UNIC Lagos, choice destination for school excursion

 

UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun addresses the students

UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun addresses the students

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos has continued to be the choice destination for school excursions. In recent months, the Centre has hosted students from both secondary schools as well as the universities. Tuesday, 21st of June 2016, was another day to receive High school students and engage them on issues pertaining to the United Nations mandate. It was the day, Corona Secondary Schools, Agbara Ogun State, came visiting to learn more about the United Nations.Corona school - group

They were treated to three presentations: ‘UN for School children’; ‘UNIC Lagos’ and the Sustainable Development Goals which was followed by an exciting interactive session.

corona - Chika

Chika Ike addressing the students

Responding to the students’ questions, the Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, explained the transition from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and added that the goals were not UN’s but global goals with a 15-year life cycle.

corona - Tosin

Tosin Adebayo addressing the students

On peace and security, he enjoined the students to disregard the misconception that ‘there cannot be peace without a fight’. He said that if everyone first sought peace, there would not be any reason to fight before seeking peace. Mr Soremekun urged them to watch each other’s back and shun violent acts.

Presenting the United Nations history, purpose and organs earlier, Ms Chika Ike, an intern at the United Nations Information Centre, stressed that the UN was formed to prevent future war by promoting global peace and security; develop friendly relations among nations; and work together to improve living conditions of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms.

In his presentation on UNIC Lagos, Mr Tosin Adebayo, also an intern with the Centre, explained to the students that UNIC Lagos, formed in 1967, had a number of regular activities which included school outreach, media outreach, observance of International Days, engagement with NGOs and the academia.

Two video clips on SDGs were screened to the admiration and applause of the students numbering 19 and two teachers.

UNODC RELEASES THREE FILMS TO MARK THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT

UNODC LogoAs part of global efforts to stamp-out sexual violence against women, the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC’s) Country Office in Nigeria recently completed production of three shorts films depicting the harrowing experiences of sex trafficking victims and their families, while also beaming critical searchlight on child labour and exploitation.

The United Nations General Assembly approved on June 19, 2015 by consensus a resolution to commemorate 19 June as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, in an effort to boost the global fight against the horrors faced by women and girls in zones of conflict worldwide. The declaration also aims to raise awareness of the need to end conflict-related sexual violence and urge the international community to stand in solidarity with the survivors of sexual violence around the world.

The three films: Homecoming; Lost children and Kelechi were produced by Homevida, an independence film making entity under the European Union (EU) funded ‘Promoting Better Management of Migration in Nigeria’ project being implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in support of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

While Homecoming portrays the life style of an average, educated family with the desire to have their young daughter school overseas for her undergraduate studies. With the assistance of her aunt, she went to Europe.  However, things did not go as planned because rather than the aunt enrolling her in the University as promised to the parents, seized her travel documents and enrolled the young girl as a sexual commodity to bring financial returns to the aunt. Nonetheless, she managed to escape from the aunt after several years as a sex slave in Europe, travelled back to Nigeria and was rescued by NAPTIP. It also describes the shock of the parents when they learnt what she went through with her aunt and the fact that there was no overseas certificate to celebrate. Rather, their daughter came back empty, traumatised and without anything. Through NAPTIP, the family was able to initiate legal action against the aunt.

The two other films, ‘Lost Children’ and ‘Kelechi’ equally depict the harsh realities of child trafficking, child labour, abuse and ritual killing. Specifically, ‘Lost children’ shows the vulnerability of young girls and boys hawking on the streets and the different risks associated with children who are left unguided by adults. These risks include being kidnapped and sold for ritual purpose, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and/or child pornography. ‘Kelechi’ mirrors domestic abuse and servitude in a modern era. It presents the existentialist experience of the vulnerable members of the society.

The Promoting Better Management of Migration in Nigeria project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in support of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP), the Nigeria Immigration Service and a network of civil society organisations. As part of the project’s strategy to create awareness and illustrate the dangers about Trafficking In Persons (TIP) to the Nigerian audience; especially at communal and grassroots levels, the three short films were produced to illustrate different dimensions of human trafficking.

