Shun slavery as all human beings are born free and equal in dignity – UNIC

Against the backdrop of modern day slavery as exemplified by forced migration, forced labour and human trafficking, the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja, has called on everyone to shun all forms of slavery as all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. “The right to liberty and security”, he said, “is a fundamental human right that must be respected and no one should hold anyone in slavery or servitude”.

He said this at the weekend in Calabar, Cross River State, South-East Nigeria, during the educational briefing of students as part of activities marking the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, organised by UNIC Lagos and the Cross River State Government.

Addressing over 200 students from 10 High Schools, Mr Kayanja who was represented by UNIC National Information Officer, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, urged that “Those in position of power and influence at all levels including the family unit, should desist from exploiting and taking advantage of the vulnerable ones who are not in position to withhold consent to servitude.”

Explaining the theme for this year’s observance, “Remember Slavery: Recognising the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent”, the UNIC Director explained that it focused on the ways in which enslaved Africans and their descendants influenced and continued to shape societies around the world, including in the areas of technology and culture; as well as the persistent spirit and innovation of the people in communities affected by the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Declaring the International Day open, the Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, represented by the Commissioner Ministry of International Development Cooperation (MIDC), Hon Francis Ettah, acknowledged that Calabar was eminently qualified to host the ‘Remember Slavery’ programme in Nigeria due to its strategic importance as a slave port during the period of Slave Trade and thanked the United Nations for making Cross River the destination when it decided to take the observance out of Lagos for the first time.

He disclosed that the same year the UN General Assembly established the ‘Remember Slavery’ Programme in 2007, the Cross River State Government also established the Calabar Slave Museum, an indication that the State government and the UN were thinking alike.

Hon Ettah therefore urged the students not to allow themselves to be lured into slavery under the pretext of greener pastures.

The educational briefing was preceded by a public awareness rally led by the Commissioner MIDC, Hon Ettah, Permanent Secretary of  MIDC, Dr Gabriel Akpeke and UNIC National Information Officer Oluseyi Soremekun. The rally which was spiced up by music with intermittent messages of ‘Remember Slavery’, was started from the Government Secretariat and terminated at WAPI school, the venue of the briefing.

The students were treated to a film screening tiled, ‘Queen Nanny: The Legendary Maroon Chieftainess’; a Poster Exhibition as well as a rendition by the WAPI school choir after which 30 students who answered correctly, questions drawn from the film, were taken to the ‘Slave History Museum’ at Marina Resort, Calabar.

Sharing her experience, Magdalene Francis, a 17-year old student of WAPI School said, “I was touched. I felt bad and it was as if I was the victim.” “I learnt a lot today. I want to thank UNIC and Cross River State Government for the opportunity to learn about Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” said Christopher Edet, a 17-year old student of WAPI.

UN General Assembly, in December 2007, declared 25 March the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, to be observed annually.

 

Fanfare in Lagos as UNIC marks mother language day, urges parents to encourage mother tongue at home

Language is culture and a way of life. Little wonder it was all fun and fanfare in Lagos: Traditional drummers in their elements, display of traditional dance steps, oral poetry rendition in Yoruba language, participants in gorgeous traditional attires, educational briefing of students in Yoruba Language and at a venue decorated with cultural artefacts, all combined to make Tuesday, 21 February 2017, truly the International Mother Language Day in Nigeria.

Organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with the Lagos Education District 1, Agege, and observed in the 99 schools under the administration of the District, the Mother Language Day event also featured the launch of the Guidelines on the use of Yoruba Language on Thursdays, at the Assembly Ground of all Public schools in the District. By the Guidelines, all public schools must on Thursdays conduct the Assembly Ground activities in Yoruba Language.

Addressing the over 400 participants at the observance of the 2017 International Mother Language Day in Lagos, the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Mr Ronald Kayanja urged parents to teach and encourage their children to speak in their mother tongue. “Master your mother language. Teach and encourage your children to speak their mother language”, he said.

