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SDG 4: Quality Education – The Nigerian Focus

Quality education is one that provides all learners with capabilities they require to become economically productive, develop sustainable livelihoods, contribute to peaceful and democratic societies and enhance individual well-being.

Remarkably, major progress has been made in access to education, specifically at the primary school level, for both boys and girls. Still, at least 22 million children in 43 countries will miss out on pre-primary education unless the rate of progress doubles.

According to the United Nations Development Programme statistics

  • Enrollment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 percent.
  • Still, 57 million primary-aged children remain out of school, more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In developing countries, one in four girls is not in school.
  • About half of all out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas.
  • 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 percent of them are women.
  • Globally, 6 out of 10 children and adolescents are not achieving a minimum level of proficiency in reading and math.

There is little doubt that the failure of countries like Nigeria to attain real appreciable progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was what led to the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGAS) in New York on September 25, 2015.

With this in mind, the SDG 3 is designed to achieve inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.

 

THE STATE OF NIGERIAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

Long before the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, Nigeria’s educational system had variously been rated poor by many analysts.

In the early 2000s, a lecturer in the Department of English Language at the University of Abuja, argued that contrary to what many people think, the standard of education in Nigeria had not fallen as there is only one excellent standard. He posited that what had gone bad were things that ought to sustain that standard. Controversial may be but the remark is not far from the truth.

One of these ‘’things’’ is facilities, many of which, as at the early 2000s, were moribund in many tertiary institutions, secondary and primary schools across the country. It was so bad that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on a six-month strike to protest, among other matters of concern, the poor state of education in Nigeria’s universities.

Clearly, little was achieved by the strike, as 12 years later, ASUU again called its members out on strike to protest what it called “the abysmal state of Nigerian Universities. In embarking on the fresh strike, ASUU said that the Federal Government had failed to honour the agreement on improving the university system that it had reached with the union in 2009. The strike also lasted six months and in order to resolve it, the government agreed to release the sum of N200 billion per annum to be disbursed to Nigerian Universities over a five-year period.  But issues surrounding the 2009 agreement remain unresolved, and ASUU has again threatened to go on strike. Nor is ASUU the only body to do so, as associations of Polytechnic and College of Education lecturers had also embarked on strike action over the government’s failed promises or breaches of contract.

This negative trend is even more disheartening at the basic level.

The Universal Basic Education (UBE) Programme is key to achieving development goals. Established in 1999, UBE’s primary objective is to eradicate illiteracy, ignorance and poverty as well as stimulate and accelerate national development, political consciousness and national integration. For such a critical agency, it is surprising that even by its own admittance, since it was set up, its progress was hampered by lack of an enabling law to execute certain aspects of the programme. This issue was addressed on the 26th of May 2004, when President Obasanjo signed the Universal Basic Education Act into law. The results achieved, however, has been less than satisfactory.

In 2016, the management of the Universal Basic Education Commission released a distressing statistics on the state of education at the primary level in Nigeria. It was revealed that Nigeria had the highest number of out-of-school children in the world which was estimated to be around 10.5 million, something UBEC considered a worrisome trend and remains a major challenge in the delivery of basic education in the country.

A high percentage of these out-of-school children are in northern part of Nigeria, and in this regard, the report states that over the last decade, Nigeria’s exponential growth in population has put immense pressure on the country’s resources and on already overstretched public services and infrastructure. With children under 15 years of age accounting for about 45 percent of the country’s population, the burden on education and other sectors has become overwhelming. Forty percent of Nigerian children aged 6 -11 do not attend any primary school with the Northern region recording the lowest school attendance rate in the country, particularly for girls. This statistics was compiled by UNICEF in 2005.

By 2015, the situation had not changed, as another UNICEF report revealed that 10.5 million children are out of school in Nigeria, with more than 60 percent of them girls.

These, however, are just a tip of the iceberg as there are a plethora of other underlying problems at the various levels of the educational system in Nigeria. These issues have dealt a crippling blow to the system through poor funding, discriminatory practices, decayed infrastructure, weak and obsolete legal and regulatory regimes, wanton and wilful breach of agreements as well as serial and sustained cases of impunity in the sector.

 

THE WAY FORWARD

It is not all doom and gloom for the Nigerian educational system even if the stats confirm that it is indeed a herculean task. The government has a major role to play in reversing this ugly trend.

