Category: Sustainaware

CODE :The Future We See through Follow The Money Newsroom.

Hamzat Lawal July 19, 2016 2

A non-governmental organisation Follow The Money, an initiative of Connected Development (CODE)Connected Development (CODE) is set to launch “Virtual Newsroom.

The products from the Virtual Newsroom is set to further engage and empower more marginalized people in rural communities to enhance their livelihoods.

DOTUNSpeaking at an In-house training organised by CODE, the monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Oludotun Babayemi said Follow The Money is planning  a virtual newsroom that will run 24 hours – several times in a month with the objective of strengthening the voice of 95 million Nigerians leaving in rural communities in Nigeria, while increasing their participation in governance.

He said it’s important to have a participatory kind of discussion on how the newsroom is meant to look like, who’s doing what and create a larger workflow other than the one we have been using.

“We are talking about a newsroom that has over 60 reporters reporting into it from remote places. This means we need a robust, scalable and efficient framework other than the one we were using before. We thought it will be good to have a meeting to deliberate, discuss, make comments and suggestions about how the newsroom is meant to look like and also decide on the future of Follow The money,”he said.

The Monitoring and Evaluation officer, said Follow the Money is always motivated by stories from rural communities, which never gets into the mainstream media, adding that  every time there is a visit , they hear about new stories, not just for the success alone but of  failures of communities that are still ailing other than the ones that  are focused on.

He added that it is always motivating  that the group  can do more and  can have more people to do more.

“We are looking at the massive strength in the young people that we have, we can engage more of them and we can also have more communities that will be proactively vigilant in ensuring transparency and accountability of funds meant for their communities as well. These are the motivation for Follow The Money,” he said.

Speaking on the challenges, Babayemi said the challenges the movement  might face is keeping that of  retaining human resources and availability of financial resources
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“Some people might leave at some point  because  we can’t bring in 60-75 people and expect them to only be focused on our mission and goal. Some people would think of something else such as thinking of another movement from there. Both are the critical challenges we are looking forward to as we move on.,”he said

He further called on the general public to be on the lookout for new radio programs that will come up especially Follow the Money radio, adding that radio is what people in the rural communities rely on to get information.

Mr. Babayemi explained that Follow the Money radio will be used in increasing rural community participation on governance as it concerns implementation of funds meant for capital projects in their communities l.

“ They should look out for some of our bulletins and prints that we would want to share with them on the money we are following and money for the community and also on what the government is saying about such money should be something interesting the communities should be looking forward to,”he said.

Well in the next 15  years, the vision will be to see the present 95 million Nigerians living in rural communities listening and engaging their leaders through the Follow the Money Radio, likewise, seeing 50%  of that population sending in feedback to Follow the Money via SMS and our various online portal. Mr Babayemi noted

He said these target audience  could also be able to read about  Follow the Money In  online and offline bulletins or magazines.

“In essence, seeing  Follow the Money as a community mechanism where they can also read about their own community, and get their voices amplified is the future we see through Follow the Money and I hope that we will be able to achieve that,” he said.

 

    

 

Group seeks partnership with CODE on Stop don’t Drop campaign.

Hamzat Lawal June 28, 2016 2

The Stop Don’t Drop group in collaboration with Chanja Datti seeks partnership with Connected Development (CODE) in creating awareness on Environment sustainability and anti-littering stance.

Speaking at an interactive section held at CODE office in Abuja, the convener/Initiator of “Stop Don’t Drop”, Adiza Ujo said a research was conducted shortly after the fuel scarcity hit Nigeria.

She said the outcome of the research showed that many car owners who queued to buy fuel ended up buying eatables after which they littered the environment with wraps of whatever was bought.

“We found out the long queues at the filling Station led to more dirty in our environment, because while they wait for their turns to buy fuel the just buy “Gala and Lacaserra” drinks after which they just throw on the floor,”she said.

Ms Ujo noted that it is therefore necessary to enlighten the public on the use of waste bin or trash bags to deposit waste.

She further added that aside from depositing refuse dumps, such waste could be recycled into other products.

Also speaking,the Managing Director of Chanjia Datti, Ms Funto Boroffice said its not just about throwing dirty into trash bags, adding that when a trash  bag  could be returned back to the company for recycling.

She said it’s a way of also keeping the environment clean and to also create avenues for cab drivers to earn more income regardless of how little it may be

“Our focus are cab drivers and Keke riders, we intend to give them bag so that there passengers can throw their dirty in it,

“Once this is done the cab drivers are meant to bring back the bags to us with the dirty in it, after which they could either get recharge cards or a liter of fuel”, she said.