Explaining the 2017 theme: ‘Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education’, the Director noted that “To foster sustainable development, learners must have access to education in their mother tongue and in other languages. It is through the mastery of the first language or mother tongue that the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy are acquired. Local languages, especially minority and indigenous, transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge, thus playing an important role in promoting sustainable futures.”

Mr Kayanja whose message was interpreted in Yoruba language by the National Information Officer of UNIC Lagos, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, therefore, called on teachers to desist from cautioning students who speak in the mother tongue. “The era of ‘Do not speak in the vernacular’ is gone. The United Nations General Assembly has called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.” He said.

Mr Kayanja added that “promoting the mother language is part of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ and I want to commend the Lagos State Government for its commitment to promoting the mother language in schools”.

Clad in the traditional Yoruba attire, the Tutor General and Permanent Secretary of Lagos Education District 1, Dr (Mrs) Olufolayimika Ayandele, noted that the launch of the Guidelines was meant to draw attention to the need to promote mother language speaking, reading, listening, writing, teaching and learning. She said further that any student who has mastered the mother tongue would find other subjects easier if thought in the mother tongue.

“Besides”, the Tutor General continued, “a good understanding of the mother language, would not impede the development and the performances of the students in any field they have chosen,” she continued, “All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world.”

The International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62) and has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Promote conservation, sustainable use of land resources

The survival of man depends on land and the ecosystem. To ensure that life on land is preserved and kept safe for both humans and animals, environmental menace, land degradation, deforestation and pollution of all kinds must be checked.  This is why everyone has to work towards achieving the goals and targets of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: To protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

SDG 15, simply referred to as ‘Life on Land’, targets preserving diverse forms of life on land. This requires promoting the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial and other ecosystem resources. This is not only critical for human lives, but also imperative to preserve the lives of animal species such as amphibians, birds and mammals that are on the verge of extinction.  Environmental activities by humans that also affect the safety of life on land, especially for animas include poaching, and trafficking of wildlife.

Land and Forest are important resources that sustain life on land. However in Nigeria, these resources are depleting due to land degradation, deforestation and pollution. These depleting factors arise due to over-use and inappropriate use of technologies and urbanization.  In fact, Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment records show that major factors that cause land degradation include deforestation resulting from multiple uses of forest resources for human survival (e.g. fuel wood and energy, housing etc.), poaching and mineral exploration(Mining). The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) also recorded that in the first half of the year 2007 a total of 424 spill incidents involving 33,799 barrels of oil. Hence, the resultant heat stress and acid rain continues to degrade the ecosystem. As a result, we are constantly exposed to the hazards of highly polluted gaseous and dust emissions from industries and vehicles and dangerous industrial wastes that are constantly being discharged into the environment.

Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Environment and the United Nations have both made several efforts to ensure that life on land is secured in Nigeria as well as globally. However, these efforts can be aided if everyone can likewise promote activities that conserve and ensure sustainable use of land and forest resources. For example, The Great Green Wall Program, is a Pan African Initiative which is set up to address land degradation and desertification, boost food security and support communities to adapt to climate change in the Sahel-Sahara region of Africa while the Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) was set-up by Nigeria Ministry of Environment with the aid of the World Bank, to respond to the gully erosion and degradation challenges that was plaguing the country as at 2010.

Also, to mitigate the glaring cases of deforestation and conserve endangered species in the Niger Delta region, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched a project being executed by the Niger Delta Biodiversity Conservation Project in collaboration with community members who play crucial roles in the conservation and protection of forests as they are the custodians of natural resources, living around the forests and relying on the land to provide food, medicines, and energy for their subsistence. More so, The Niger Delta Biodiversity Project (NDBP) an initiative of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) carried out some activities, among which is the implementation of Community Biodiversity Action Plan (CBAP), within four  Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers, which were captured in the five-year biodiversity conservation program which commenced in 2014. These and many more efforts have been made by the Nigerian government and the United Nations System to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal15.