The introduction of incentives like nutritious and delicious school meals could go a long way to get children back into school. A feeding programme as has to introduced and sustained by the federal government. A hungry child cannot concentrate in school.

The State Universal Basic Education Board has an essential action plan that must be seen through by the government. The cardinal points are enumerated below.

  • SUBEB works to ensure unfettered access to nine years of formal basic education.
  • The provision of free Universal Basic Education for every Nigerian child of school going age.
  • The drastic reduction of the incidence of drop-out from the formal school system, through improved relevance, quality and efficiency.
  • Ensuring the acquisition of appropriate levels of literacy, numeracy, manipulative, communicative and life skills.
  • Ensuring the acquisition of  ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying a solid foundation for lifelong learning.

Alas, all these cannot be achieved if billions of naira meant for improving the quality of basic education continue to be misappropriated and unaccounted for.

Attaining progress on education and meeting the SDG 4 goal will go beyond planning without effective implementation. As the experts have said, amongst other things, it will also require improved funding of the sector, the political will to curb corruption and mediocrity, and partnership with the private sector. While the Federal Government has collaborated with the private sector, including foreign agencies, on education matters in the past two years, it needs to deepen such engagement.

Also, it is of utmost importance to put an end to strikes and ensure uninterrupted academic sessions; the government should – as a matter of urgency – establish a statutory body that must meet periodically to dialogue and negotiate with stakeholders on issues affecting the education sector.

Beyond such collaboration, direct private sector involvement could go a long way towards improving not only the quality of education but also providing less privileged children with the opportunity to go to school. In February 2017, a foundation established by Nollywood actress, Tonto Dike, pledged to renovate some schools in Warri and provide items such as books, whiteboard and school uniforms. Clearly, all hands must be on deck if we are to run this race to the finish line.

 

Quality education is a human right and a public good. Governments and other public authorities should ensure that quality education service is available freely to all citizens from early childhood into adulthood. Quality education provides the foundation for equity in society.

The benefits of quality education in a society cannot be overemphasized. Education liberates the intellect, unlocks the imagination and is fundamental for self-respect. It is the key to prosperity and opens a world of opportunities, making it possible for each of us to contribute to a progressive, healthy society. Learning benefits every human being and should be available to all.

Despite the pessimism expressed by many Nigerians, the country would do well to be part of the successful group that achieves Quality Education status come 2030.

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WONDERBAG

A Wonderbag is a stand-alone, non-electric insulated bag designed to reduce the amount of fuel required in the cooking of food. Instead of being placed on a stove for the duration of the cooking period, food is instead heated to a hot enough temperature then transferred to the Wonderbag, which uses the principle of thermal insulation to continue cooking, and keeps food warm without needing additional fire or heat.

Working on the principle of thermal cooking, the Wonderbag is estimated to save up to 30% of the total fuel costs associated with cooking with Kerosene alone. In developing countries there are numerous advantages for the product, as it immediately helps ease deforestation of natural reserves, and it frees up those who would spend their time gathering the extra wood for fire fuel.

In conventional cooking, any heat applied to the pot after it reaches boiling point is merely replacing heat lost from exposure to the open air. What the Wonderbag does is to trap the heat within and consequently cook the content of the pot.

How It Works

  • First, prep your dish. Do everything you would do before you would usually leave the dish to simmer. Then cover with a tight fitting lid.
  • Then carefully place the pot inside the Wonderbag. Placing a folded dish towel in the base and around the sides of the pot can help keep your Wonderbag clean and adds a little extra insulation.
  • Place the smaller cushion insert in on top of the lid. Then pull in the drawstring, enclosing the outer bag around it. Leave the bag somewhere safe where it will not be knocked or disturbed for the full cooking time. It may be hard but try to resist the urge to check on it during cooking time, as this will let out all the built up heat requiring you to put the dish back into the stove and bring it to the boil again before closing it up.
  • When everything is cooked, remove the pot from the Wonderbag and serve. The cushion insert can be flipped over and used as a trivet to serve food from the hot pot. You would be surprised how hot the pot is even after several hours inside the Wonderbag.

Hailed as one of the greatest innovations of the 21st century
 by Kathy Calvin, President & CEO, United Nations Foundation, the  Wonderbag addresses key societal issues and concerns especially in developing countries. It is completely energyless and in line with energy conservation campaigns.