The project has also adopted “I Am Priceless” as the overarching advocacy slogan and battle cry against sexual exploitation and other forms of exploitations under the ‘Promoting Better Management of Migration in Nigeria’ project.  The slogan is a response to the scourge and suffering caused by Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM), it is an inspirational statement intended to communicate an inestimable sense of value, self-worth and dignity of each and every human life, a core principle in all civilized nations. It also is expected to resonate with the young, vulnerable and often, disenfranchised population while also instilling a sense of empowerment that should counter other negative messages that they have experienced or have been communicated to them since childhood or following a trafficking experience. The slogan is a call to value oneself and to build one’s self esteem positively while defying the use of human beings as property to be traded and exploited.

 

Decent work – A sine qua non for economic growth

Work placeThe concept “decent work”, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration coupled with active participation in decisions that affect lives. The capacity of an economy to produce goods and services which will in turn aid the achievement of fair globalization and reduction in poverty levels can only be made possible through productive employment and decent work.

In many parts of the globe, merely having a job does not guarantee the ability to escape poverty. This is founded on UN findings that nearly 2.2 billion people live below the US$2 poverty line despite the fact that only about 202 million of the world`s population are unemployed. The lack of decent jobs lead people to turn to informal employment which is characterized by low production, low pay and no social protection. This however raises the concern on availability of quality jobs which in turn should translate to decent work.

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 which is geared towards promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; is meant to set a new path to economic growth and development for a country like Nigeria with 112.519 million people living in poverty conditions and over 20 million people without jobs.

The 17 sustainable goals and 169 targets adopted by the United Nations member States are to be met by 2030. The targets for goal 8 includes among others: sustaining per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances; achieving higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation; promoting development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation; achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men including for young people and persons with disabilities; substantially reducing the proportion of youths not in employment, education or training; eradication of forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking; devising and implementing policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promote local cultures and products etc. are to achieved over the next 15 years.

For a timely achievement of the targets of the goal 8, there is a need for well-functioning and transparent institutions that effectively protect properties rights, reduce red-tape, combat corruption and keep nepotism in check are essential. Putting this in place will help create stable and predictable business environment that would encourage investment, create jobs and encourage the production of higher value goods and services in the country.

Both the government and the private sector should provide decent work and a decent work environment for optimal productivity that will stimulate economic growth. No doubt, decent work is a sine qua non for economic growth.                                                                                 Written by Solomon Oduneye (An intern)

Redirecting focus to affordable and clean energy

Goal 7 - English“Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” is the 7th of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Between 1990 and 2010, the number of people with access to electricity has increased by 1.7billion and as the population continue to rise so would the demand for cheap energy rise.

In 2007, lack of rainfall resulted in low level rivers and lakes in Alberia, severely hampering hydro power generation and resulting in frequent power outage of 3.7 hours per day and the Alberia ministry of finance estimated that this costs the country as much as one per cent of the growth.

Most of the countries that are facing the issue of clean energy are regarded as third world countries, that is, the less developed countries, small island and under-developed countries. No country should be exempted from clean energy because everyone needs energy for their daily activities and without the use of energy, activities cannot be done and industries would be at a loss.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the government agency responsible for regulating operations in the electricity sector, reported that as of 29 May 2016, energy generated was MWh 56,155 and energy sent out being MWh 47,480 as against 05 June 2016 energy generated (62,617) while 61,506 MWh was sent out. Total Constrained Generation MW as of 29 May 2016 stood at 3,958 MW which rose to 4,183 as of 05 June 2016.

The above is still a far cry from the ideal given the size of Nigeria and the strategic importance of electricity to sustainable economic development. There is need to make clean energy affordable to the majority of the population. Nigeria has the resources and the human capital to develop and deploy clean and affordable energy: The wind vane technology will thrive in the northern part of the country; and Solar technology can be deployed anywhere in the country.

Goal 7: ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ has five targets amongst which are: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services; By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix; By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology.

Are these achievable? Yes, they are. If policy makers in the developing countries of the world redirect their focus and energies towards provision of affordable and clean energy, then achieving the targets would surely fall in place. No doubt, when Goal 7 and its targets are largely met, the economy gets galvanized, the people get profitably engaged and the well-being of the generality of the population improved.                                                                               Written by Ibukun Olumuyiwa (An intern)

 

Preserve our natural heritage – UN Secretary General

National Information Officer, UNIC Lagos, Mr OLUSEYI Soremekun plants a tree to commemorate the 2016 World Environment Day

National Information Officer, UNIC Lagos, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun plants a tree to commemorate the 2016 World Environment Day

The United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon has urged everyone to overcome indifference, combat greed and act to preserve our natural heritage for the benefit of this and future generations.