IMG-20160628-WA004She said that about 50,000 or more stickers will also be launched, adding that the stickers will be at the bumper of every cabs and keke in Abuja environs.

“The essence of this stickers is to help car owners stop littering the road with dirty, by throwing it out the window while driving,

“I am certain that when the car behind the one that  has a sticker that says “Stop don’t Drop” , he or she will think twice and not throw the dirty outside the window, “she said.

The Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, commended the group for this initiative, adding that CODE will assist in any possible way it can.

“I think it’s important that it is also treated at the senate level, whereby a bill is passed on that effect alongside policies,”he said.

He added that CODE will ensure the media helps broadcasts this initiative so that the information can get to the public as wide and fast as possible

“ We would try and engage  BBC Hausa to help amplifier alongside Wazobia fm, we could also make any of the Host on Wazobia fm an ambassador,”he said.

The monitoring and Evaluation manager of CODE, Oladotun Babayemi, suggested that everybody not just car owners or Keke riders should also engage themselves in recycling.

” i would advice you start publicity through congregation, it would help a lot in sending the message across,”he said.

Chanja Datti is committed to transforming waste to value with an increasing demand to rid the environment of non-biodegradable waste materials.

Stop don’t Drop seeks a green trash free environment.

 

 

Group faults government poor management of lead contamination in Shikira

Hamzat Lawal June 27, 2016 2

By Etta Michael Bisong

Connected Development (CODE), a non-governmental and not for profit organisation monitoring the lead poisoning outbreak in Shikira, has condemned the federal government over the poor handling of the disaster that claimed 30 lives and leaving over 300 hundred others with high level lead contaminants in their blood.
The group is particularly angry that this year’s raining season has began; yet the government is still uncertain over the specific date when remediation will commence to save children below the ages of five in the small rural mining community.
Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive Officer of the organisation in an interview with journalists in Abuja, urged the government to stop being conservative and be more transparent on management of the exercise so as to tackle it appropriately.
“The truth is that time is running out,” Lawal said. “Federal Government should come up with a clear work plan including date, data and timeline for the clean-up of Shikira.”
He decried that the situation is even more worrisome as Médecins sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders, an international network of humanitarian services provider has threatened to leave the community. MSF after realising the outbreak in April 2015 volunteered to render free medical services to the victims, but on the condition that the environment is first remediation to avoid duplication of treatment.
The CODE’s helmsman also frowned at the selective attitude of the government towards participating in activities and engaging with civil society groups working in the affected community.
“I am not happy that relevant agencies of government, especially the federal ministry of Environment, Solid Minerals and Health are not present at this important meeting after sending invitations ahead of time,” he said. “It shows us to what extent that the government value the lives of our vulnerable children who are in urgent need of medical attention.”
However, Lawal commended the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for passing a resolution mandating the Executive arm of government to embark on a total clean up of the impact site without further contemplation.
He urged the Senate to also look into and review the 2007 Mining Act to reflect current realities so as to properly integrate activities of artisanal miners to address the problems bedeviling the sector in the country.
IMG_20160617_151057
Simba Tirima, representative of TerraGraphics, the organisation that conducted analysis of the environmental characterisation and  impact of the devastation, said over 500,000 mg/kg Pb of lead contaminants were found in some parts of the village.
This outrageous figure, he hinted contradict the the United States Environmental Protection Agency threshold of  400 mg/kg Pb for residential soil.
Tirima advised the federal government to partner with victims and members of the affected community as well as other rights groups to ensure proper coordination in tackling the epidemic.
The minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, visited Shikira recently and declared it a national disaster.
Mohammed after her assessment tour concluded that there was urgent need to clean up the environment to protect other children from further exposure of the contamination and restore back livelihood in the community.

While government, environmental rights as well as humanitarian groups continue to brainstorm on various methods of solving the menace, it is important to note that over 300 children are still living with high level lead poison in their blood with many others vulnerable to further contamination.

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Shikira Community: When Will Remediation Begin?

Hamzat Lawal June 17, 2016 0

Over 300 children living with high lead level in their blood and needs urgent medical treatment

We are highly shocked over the Federal Government inability to announce a specific date when remediation of Shikira will commence one year after the LEAD contamination that ravened the small rural mining community located in Rafi LGA in Niger State.  And this is even more worrisome considering the fact that the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed recently visited the area and declared it a national disaster.

It is noteworthy to highlight here that the minister during one of her meetings with civil society bodies and other relevant stakeholders in the sector disclosed that the sum of N300 million has been included in the 2016 budget for clear-up of the contaminated site, but the truth is that time is running out as the rainy season has just begin and would disrupt the exercise and spread to other neighboring communities if remediation do not commence immediately.