Below are a few benefits of the Wonderbag.

Benefits

  • Healthy: Cooking in the wonderbag keeps the moisture inside your food and nutrients do not boil away; promoting healthy food.
  • Safe: Slow cooking in the wonderbag uses less water as there is no evaporation; eliminates the chance of food getting burnt and and frees you up for other chores or activities.
  • Tasty and Delicious: Cooking in the wonderbag over time tenderizes meat, keeps vegetables firm, allows flavours to develop so meals are tasty and delicious.
  • Portable and Convenient: The wonderbag is perfect for transporting meals to picnics and to friends – ready to share and eat – piping hot. It serves as an extra cooker and can be kept almost anywhere. Once it is used, it can be put away.
  • Eco-Friendly: Due to the reduction in fuel used, the Wonderbag is estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to half a ton per year if used three times a week.
  • Versatile: The wonderbag is not just a slow cooker. It is a great yogurt maker, rice cooker and bread proofer. It can be used for a variety of things. The wonderbag keeps things cold too so it can be used to keep groceries cold and frozen while travelling.
  • Aesthetics: Wonderbags are designed and made in attractive fabrics that are easy to wash, wipe and clean.

The Wonderbag was created to ease the impact of health, socioeconomic and environmental problems facing Africa and developing countries. The use of firewood and kerosene for cooking is prevalent in developing countries unlike in developed countries.

In Nigeria, for example, over 70 percent of households use firewood. According to the Nigerian Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association(NLPGA) about 30 million households and more than 100 million Nigerians depend on firewood as a source of energy for cooking.

As a direct consequence, firewood is primarily sourced from felled trees and this ultimately leads to deforestation by way of indiscriminate cutting of trees for use as firewood. Deforestation causes distortion or imbalance in the ecosystem and should be discouraged.

On the health-end of this sad practice,the smoke generated by firewood exposes humans to diseases such as tuberculosis and lung cancer especially women. Once they get sick, these impoverished people cannot afford treatment or medication.

A report on climate change says at least 150,000 Nigerians, men and women, die every year as a result of harmful smoke. Of this number, women represent the biggest chunk because in Nigeria, women are still exclusively saddled with the responsibility of cooking.

With little financial means, these women end up cutting trees to feed their families. Women with some means use kerosene, which also generates carbon monoxide. The use of Wonderbag aims to change this age-long negative trend and help women with better and healthier kitchen practices.

The Wonderbag empowers women across Africa to participate in more activities outside of the home; enhancing their quality of life. Children have more time to go to school.

Families remain healthier due to lower incidence of smoke inhalation related illness, reduced risk of burns and fewer acts of violence occur when collecting firewood. The Wonderbag, simply put, enhances rural women’s quality of life by drastically reducing time spent cooking.

The Wonderbag also has dramatic environmental effects in saving water, as cooking with a Wonderbag requires less water than in conventional cooking methods, reducing your carbon footprint and minimizing deforestation.

As of January 2013 over 650,000 Wonderbags have been distributed in South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, and Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.

Wonderbags are also available in Nigeria, and can be obtained from the Friends of The Environment, Lagos office (info@fote.org.ng).

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SDG 3: Good Health And Well-Being “In Nigeria”

The chief objective of SDG 3 is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

According to the United Nations Development Programme statistics

  • Each year around the world, more than 6 million children die before reaching their fifth birthday.
  • Children born into poverty are almost twice as likely to die before the age of 5 as those from wealthier families.
  • Measles vaccines have averted nearly 15.6 million deaths since the year 2000.
  • Over 6.2 million malaria deaths were averted between 2000 and 2015, primarily of children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Maternal mortality has fallen by almost 50 percent since 1990. In East Asia, North Africa and South Asia, it has declined by around two thirds.
  • An estimated 2.1 million people were infected with HIV in 2013, down 38 percent from 2001.

Giant strides have been taken in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality, but working towards achieving the target of less than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030 would require improvements in skilled delivery care.

In Nigeria, the major challenge to the attainment of the SDGs is the lack of awareness and inadequate sensitization of the public of these goals, what they entail and how their implantation impacts the quality of life of the average citizen. Studies in Nigeria show that more than 50% of the population is unaware of what the sustainable development goals are or how they affect their own development. How then can these goals be achieved if people do not know about them or how they fit into the implementation of the goals?