However, it is important to re-emphasize the need for commitment from everyone to promote the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial resources through simple activities such as planting for trees, desisting from poaching, avoiding bush burning and illicit oil exploration.

Written by Ifeoluwa Akinola (An intern)

 

Not all wastes are wastes, recycle and reuse

There must be sufficient production before there is sufficient consumption. When consumption exceeds production, then there is a problem. When there is consumption of products, there needs to be a replacement, otherwise, there will be a deficit. Consumption leads to waste production but then not all wastes are wastes. Some wastes can be recycled and reused as raw materials in the production of other products. Most of the wastes produced in the world today come from what individuals consume. Little wonder Sustainable Development Goal 12 seeks to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

As emphasized by Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF), “SDG 12 seeks to open a new world to humankind, where not just a few people undertake sustainable consumption, but where reducing, reusing, preventing and recycling will be common for everyone. The effects of such a sustainable lifestyle go beyond preserving the earth’s natural resources, as it can help in reducing the increasingly widening gap between the rich and the poor. Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources.

The Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF) emphasizes that the sustainable growth and development of a country is measured by how well they are doing in terms of production and not consumption. It involves minimizing “the natural resources and toxic materials used; the waste and pollutants generated throughout the entire production and consumption process.” As we consume, we are not to dispose all that we consume but rather look for ways to get more produced out of the wastes generated by the consumed goods. Production does not only come from fresh materials or fresh farm produce, production can come from waste if effectively recycled. For example, bio-fuels are produced from animal and farm wastes, manure are produced from sewage and decomposed refuse.

Target 5 of the Sustainable Development Goal 12 therefore, focuses on ensuring that by 2030, member countries would have substantially reduced waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse. Hence, Goal 12 can be achieved when countries understand the importance of aligning production to meet up with consumption through proper waste management. The efficient management of our shared natural resources, and the way we dispose of toxic wastes and pollutants, are important targets to achieve this goal. Encouraging industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste is equally important, as is supporting developing countries to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030.

Wastes management is not just going to happen only through the efforts of the government. Individuals need to develop, cultivate and imbibe the culture of responsible production and consumption even within the home and office environments. From water usage to printing on papers, everyone must adjust to responsible consumption and production. We all need to contribute our own quota. Proper use of products and less consumption of what is not needed are ways through which individuals can help the government. Not all wastes are useless, dispose well and recycle for reuse.

Written by Ms Olaide Olumide (An intern)

UNIC Lagos, UNESCO Abuja promote ‘Radio is you’ theme, gives radio sets to listeners

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with UNESCO Abuja,  on 13 February 2017, organized live discussion programmes on three radio stations, of which one is an indigenous language broadcast station.

Speaking on the 2017 theme of the World Radio Day, ‘Radio is You’, UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, explained that the theme was a call for greater participation of audiences and communities in radio broadcasting process. Audience participation in radio broadcasting, he said, should go beyond simple on-air interaction. “Radio audience should be involved in programme planning and development to ensure maximum impact,” he added.

At 8:15 a.m., Mr Soremekun featured on Radio One 103.5 FM and spoke about the 2017 World Radio Day; and at 9:15 a.m. he came on air at Radio Continental on the programme, ‘Top 9 at 9’ where he articulated 9 ways radio impacts the lives of the people and bringing in the theme, ‘Radio is You’ at intervals. At 11:30, he moved to Bond FM 92.9 FM, an indigenous language broadcast station where he conveyed the message of the 2017 World Radio Day in Yoruba language. It was very participatory as the audience also called in and also linked up on Facebook and twitter to be a part of the discussion.
On each of the programmes/ stations, every first caller to participate in the discussion was rewarded with a radio set made available by UNESCO Abuja while three other contributors via telephone and Twitter were also rewarded for their contributions. In all, six radio sets were given to listeners.