In a message delivered by the National Information officer, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, at the event marking the Word Environment Day, organised by the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES) in collaboration with the UNIC and Lagos State Parks and Gardens (LASPARK), with the theme “Go Wild for Life” on Friday, 3rd of June 2016, the Secretary General noted that ‘this year’s observance of World Environment Day shines a much-needed spotlight on the trade in wildlife and there is now a grave cause for alarm. The businesses and individuals involved are motivated solely by short- term gain at the expense of long- term benefit to communities and habitats.’

Mr Ban added that the campaign “Wild for Life” asks everyone to pledge to end illegal trade in wildlife, from ordinary citizens, who can ensure they do not buy prohibited products, to governments, who can pursue change through implementing effective policies to protect species and ecosystems.

The Guest Speaker, Dr Mayowa Fasona of the Department of Geography, University of Lagos (UNILAG) stated that the first law of ecology is  ”Everything is connected to everything”. As he spoke on the ecosystem and conservation of plants and animals, he gave in-depth details and statistics on the conservation of wild life focusing on how to keep wildlife from extinction and also protecting the ones almost extinct.

The Chairman of NES, Dr Eugene Itua, in his remarks noted that “Saving wildlife and wilderness is the sole responsibility of all people”.

Dr Iyabo Phillips who was the representative of the Lagos State Commissioner of the Environment thanked the participants for attending the programme and stated that “Children are the change agents and the future generation, if the wildlife is not conserved, the future of the children will be bleak”.

She encouraged the students at the programme not to kill insects or wildlife but rather protect them. Dr Iyabo explained that wildlife involved both plants and animals because they needed to co-exist.

To conclude the event, UNIC Lagos representative, Mr Soremekun planted a tree at the Ndubuisi Kanu Park, Alausa, Ikeja, the venue of the programme. The second tree was planted by Dr Iyabo Phillips. Over 100 people attended the programme.

Saving 1000 children who die daily from water and sanitation-related diseases

Hand washing“Water has no enemy” goes a saying. Then, how can the world have access to this ‘water’ that is supposed to be everyone’s friend? The world we live in cannot be sustained without access to clean water for all. No doubt, there is enough water on planet earth to ensure access to clean water. According to the United Nations, “But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.”

The global statistics are looking too good: 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources since 1990, but 663 million people are still without; At least 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is fecally contaminated; Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of the global population using an improved drinking water source has increased from 76 per cent to 91 per cent; But water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise. Over 1.7 billion people are currently living in river basins where water use exceeds recharge; 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines; More than 80 per cent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal; and Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrhoeal diseases.

The above challenges need to be addressed seriously and one of the ways the entire world, of course, including Nigeria, is looking at this is through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 6 seeks to ensure access to water and sanitation for all.

To achieve the above Goal 6, a number of targets have been identified. These include: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all; By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations; By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally; By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity; By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate; and by 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes; among others.

Linked to water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation are challenges of food insecurity, livelihood and educational opportunities. Drought worsens hunger and cases of malnutrition in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The situation not beyond redemption. Something needs to be done. Someone needs to do something. The government needs to prioritise the water and sanitation sector to improve the health and wellbeing of its citizenry.

Clean water and sanitation is at the core of national development. The nation’s productivity would be strengthened if the workforce gets sick very few times due to improved access to clean water and sanitation.

To the people we say desist from open defecation; do not defecate or empty solid waste into the river which many, down the stream, use as their main source of water. Your health is the nation’s wealth.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, ‘Ensure access to water and sanitation for all’, is a call to action to save this generation and yet to come, from this unfolding tragedy where nearly 1,000 innocent children who have the fundamental right to be cared for and be protected die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrhoeal diseases.

 

Education is a human right, claim it!

A student of Covenant University Secondary School curating his school's works.

We live in a world where things are not balanced. We have the good and the bad, poor and the rich, small and the big, Also, there are educated ones and the non-educated. Education remains an issue in the sub-Sahara and other developing countries. Occupying the No 4 on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) list, inclusive and quality education is no doubt, the foundation to improving people’s lives. For clarity, SDG 4 seeks to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Education needs to be taken more seriously in view of the state of education in the developing countries.

According to the United Nations, enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 per cent but 57 million children remain out of school; More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa; An estimated 50 per cent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas; and 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 per cent of them are women.

