governments playing the emu to the issue, the truth is that there is hunger in the land today. To the student who pays more for less food in school or the families who cannot meet their daily food and nutrients needs, all they want is food, not the politics of food crisis, food price escalation or food scarcity.

Effanga is Parliamentary Liaison and Policy Advisor with ActionAid Nigeria.

Is Nigeria Fit for children and Youth? A need for renewal of Our Commitment

Today Nigeria celebrate it greatest asset: Youth and Children as it mark National Children. As we may all know that in 1990 Nigeria joined it counter part to sign the African Charter which include among other things the protestation of the right of children and youth

In September 2000, Nigeria also joined other nations to signed the 8-Time bound declaration of universal commitment to development known as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Where are we today? Among all the issues affecting the Nation today, children and youth are mostly affected such as poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, Climate Change and equality.

As a committed YOUTH DEVELOPEMNT ACTORS, I sincerely encourage that we continue to advocate for the passing of the Child Right Bill which is currently in the House of Assembly.

Let us as,young people come to the realization that to meaningfully participate in planning, developing, and evaluating processes in all decisions pertaining to the welfare of young people is to:

• Be active and knowledgeable participants by informing ourselves about law sconcerning our well being
• Have our voices heard by having representations at appropriate levels of policy making
• Take responsibility for our actions and inactions
• Making improvements by taking result-oriented actions
• Involvement by contributing physically, socially and emotionally at all levels
• Devotion and rendering service
• Be better leaders by listening and sharing the knowledge we have gained

Our Demand
1. Governments to immediately domesticate the March 2007 UN Convention for People with Disabilities, especially Articles 16 and 25 of the convention

2. Transformational programmes for stronger recognition of the importance of SRR among the media, the judiciary, medical fraternity, educational and health authorities, religious and cultural institutions.

3. Donors and development partners to invest in policies and programmes that promote an integrated, comprehensive response to SRHR within and aligned with the Maputo Plan of Action and the MDG’S.

4.Policy makers, public sector, researchers, NGOs, private sector, communities and others to foster partnerships and strengthen collaboration to strengthen advocacy, Programme implementation, research, monitoring and evaluation and resource utilization.

So help us God!!

Climate Change Refugges in Nigeria

Nigeria is one of the countries expected to be most affected by the impacts of climate change. through sea level rise along our 800 km long coast line, intensified desertification , erosion and flooding disasters and general land degradation. One prediction is that 'Nigeria will lose close to $9 billion as a result of the catastrophe while, at least, 80 per cent of the inhabitants of the Niger Delta will be displaced due to the low level of the oil-rich region. ..' (Guardian, Monday September 17,2001, p.80).

Already Nigeria Climate Change refuggees are increasing in numbers everyday.

As Nigeria's economy improves, its per capita greenhouse gas emissions may approach those of the developed nations of the world today. This, combined with continued gas flaring and a large population, will further worsen Nigeria' s standing as a key emitter of greenhouse gases globally

Where will be safe for Nigerians in the next 5 yrears?

US Embassy/American Corner Celebrate International Day of Families in Calabar,Nigeria

United state Embassy in Nigeria in Collaboration with American Corner Celebrate the International Day of Families 2008.The theme for the International Day of Familiesilies 2008 is Fathers and Families: Responsibilities and Challenges in the Face of HIV/AIDS

In resolution 47/237 of 20 September 1993, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that 15 May of every year shall be observed as the International Day of Families. The theme for this year’s 2008 observance is “Fathers and Families: Responsibilities and Challenges”, which emphasizes the role of the father in the family and the important responsibilities and special challenges that accompany it

In many families and cultures, the roles and responsibilities of fathers with respectto their children has changed over time. In the extended family system, the responsibilityfor raising children often falls on many family members. Parenting is shared, children arecared for by several family members, and collective fatherhood is practiced. However,with the continuing shift from extended families to more nuclear families, parents aretaking on a more direct role in childrearing, and the influence of fathers on their childrentakes on added significance.
The internationally recognized importance of gender equality and an increasednumber of women, including mothers, participating in the labour force have also broughtabout changes in the expected responsibilities of men and fathers. In many cultures, thereis now an increased emphasis on the father as co-parent, fully involved and activelyparticipating in both the emotional and practical day-to-day aspects of childrearing.

The event is schedule to hold across the eleven centers of Amercan Corner in The country.

In American Corners you will find the collected literature of America’s best writers.
You will find information about American society, culture, policies, politics, history and business.

Friday, May 16, 2008

First Rain in Kano, Northern Nigeria

Climate Change in Nigeria: A very Serious Issue

Climate change is already affecting many places and communities in Africa. The continent is experiencing more droughts in already dry areas and increased rainfall and flooding in areas that are usually wetter.
The impacts of climate change in Nigeria serve as an example of what will happen in many other parts Africa. From mangroves and rainforests on the Atlantic coast in the south to the savannah in the north bordering the Sahara, Nigeria has a variety of ecosystems. While excessive flooding during the past decade has impacted negatively on farming in coastal communities, desertification is ravaging the Sahel.

Traditionally, desertification in the Sahel has been blamed on overgrazing practices of the local population. But it has been discovered that the real problem is climate change. Rainfall in the Sahel has been declining steadily since the 1960s. The result has been the loss of farmlands and the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen over ever decreasing land. This loss of land is considered the root of the conflict in Dafur in Sudan.

Many different communities, including fishermen, farmers and herdsmen are now confronted with difficulties arising from climatic changes. Peoples' livelihoods are being harmed, and already poor people are becoming even more impoverished. Climate refugees are being created, as climate change makes some land unliveable and impacts water supplies.
While Nigeria is not a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions when compared with industrialized countries, it is a major supplier of oil and gas to countries with high greenhouse gas emissions. The exploitation of gas and oil for export from the Niger Delta both contributes to global warming and it also destroys the environment and harms communities living near these projects.

Oil fields in the Niger Delta of Nigeria contain crude oil mixed with very large amounts of gas. Major oil companies operating in Nigeria separate the oil from its associated gas at flow stations, where the gas is simply burned off, serving no useful purpose and contaminating the air and lands for local communities.

For the communities, the effects of gas flaring has been dramatic: continuous noise, rise in temperature in communities close to flare sites, acid rain and retarded crop yield, corroded roofs, respiratory diseases. And the loss of darkness as with the unnatural illumination from gas flares at night. Gas flared in Nigeria, containing high amounts of methane and carbon dioxide-major greenhouse gasses, is also a major contributor to global warming, as it produces emissions that is more than the combined emissions of the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

These oil and gas projects do not provide energy to the people who live in the region. They only pollute their air and lands from the gas flaring by Shell and other major transnational corporations.