World Radio Day was first celebrated in 2012, following its declaration by the UNESCO General Conference. It was subsequently adopted as an International Day by the United Nations General Assembly. Previous annual themes have included gender equality, youth participation, and radio in humanitarian and disaster situations. In 2016, more than 380 World Radio Day events were held in more than 80 different countries.

Encourage Girls To Study Science – UNIC Director

As the world marked the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Mr. Ronald Kayanja has underscored the need to encourage girls to study science subjects and explore careers in the Sciences to break the socio-cultural barriers that discourage girls and women from making career choices in science and technology.

“More girls and young women should be encouraged to go into the Sciences as “there are no subjects for boys and another for girls, what boys can do, you (girls) can do even better.” Mr Kayanja said while speaking at the 2017 International Day for Women and Girls in Science event organized by UNIC and ‘Yes I believe Academy’ (YIBA) at Supreme Education Foundation School, Magodo Lagos.

Attended by 200 girls from three Secondary Schools, the observance featured presentations by women in the Sciences as well as a playlet by the students of Supreme Education Foundation. The United Nations (UN) has declared every 11th day of February as International Day for Women and Girls in Science, due to its concern about changing the trend of gender inequality in the Sciences and its commitment to increasing the participation of more girls and young women in Science,”

In Africa, Mr Kayanja explained, fewer girls are in the Sciences. This he said is due primarily to the socio-cultural belief that sciences are meant for boys and not for girls and secondarily to lack of motivation from parents to make girls pursue career choices in Science.  He enjoined that girls and women must be empowered at every level, in learning and research across all scientific fields.

In his message on the observance, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres observed that for too long, discriminatory stereotypes have prevented women and girls from having equal access to education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). “These stereotypes” according to him, “are flat wrong. They deny women and girls the chance to realize their potential – and deprive the world of the ingenuity and innovation of half the population.”

He urged commitment to end bias, greater investments in STEM education for all women and girls as well as opportunities for their careers and longer-term professional advancement so that all can benefit from their ground-breaking future contributions.

Obviously inspired by the speakers, who were all women with thriving careers in the Sciences, the girls, during the interactive session, expressed their willingness to pursue careers in science and technology. The need to offer mentoring opportunities to young women scientists to assist in their career development was repeatedly stressed by the speakers.

Participants attended from Supreme Education Foundation Schools, Ostra Heights Schools and Veritas Schools, Lagos.

Production, not consumption can help achieve SDG-9

According to the Bureau of Statistics on Industrial development in Nigeria, over half of the gross domestic product (GDP) is accounted for by the primary sector with agriculture continuing to play an important role. The oil and gas sector, in particular, continues to be a major driver of the economy, accounting for over 95 per cent of export earnings and about 85 per cent of government revenue between 2011 and 2012. The sector contributed 14.8 and 13.8 per cent to GDP in 2011 and 2012, respectively.  Generally, the United Nations statistics shows that in developing countries, small-scale industries accounted for an estimated 15 per cent to 20 per cent of value added and 25 per cent to 30 per cent of total industrial employment in 2015. However, access to reliable, affordable and resilient innovation, industrialization and infrastructure remains a problem.

The Sustainable Development Goal 9 aims at three important aspects that can aid sustainable development: infrastructure, industrialization and innovation. Infrastructure provides the basic physical systems and structures essential to the operation of a society or enterprise. Industrialization drives economic growth, creates job opportunities and thereby reduces income poverty. Innovation advances the technological capabilities of industrial sectors and prompts the development of new skills. These aspects of the goal requires the commitment of the government, private and public stakeholders and investors for it to impact the growth of the country’s economy.

According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), technological progress is a key foundation of efforts to achieve environmental objectives, such as increased resource and energy-efficiency, adding that without technology and innovation, industrialization will not happen, and without industrialization, development will not happen. “Investments in infrastructure – transport, irrigation, energy and information and communication technology – are crucial to achieving sustainable development and empowering communities in many countries. It has long been recognized that growth in productivity and incomes, and improvements in health and education outcomes require investment in infrastructure”, UNIDO stated.