As regards literacy, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) noted that over 757million adults worldwide still lack basic literacy skills with about two-third of them being women from Nigeria.

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has it that Primary school enrolment has increased in recent years, but net attendance is only about 70 per cent, but Nigeria still has 10.5 million out-of-school children – the world’s highest number. Sixty per cent of those children are in northern Nigeria. About 60 per cent of out-of-school children are girls. Many of those who do enrol drop out early.

It is estimated that about 4.7 million of primary school age are still not in school also it was discovered that about 30% of pupils drop out of primary school and only 54% transit to junior secondary schools in 2015. UNESCO (2010) further puts the value for school enrolment Pre-primary (%gross) in Nigeria at 13.39.

To turn around the statistics presented earlier, SDG 4 has stated some targets, among which are “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes; By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education; By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university; By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.

All the ten targets under Goal 4 are achievable by 2030, provided the government strengthens its policies and management of the education sector while the people in all the regions of Nigeria seize the opportunity of free basic education offered by the government.

Basic education is free in Nigeria. Therefore, there is no reason why any parent will not send his or her child to school. Besides, education is a fundamental human right which should not be denied any child. Let everyone claim it.                                                                                           Written by Oluwatoniloba Itabiyi (An intern)

Healthy lives and well-being for all, a 2030 agenda for everyone

SGWe live in a world where more than six million children die before their fifth birthday each year and where children of educated mothers, including those with only Primary education are more likely to survive than children of mothers with no education. In the same vein, only half of women in developing regions receive the recommended amount of health care they need and where Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age worldwide.

It is in the light of the above that the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’ targets that by 2030,there will be a reduction in the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births; an end to preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births; and by 2030, achieve an end to the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases.

Imagine a world free of diseases and sick persons, and with reduced mortality cases! it is only possible with the participation of everyone in achieving these goals. If everyone works towards the goal and its targets, by 2020, the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents would have been halved; while ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes. Also, concerted efforts of everyone on SDG 3 will also lead to the achievement of universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

‘Leave no one behind’ is the rallying call of the SDGs. Let us operationalise it. Let this be the guiding principle of the government in the implementation of the SDG 3 and in fact, all the 17 SDGs and the 169 targets. Everyone has a role to play in achieving the goals, the Government, Private Sector, Civil Society, Community Group and Individuals, we all are involved in the drive to achieving a sustainable solution to the health challenges.

Let’s join hands to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all.                                    Written by Oluwatosin Adebayo (An intern)

Ending poverty is a goal for all

Goal 1 pixPoverty knows no tribe or race; it knows no religion; and it is not peculiar to any gender. Little wonder, it is the first on the list of seventeen goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to the United Nations, about one in five persons in developing regions lives on less than $1.25 per day while 836 million people still live in extreme poverty; overwhelming majority of people living on less than $1.25 a day belong to two regions: Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa; and sadly, one in four children under age five in the world has inadequate height for his or her age. The latest of United Nations Development programme (UNDP) multidimensional poverty index also reveals that almost 1.5 million people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standard.

The National Bureau of statistics (NBS) notes that in Nigeria, 50.9 percent of the population (88,425 thousand people) are multidimensional poor while an additional 18.4 percent live near multidimensional poverty (32,001 thousand people). The breadth of deprivation (intensity) in Nigeria, which is the average of deprivation scores experienced by people in multidimensional poverty, according to NBS, is 54.8 percent.

It is instructive to note that in Nigeria, the North has the highest average poverty rate of states in the country with North -West at 71.4 per cent followed by North-East 69.1 per cent and North Central, 60.7 per cent. The record showed that poverty was least prevalent in the South-West, with an average of 49.8 per cent, followed by South-South, 55.5 per cent and South-East, 59.5 per cent.

As regards unemployment, the rate is 12.1%, underemployment (19.1%) and youth unemployment/ underemployment (42.24%) for the year 2016. From the foregoing statistics on poverty and unemployment/ underemployment, it is clear that ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’ should be on the front burner of development initiatives.

Within the framework of SDGs, the United Nations and its member States have set a goal that by 2030, poverty shall be eradicated everywhere. The targets include reduction of at least half of the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all dimensions according to national definitions; implementation of nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors and by 2030 achieving substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable; as well as ensure equal distribution of the economic resources as well as the basic necessities.                                                                                                                     Written by Nicole Chukwuka (An Intern)