Governments have the prerogative to ensure that people understand that they play a large role in taking up actions especially regarding identifying one particular goal which speaks to them the most, connecting it all on how best the other goals can be achieved.

Unfortunately, people in Nigeria continue to experience avoidable deaths; they continue to die of treatable illnesses. The habit of periodic medical check-up has still not been formed and swaths of the population only go to the doctor or to the hospital when seriously ill only to be misdiagnosed or wrongly medicated.

Most of the time, people seek medical assistance when the illness has reached an advanced stage. In some cases, no medical attention is sought due to paucity of funds. In such situations, individuals are forced to seek quack or native doctors. It is rather absurd!

The realization of SDG 3 face a serious challenge as so very little has been done when there is clearly much to do.

Since independence, Nigeria has survived on public health “guesstimates”, rather than informed estimates. There is no single dependable, reliable, validated and easily verifiable public health dataset in Nigeria. Even organisations that ought to have these datasets like the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) do not have a validated, verifiable dataset of those enrolled into the insurance system. All attempts to have national ID cards, proper censuses and nationwide surveys have failed to deliver verifiable results. This account for seemingly “150 – 200%” coverage rates on National Immunization days, even when there are obvious deficiencies in the process. The basis for most calculations and projections are very faulty. Good Health And Well-Being cannot be attained in Nigeria when there are no real baseline data with which to compare progress.

There is the absence of formative, midcourse and proper end-line evaluation. Lots of resources may be invested into the management of SDGs but all that would be futile if little was done in terms of progress (formative), midcourse and end-line (summative) evaluations to effectively and scientifically look at the progress of the roll-out of the SDG program. If these are to be done, it would give the managers early warning signs on when the delivery of the SDG program is going off-course, and thus, necessitate midcourse corrections. Evaluations, audits and consequent corrections would need to be carried out. Rather, the program is dependent on oral reports, informal adhoc data from program managers designed to make the National President and the world happy, as well as positive newspaper reports of opening of new healthcare centres, donation of medical equipment and increased employment of healthcare workers. These are wrong measures of success.

In a recent study conducted by the Pan African Medical Journal and presented at the 38th/39th West African College of Physicians Annual General and Scientific Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, there were more than 10 different healthcare workers’ strikes in Nigeria over a 36-month period. These paralyzed the healthcare industry, resulting in avoidable mortality and morbidities, as well as catastrophic health expenditure and resultant outgoing medical tourism.

Children and pregnant women are the worst victims of the healthcare worker industrial action. Without access to affordable healthcare services, deaths are inevitable.

The upscale of social discord, killings and bombings in the northern part of Nigeria; and kidnapping in southern Nigeria reversed the gains of so many years of investments in healthcare in Nigeria, especially in affected communities. Today, there are several hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons who are current victims of communicable diseases, malnutrition and several other social problems. This figure was estimated to be 1,538,982 as of April 2015 by the internally-displaced monitoring centre. As these people live on charity, have limited access to healthcare services, school enrolment and healthy shelter, their health and emotional conditions are far from ideal. These people are also denied access to quality care, even when they could afford it. Sexual exploitation and harassment has led to several unwanted pregnancies and maternal deaths. Fear of attacks has led to mass exodus of healthcare workers resulting in brain drain of the health sector, closure of healthcare facilities and deserted communities, causing difficulties in accessing healthcare during emergencies, outbreak of communicable diseases, and many avoidable deaths and complications.

The absence of National Health Insurance Scheme is a genuine cause for concern. As at mid-2012, NHIS still covered only about 3 percent of the population (that is about 5 million individuals). By the time of this report, less than 6 percent of Nigerians have access to health insurance schemes in Nigeria. Again, this figure is not verifiable, nor is it reliable. People pay for services from out-of-pocket expenditure, accounting for more than 60% of healthcare costs in Nigeria. This results in various types of delays including accessing care, seeking care, receiving care at the health facilities, obtaining prescribed care, and delays in leaving the healthcare facility after treatment has taken place. These delays deepen the physical challenges of the patients and facilitate nosocomial infections, which usually results in additional associated cost of care.