A major aspect of infrastructural development are road and transportation. Although these basic infrastructure remain inadequate in Nigeria, their availability can promote economic growth. Infrastructural development in these two areas will indeed help to achieve a target of SDG 9 to develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all. In particular, infrastructural development in these areas will also play a critical enabler role; increasing the impact of nearly all other sectors of the economy.

Nigeria needs to invest not only in infrastructure but also in innovation which is also a crucial driver of economic growth and development; especially as new industries, information and communication technologies are becoming important drivers of the Nigerian economy. Apparently, it was in the light of this that on 22 May 2016, Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, said that Nigeria needed the support of UNIDO to successfully implement its industrialization plans, policies and programmes to achieve economic diversification, poverty reduction, employment generation and wealth creation. “We need the support of international developmental agencies like UNIDO to implement our economic diversification plans, policies and programmes, including the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan. UNIDO has the technical expertise and global interconnectivity so they can help us connect the dots,” He said.

Despite efforts by the Nigerian government to advocate the use of local contents in the manufacturing sector, provide financial facilities for Medium and Small Scale Enterprises, and establish initiatives such as “Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan” (NIRP), the country’s level of development in the key areas of sustainable development seems low. This indicates that Nigeria still needs to do more to move from selling just raw materials, and move into more value-added manufacturing activities. The country can and must produce what its population consumes. The more a country specializes in the production of raw materials only, the poorer it becomes because Industry multiplies National wealth. In fact, no country has ever become rich by exporting raw materials without also having an industrial sector, and in modern terms an advanced service sector.

Therefore, as Nigeria aspires to join the league of developed nations worldwide, and as it aspires to achieve the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 9, the nation needs to move from being a consumer to being a producer.

Written by Ms Ifeoluwa Akinola (An intern)

Productive employment and decent work for all is achievable

Coming out of the university, some of us look forward to that day that we would start working and contributing our own quota to the development of our dear country. Some of us even further our studies to the Masters and Ph.D. level and even take professional courses. Sadly, despite these degrees, most people cannot boast of a decent job or good working environment. So we ask ourselves, what exactly is wrong? Don’t we have what it takes to get a decent job or are there no jobs? The criticality of this situation perhaps propelled the 193 member States of the United Nations to include in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the need to “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” as the eighth goal of the SDGs.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the number of unemployed persons globally in 2017 is forecast to stand at just over 201 million – with an additional rise of 2.7 million expected in 2018 – as the pace of labour force growth outstrips job creation. Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) states that unemployment stood at 6.4% for the final quarter of 2014 in Nigeria, increased to 7.5% for the first three months of 2015 and had further risen from 13.3 per cent in the 2nd quarter to 13.9 per cent in the 3rd quarter of 2016. In the report, NBS notes the number of people that were unemployed or underemployed increased from 24.4 million as at the end of the first quarter of 2016 to 26.06 million persons. The report reads in part, “The number of underemployed in the labour force (those working but doing menial jobs not commensurate with their qualifications or those not engaged in fulltime work and merely working for few hours) increased by 392,390 or 2.61 per cent resulting in an increase in the underemployment rate to 19.3 per cent in Q2 2016 from 19.1 per cent in Q1 2016.”

The above statistics show that Nigeria is not insulated against the global trend of rising unemployment. The deduction from this is that the rate at which the labour force is growing is faster than the rate of job creation. This also means that the few jobs that are available are not enough for the unemployed. Hence, the labour market is becoming more fierce and more competitive and most people just settle for any job even though it is not decent enough. So the saying “half a loaf is better than none” then makes most unemployed persons take any job offered to them no matter how degrading the job might seem.