Also, it is on record that Follow The Money team after discovering the epidemic in April 2015 alerted necessary pubic officials of the incident and called for urgent intervention to enable occupants of the community adapt to the ugly event that claimed 28 lives and infected over 300 children mostly those below five years old.

It is exciting that Doctors Without Borders, a specialized body that render humanitarian services has indicated interest to provide free health services but on the condition that the environment must first be cleared of any contaminant.

IMG_20160617_150739

While we acknowledge the minister for the move demonstrated by visiting the impact site to assess the level of devastation, a sign that reinforces hope that work may begin soon, we are also very concern about when the funds would be released to commence the actual clean-up.

IMG_20160617_151109

Furthermore, we want the government to be open, transparent and accountable on how the funds are expected to be utilized including a work plan specifying project timeline, data and concrete steps on execution of the exercise.

While we laud the Senate for swiftly passing a resolution compelling the Executive arm of government to urgently embark on total clean-up of Shikira following the outbreak, Follow The Money team is in addition calling the lawmakers who has recently committed to reviewing the 2007 Mining Act to ensure empowering artisanal and small scale miners so as to mitigate risks and ensure safety in mining practices in Nigeria.

IMG_20160617_151104

We also want government to prosecute individuals who are out rightly reckless about their jobs and possibly put them behind detention to serve as deterrent to others and foster sanity in the system.

On our part as an organisation we will continue to pressure the government on the need to release the fund for the project and ensure that we provide the public with timely and accurate information of how the funds are been utilized to capture the voices of marginalized citizens.

Signed:

Hamzat Lawal

Cheif Executive, CODE

Co-Founder, Follow The Money

Please feel free to contact me or my colleague Amina Mohammed for interview, more information or clarification (aminz@connecteddevelopment.org or +2348033009722).

The Border Town, Casted Away in the Sahara Desert – Jeke!

codepress November 24, 2015 0

Have you wondered how communities in the Sahara get water? to use for personal purposes, and their livestock? To be candid, it can be a whole tussle, and frustration. But with recent innovations in Wind and Solar Energy, it should be a thing of the pass, but in Jeke, a border town with Niger Republic (On your cell-phone, an Airtel Subscriber will be switched to the One-Airtel roaming plan on receiving a welcome message from Airtel Niger), it is still the case, as the estimated 7,000 that inhabits Jeke wait every 3 days to have access to Water.

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Inhabitants of Jeke lining up their Jerrycan while in search of Water

 

Jeke located in Sule Tankarkar LGA of Jigawa has 14 shelter belts, and most are predominantly farmers involved in dry crops.”You can get those big water melons here for 20 Naira, and when you get back to Abuja, maybe you will buy it for 600 Naira” explained Husseini, the Motor Bicycle Rider that took us through the sandy path that took us to Jeke. This community reminds me of Bagega in Zamfara State, with a wind propeller that powers the water points lightening up the village, and embedded within the orchard and nursery set out for the village to use in sustaining their tree plantations.

 

“This wind powered water tank provides water 3 times in a week only when the wind speed is high, but when it is not we cannot get water, and this could have been an alternative to the MDG solar powered tank we have in the community, which cannot serve all of us.The MDG powered solar tank constructed 2 years ago only gives water between 9am and 2pm, that’s why you see so many people carrying kegs around” explained Yakubu Magaji, a spokesperson for Jeke

The wind powered water tank in Jeke that supplies water to the orchard - The tank gets filled up only at high wind speed

The wind powered water tank in Jeke that supplies water to the orchard – The tank gets filled up only at high wind speed

 

Jeke alone, due to its border line with Niger enjoins most of the shelter belt line that the GGW initiated, but the continuation and sustainability of the project still lives many inhabitants of Jeke in the dark. “As you must have seen, the shelter belts are only growing on their own, without nurturing, and some are already getting dried up, as their are no forest guards around, we only took up the initiative in the hope that their will be continual support from the government” said Muhammad Hussaini the leader of the Men’s Development Association who also went for a training in Kano on sustaining the GGW project.

 

A noteworthy plan for the GGW was the cash transfer system which will allow these association or cooperatives of farmers to have direct access to cash in their bank accounts to use in sustaining and localizing the GGW but the beneficiaries haven’t seen the plan grow into implementation. “We have submitted our bank accounts to the government since this started a year ago, but no amount has been transferred to the account, and so how do we trust the government if all this promises are failing” lamented Hussaini as he explained further.