Difficult as it sounds, it is not all doom and gloom for Nigeria. The SDG 3 can be met but only with seriousness and commitment. The Federal government must engage in meaningful collaborative effort with state and local governments to stem off the enigma surrounding the country’s healthcare system. The era of paying lip service to healthcare should be done away with.

Proper and measurable process (formative) evaluations are critical at key intervals and should be built into the implementation plans. This will help keep the implementation of the SDG 3 program on course, and when deviations occur, make corrections early enough to achieve the goal as at 2030. Systems should be developed and put in place in all segments of the health system – including fund management systems.

Individuals should be trained and retrained to ensure proper reorientation with a new integrated care mentality. These trainings should also be aimed at building transparency into the system, developing skilled data managers and excellent evaluators who will conduct both the process and summative evaluations.

The time to work differently in Nigeria is now. Positive change is a choice, and not a chance occurrence. Change results from choices made, not a product of what is happening. It is triggered by purpose, passion, focus, sacrifices, and discipline. Nigeria must make positive changes to achieve Good Health And Well-Being come 2030.

Environmental News

SDG 2: Zero Hunger – The Role Of Agriculture

The sustainable development goal number two aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

It is forecasted that by 2030 we should end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by doubling agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers (especially women and indigenous peoples), ensuring sustainable food production systems, and by progressively improving land and soil quality.

According to the United Nations Development Programme statistics

  • One in nine people in the world today is undernourished; that’s 795 million people.
  • If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by 150 million.
  • Since the 1900s, some 75 percent of crop diversity has been lost from farmers’ fields.
  • Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40% of the global population. It is the largest source of income for poor rural households.
  • Women make up about 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, and over 50% in parts of Asia and Africa.

Investing in the agricultural sector can address not only hunger and malnutrition but also other challenges including poverty; water and energy use; climate change; and unsustainable production and consumption.

Africa is potentially an agricultural powerhouse. The continent has 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land and could grow enough food to meet its own needs and export surpluses. Yet hundreds of millions go hungry. Despite recent progress, Africa’s farmers, most of whom are smallholders, underperform.

Global population growth and increasing prosperity could increase the demand for food by 50% by 2050. But our planetary boundaries are already reaching their limits. Land and freshwater resources, the very basis of our food production, are under heavy stress, and oceans, forests, and other ecosystems are being degraded at an unprecedented scale. Conflicts over resources and the devastating impacts of climate change risk pushing millions more into abject poverty and hunger. And as always, it is the world’s poorest who suffer most. We see this now in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Northern Nigeria where more than 20 million people are in desperate need of food assistance.

The challenges to feed the world sustainably are huge, but fortunately we are not starting from scratch. With the Sustainable Development Goals, the global community has adopted a compelling vision with ambitious goals. To successfully implement the SDGs, governments of all countries must play a critical role, but it is not their responsibility alone. Fulfilling these ambitions requires an unprecedented effort by all sectors in society, and business must be at the heart of this endeavor. The expectations are high, and so are the opportunities. Across the world, an increasing number of businesses are already looking beyond short-term profit to create value through sustainable solutions for society. Such decisions are not simply motivated by altruism, but rather by a clear understanding that social risks are detrimental to their bottom line.

Far-sighted companies are doing business responsibly and embracing new technologies to deliver on wider goals of development, including improving access to food and clean water, to sanitation, healthcare and education. They are building alliances and partnerships to drive innovation, create jobs, and advance equitable growth. There is an urgent need to reshape agriculture and food systems to better feed the world and deliver sustainable development.

The importance of greater investment cannot be overemphasized, particularly in developing countries where the need and potential for increasing agricultural productivity and production are greatest. This would help feed growing populations sustainably, while creating jobs and incomes across rural areas, particularly for young people. One example of this is in Africa, where over the last decade, countries have started to put greater emphasis on investment in agriculture and supporting policies and regulations. Indeed, history shows that increasing agricultural productivity is a critical driver of economic transformation and social development.

It is imperative that smallholder farmers, who produce nearly 70% of all food consumed worldwide, are at the heart of all our efforts. Government and the private sector can and must form innovative partnerships with farmers’ organizations and smallholders, providing access to better seeds, sustainable farming techniques, and modern technologies. It is soothing to know that major companies, including Syngenta AG (a global company agribusiness that produces agrochemicals and seeds) are already providing tools and training to smallholders in Sub-Saharan African and other regions, thereby filling critical gaps along the value chain. It is crucial that the bigger corporations share market access, financing and knowledge with small farmers and local agribusinesses. The greatest success will come if all stakeholders work in close partnership. Smallholders need to grow  into agro-entrepreneurs and subsistence farms into profitable businesses.