The lack of decent jobs is causing issues such as social unrest, suicide, terrorism and migration in many parts of the world. The GDP of countries with less job creation has reduced and this has affected the economic growth of these countries. This is because the economic growth of a country is mostly determined by the GDP of such country. ILO explains, “Labour productivity (measured by GDP per worker) spurs economic growth. Growth in labour productivity in developing regions far outpaced that of developed regions, especially in Asia. Despite rapid growth in some developing regions, labour productivity remains far higher in the developed regions. In 2015, the average worker in developed regions produced 23 times the annual output of an average worker in sub-Saharan Africa (which has the lowest labour productivity in developing regions), and 2.5 times that of an average worker in Western Asia (which has the highest labour productivity in developing regions).”

SDG 8 aims at fostering “sustained economic growth, higher levels of productivity and technological innovation,” and among its targets is the imperative of achieving full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men by 2030.

Efforts need to be channeled towards aggressive job creation, international cooperation, entrepreneurship and skills training of citizens, creating a better working condition for the employed, while promoting decent employment. It is achievable. Full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men by 2030, that is.

Written by Ms Olaide Olumide (An intern)

Mother earth weeps, Save the earth

As a result of increase in human activities which requires so much energy, our planet has become over-heated. We have polluted the environment with too many toxic wastes that have increased the global temperature. Consequently, our green planet is now unhealthy and unsafe for us. Thus, we have jeopardised our health, environment and climate. In fact, mother earth weeps now. Therefore, we need to save ourselves and the earth as our future energy requirements continue to grow with increase in living standards, industrialization and a host of other socio-economic factors. We need to embrace the use of clean energy sources. We need to invest more in maximising the resources that renewable energy can offer. Besides, renewable energy sources are not only sustainable, but are also cheap, reliable and healthy for the environment.

Therefore, to salvage our green planet from dying; the 7th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” Its targets include ensuring that there is universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services. It also aimed at increasing the proportion of the population with access to electricity. And to increase the proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology.  Ability to achieve this goal and its targets will go a long way to eradicate poverty and promote advanced health, promote sustainable industrialization, improve education as well as ensure clean water supply.

Local, renewable energy provides a healthy, more affordable and practical energy solutions for people living in the rural areas who are hitherto cut-off from electricity supply. Also, several millions of naira can be saved in accumulated energy cost when energy is properly managed. For instance, wind, solar, and hydroelectric systems generate electricity with no associated air pollution emissions. Geothermal and biomass energy systems emit some air emissions that are generally much lower than those of coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. Wind and solar energy require little or no water to operate and thus do not pollute water resources or strain supply by competing with agriculture, drinking water systems, or other important water needs.

In contrast, fossil fuels can have a significant impact on water resources.  Furthermore, both coal mining and natural gas drilling can pollute sources of drinking water. Natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) requires large amounts of water and all thermal power plants, including those powered by coal, gas, and oil, withdraw and consume water for cooling. Hence they compete with humans and also pollute the water resources. Therefore it is beneficial for us to preserve the purity of our planet and the well-being of us the inhabitants by embracing a safer, cleaner and much more sustainable means of energy.

Nigeria is relatively endowed with abundant fossil fuels and other renewable energy sources, yet the energy situation in the country is yet to be structured and managed in such a way as to ensure sustainable energy development. Statistical reports from UNDP shows that only 47% of her population have access to electricity because of economic and technological drawbacks while about 53 percent of her inhabitants do not have access to electricity for their domestic needs. Unfortunately too, the socio-economic condition of many Nigerians especially in the rural areas deprives them access to clean energy. They cannot install solar panels in their homes as an alternative to electricity. Neither do they have the knowledge about practical ways of using clean energy solutions. It is also even more unfortunate that the supply of electricity even to the urban areas is epileptic. Hence, most Nigerians in rural and urban centres still lack access to clean energy.

A number of interventions have been implemented by the UN system in collaboration with the government of Nigeria: UNDP Access to Renewable Energy Programme was established to focus on increasing the national capacity to invest in and utilize renewable energy resources, and to improve the access to modern energy services for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); Bank of Industry and UNDP collaborated to increase national capacity to invest in and utilize renewable energy resources to improve access to modern energy services for MSMEs and other households; the Federal Ministry of Environment initiated the Renewable Energy Programme as part of the country’s commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and as part of African strategy on voluntary emission reduction.

Also, 10 rural women Cooperatives were empowered with the Rural Women Energy Security project (RUWES) Business Model Package-tricycle loaded with the cleaner energy lighting and cooking kits aimed at creating viable market potentials for the women while creating jobs for foundry workers, welders, mechanics to mention a few in cook-stoves production. In addition to this, The National Clean Cooking Scheme (NCCS) was also set-up to reduce and eventually eliminate cooking with solid and fossil fuels such as firewood and kerosene, which are expensive and difficult to source while being detrimental to our health and the environment at large. The Rural Energy Access Project (REAP) and The Renewable Energy Programme (REP) were successfully embarked on to ensure Rural Electrification, providing and installing Stand Alone Solar Systems for 600 households as well as training in Mutum Biu, Gassol LGA, Taraba State.

No doubt, much have been done by the government, but there is need to do more. Mother earth weeps. It is the responsibility of all to act now and save the earth.

Written by Ms Ifeoluwa Akinola (An intern)

Clean water for all is good health for all

Water is an essential nutrient needed for metabolic activities in the body. Access to safe, affordable and clean water prevents a lot of diseases. Safe water is important to a country because it does not only contribute to and ensure good health of its citizens, but also contributes to the sustainable development of such a country. When the citizens of a country have access to fresh, affordable and accessible water, the prevalence of diseases reduces drastically and the quality of life increases. Provision of accessible safe water is one of the most effective means of ensuring good life.

However, water scarcity, lack of clean water, inadequate water facilities and inadequacy of clean water are factors that affect the availability of safe water. Water scarcity, according to UNICEF, affects more than 40 percent of people around the world. This is a percent which has been projected to increase as a result of increase in global warming and climate change. Scarcity of safe and affordable water has posed a serious challenge to the entire continents in the world.

As a result of this challenge, the UN has included the affordability and accessibility of safe and clean water sanitation for all in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is seen in Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all; and Target 6.1 which calls for achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. This is to ensure that the entire world can boast of access to safe and affordable water by 2030. In order to achieve this, the United Nations has called on its member states and the entire world to “…protect and restore water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers to mitigate water scarcity.” Also, cooperation from international bodies is needed to help combat the problem of water scarcity, water pollution and unaffordable water in the world before 2030.

Nevertheless, Nigeria has been able to make substantial progress in making policies and developing strategies for clean water supply, but faces challenges in putting these policies and strategies into action. According to UNICEF, about 70 million people, out of a population of 171 million, lacked access to safe drinking water, and over 110 million lacked access to improved sanitation in 2013. Open defecation rates, at 28.5 percent pose grave public health risks. Every year, an estimated 124,000 children under the age of 5 die because of diarrhea, mainly due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. Lack of adequate water and sanitation are also major causes of other diseases, including respiratory infection and under-nutrition. The amount of clean water on earth is limited, and its quality is under constant pressure due to water pollution and climate change.

Therefore, preservation of the quality of clean water is important for the “drinking-water supply, food production and recreational water use.” UNICEF has so far contributed to the eradication of guinea worm disease in Nigeria. In 2013, Nigeria was certified free of the disease. Also, WHO and UNICEF are working with government partners to improve monitoring of drinking water services. Drinking water quality is now being measured directly in household surveys, and governments are improving their capacity for surveillance and regulation of drinking water supplies, generating information that can be used for global as well as national monitoring.

In conclusion, clean water is important to our well -being. Drinking good water can prevent a lot of diseases. Dumping of wastes into rivers and streams is one of the ways of making water poisonous and hence resulting in a more complex disease. Let us all make efforts to make water available and safe for drinking and for use. Let us stop dumping wastes in our waters and also stop the release of toxic chemicals into the air. A clean water for all is a good health for all.

Written by Ms Olaide Olumide (An intern)