We must ensure that agriculture and food systems become nutrition-smart, because it’s not just about the amount of food we grow, it’s also about the type of food that we consume. We are what we eat. Evidence shows that nutrition is crucial for economic growth as better nourished populations are more productive. We need governments to urgently adopt the right policies and mobilize resources to scale-up nutrition. The food industry must support these efforts by providing consumers with access to more nutritious foods. Scientific research and innovation is equally important in this context.

We have to foster food systems that produce more food but with fewer resources as we are reaching a point where our capacity to meet current and future needs is seriously jeopardized. Governments have to adopt, enforce and strengthen policies that promote responsible natural resource management and prevent the loss of natural habitats, forests and biodiversity. It is crucial that businesses source, process and manage resources efficiently to meet growing demand, while preserving our environment and climate. This must include responsible water stewardship, striving for zero waste and using energy resources more sustainably.

These may seem mountainous a task but it is our only shot at eliminating food scarcity and attaining Zero Hunger status come 2030. Reaching the SDG targets simply will not be possible without a strong and sustainable agricultural sector.

 

 

Credit to the Kofi Annan Foundation!

 

Energy ConservationEnvironmental NewsPollution

THE INDIVIDUAL’S GUIDE TO ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

While the society waits for better government policies geared towards environmental sustainability, the individual can take baby steps that can amount to long strides over time if done with consistency. To some extent, the society is a reflection of the individuals in it. This implies that people with healthy living habits makes for a better society.

Below are some simple things you can do to care of your immediate environment.

Save Electricity

Turn your lights off! This one seems like a no-brainer but people often forget to switch off the light when they walk out of a room. Turn off lights when you aren’t using them and you will help save the environment and save on your electricity bill. Try to have an hour every day where you don’t use lights. Use energy-efficient light bulbs instead of regular bulbs. They last longer and in turn saves you a bit of money. Be sure to turn off lights, the TV, and other appliances when you are not using them. Lower your air conditioning when it is not necessary.

40% of electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off! So unplug that phone charger, better still the extension cord.

Don’t Drive If You Don’t Have To

Can you ride a bike to work, walk or take a taxi? If there is a way to reduce your car use, try to do it every day. The first two makes you healthier, and if you take the taxi, you can read or check your emails and/or newspaper while you commute.

Compost

It is safe to assume that everyone has a garbage can. You can have a second bin for your trash as well: compost. Gardeners love compost, since it creates a rich, natural soil to grow flowers and vegetables in. It also saves dumps from dealing with extra garbage. If something can decompose, try composting it!

Don’t Forget To Reuse And Re-purpose

Simple efforts like reusing plastic bags or re-purposing an old shoe-box can save tons of waste from the dump. Plus, re-purposing items around the house is a great way to nurture your own creativity. How many ways can you reuse an old milk tin…?

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)

It is very common to see plastic bags in surplus quantities in our homes. It is also common to see them littered all around us in the most uncomfortable ways. Yet, every time we go to the market or shops, we leave lots at home only to bring more back with us. If a million Nigerians can go to the market with a plastic bag from their homes every week, that means there will be, at the very least, one million less bags produced. This will help protect our environment and conserve resources.

Reduce

The truth is that we create LOTS of trash. Just think about how much stuff you bring home from the market or stores that ends up in the trash can, and I’m not even talking about the food itself, just the packaging. Consider how you can reduce the amount of garbage you create on your own.

Plant Trees And Native Plants

Have you planted a tree before?

Green living areas in our cities and suburbs are vital. Industrialization and suburban sprawl have taken away the trees – our main source of unadulterated oxygen. They’re also beautiful, and they do their part to keep our environment clean.

By planting a tree today, you can make green space and unadulterated oxygen a reality for the next generation. The same goes for landscaping with native plants. Not only are they low maintenance, they conserve water, reduce carbon pollution, and support the health of local wildlife. If you don’t have your own lawn you can spread the word and tell a friend.

Fall In Love With Mother Nature

“There is mounting research that supports the idea that children [and adults] who spend regular time playing and learning in the natural world are happier, healthier, smarter, more creative and better problem solvers,” shares Janice Swaisgood, Children & Nature Network’s National Coordinator of Nature Clubs for Families.

Essentially if we want to be inspired to protect our natural resources, we must fall in love with nature. Go out, swim in a lake, and walk or play on the beach. Put down your phone and go outside to see what kind of birds and butterflies are fluttering about your yard. When you find a bird nest and observe (not interfere) with the hatching, growing, and finally flying away… you develop an intrinsic vested interest or ownership in the natural world.

 

So there you have it folks! Start changing the world with what is right in front of you. The power to make the world a better place is in our hands, not the hands of politicians nor anyone else. We have a duty to care for the planet and it is our daily decisions to make a difference that can change everything. Regardless of whether global warming exists or not, we’re still responsible to be good stewards of nature.

Imagine what might happen if everyone decided to get serious about this one.

Environmental News

SDG 1: No Poverty – The Nigerian Focus

Stamping out poverty in all its forms remains a herculean feat. While the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped by more than half between 1990 and 2015 – from 1.9 billion to 836 million, thanks in part to the Millenium Development Goals – too many are still struggling for the most basic human needs.

Globally, more than 800 million people are still living on less than US$1.25 a day; about ₦453.6 as of the time of writing, many lacking access to adequate food, clean drinking water and sanitation. The United Nations Development Programme statistics show that rapid economic growth in countries like China and India has lifted millions out of poverty, but progress has been uneven.

The statistics also point out that women are more likely to live in poverty than men due to unequal access to paid work, education and property.

Progress has also been limited in other regions, such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, which account for 80 percent of those living in extreme poverty. New threats brought on by climate change, conflict and food insecurity, mean even more work is needed to bring people out of poverty.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, poverty is more than the lack of income or resources. People live in poverty if they lack basic services such as healthcare, security, and education. They also experience hunger, social discrimination and exclusion from decision-making processes.

According to the World Poverty Clock, Nigeria is currently the poverty capital of the world with over 86 million of its citizens living in extreme poverty. This simply means that 44.2 percent of Nigeria’s population are living in poverty or surviving on less than a dollar a day.

It is worth noting that Nigeria overtook India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world, with India having a population seven times larger than Nigeria’s.

From the National Accelerated Food Production Programme, Operation Feed the Nation, and Green Revolution Programme of the 70s to more recent poverty alleviation campaigns, several ineffective attempts by several governments of Nigeria has left the country with an uphill task of aligning with the objectives and desired outcome of the SDG goal number one by the year 2030.

The National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) is however considered as an improvement over the previous Nigerian government poverty-reduction programmes. According to a 2018 analysis, the program has been able to train 130,000 youths and engaged 216,000 people, though most of the beneficiaries were not poor.

Nigeria, India, DR Congo, Ethiopia and the likes can be within the reach of “No Poverty” through intense efforts by their governments, using a rural development approach, a basic needs approach and the targeting approach among others.

The basic needs approach has, as its main objective, the need to satisfy the essential requirements for the minimum standard of living. The approach is concerned with improving the income earning opportunities for the poor, the public services that reach the poor, the flow of goods and services to meet the needs of all members of households and the participation of the poor in the ways in which their needs are met.

The rural development approach derives from the perspective that the majority of the poor in developing countries live in the rural areas. The approach, therefore, emphasizes the need to focus development efforts on the sector.

Though there are variants to this approach, the most prominent is perhaps the integrated rural development variant. This variant recognises that poverty is multidimensional and, therefore, requires a multi-pronged approach.

The approach seeks to develop all sectors of the rural economy and link them up effectively. The components of the approach include infrastructure development, provision of social services and employment and income generating opportunities to the rural dwellers in general and the rural poor in particular.

The targeting approach requires the directing of poverty alleviation programmes to specific groups within the country. Components of the approach include microcredit, school meal, medical care, safety nets and public works programmes. The approach requires proper identification  of the target groups for effective targeting.

The SDGs are a bold commitment to “finish what we started”, and end poverty in all forms and dimensions by 2030. This involves targeting the most vulnerable, increasing access to basic resources and services, and supporting communities affected by conflict and climate-related disasters.

There is an urgent need for governments to subscribe to the ideals of the SDGs and begin implementing poverty reduction policies.