Muhammad Husseini sharing his experiences on the GGW  with the FTM team

                                  Muhammad Husseini sharing his experiences on the GGW with the FTM team

 

While one wonders what will happen to the 5 – 20 hectares of land that was used for this project, the locals claimed it was their land, and that although the government paid tokens for some of the land used, it still has some pending cases of land acquisition for this project in Jeke to be settled. “Aside the issue of Water which remains pertinent for our people to survive, it should be noted that there are three people in our community that have not been duly compensated for their farmlands that was used for the orchard, it will be pleasing for the government to fulfill their promises”. Adiu Hassan exclaimed

 

When the Follow The Money team embarks on community outreaches like this, we endeavour to meet with policy makers as well to get insights into some of this projects, but at times, you get some shocking response, just like in Jigawa state.”We will not be able to entertain any question fro your team, as we do not have directives from the Federal Ministry of Environment to talk to you, and also we advise you do not visit the communities, as you might be instigating them” cautioned Hilary Ammani, Director, Desertification and Forestry for the Federal Ministry of Environment. But as much as we get disturbing responses like this, so also do we have comforting ones “We have attached a representative who will take you around the shelter belts in Gumel and Jeke, but we can inform you that the GGW has made its little progress in that it is only a year old, and for some months now, there has not been follow up, because of the change in government, but we assure you of our cooperation” Hamisu Ahmed representing the State Forestry Services Department.

The FTM Team with the Forestry Department Representative at the Shelter Belt in Jeke. Trees here include Neem, Senegal Acacia, and the Doum Palm

The FTM Team with the Forestry Department Representative at the Shelter Belt in Jeke. Trees here include Neem, Senegal Acacia, and the Doum Palm

 

Many times, we intend to create the missing feedback loop between the government and the people, while amplifying the voice of this lurked away communities like Jeke. As the following months will pass by, we will be engaging the people and its government on how to break these barriers that stand between empowering this communities. No doubt, more can still be done on the side of the government to make water available in Jeke!

#Kadandani – Thriving on the heels of economical trees, threatened by unfulfilled promises!

codepress November 21, 2015 0

How does doing a community outreach in a state where a suicide bomber just killed so many lives sounds like? Yes we were in Kano, when the tragedy struck, but many times this would not distract us like someone said during our radio engagement “I think the Follow The Money team are a group of Nigerians that are never shaken, even in the light of insecurity in the North”.Maybe the next conversation, might be – “How do you manage it?”

 

We are typical Nigerians that follows not only money for good, but our passion pushes us, and so same passion took us to Kadandani in Makoda Local Government of Kano State. Estimated to have a population of 6,000 with one primary and secondary school each, only one source of water that  thrives on an alternative power – the AC generator;and a clinic that has only one midwife attending to patients.

The Shelter Belt initiated by the Kano State Government two decades ago

                                            The Shelter Belt initiated by the Kano State Government two decades ago

 

Kadandani has a long stretch of shelterbelts, which made us think the community might be thriving on economical trees “Each woman in the community has four Date trees she nurtures, hoping that in future years, we will reap from each Date fruit”  affirmed Hajiya Mari the head of the women association in Kadandani who recently attended a 2 days seminar on the importance of the Great Green Wall project and they were directed to submit their registration and bank account details which they did. She mentioned that same project was initiated by the Kano State government and has been in existence 4 years ago. “The huge shelter belts surrounding our community is an initiative of the state government, it started decades ago, but what we hope for now is that the government can now provide processing machines for peanuts harvested by our women, as such we can make kuli-kuli in large scale” explained Mari

 

The Great Green Wall (GGW) project in Kadandani has lived to its expectation with awareness, trainings and shortcomings in unfulfilled promises of water and social projects. “The Kadandani inhabitants are much aware about the benefit of planting trees, owing to awareness and training programmes by the government, but it has had its own challenges, at the beginning of the GGW, we were promised water, an important amenity to us and our livestocks, but looking back, this is not the case if you visit the proposed site for this amenities” explained Adamu Abdullahi, community head of Kadandani

The FTM team with key groups in the community - from top left is Hajiya Mari

                                           The FTM team with key groups in the community – from top left is Hajiya Mari

 

100m away from the fences of their mud – thatched roofs, is located a “drying up” orchard  with a solar powered tank, which was meant to generate 10 water points for the community, and  a livestock water storage trough. “6 months after this was installed, it stopped working, and since then we have written to the federal government, but there has not been any response and the nurseries and orchards are getting dried up” – says Adamu. But one would have thought that the community would have invested or carry on the burden of sustaining the project, “When there was no response, I had to start using sprinklers and trying to raise new orchards, and I encouraged other community members to do as well, but we can only do a little” Shehu Ibrahim, the owner of one of the 5 hectares of land which the community offered to the federal government for this project.

 

Speaking with the Director, Forestry Department of the State Ministry of Environment, he clearly affirmed the situation in not only Kadandani “although we are trying to restore this water source for the plants, livestock and the people, its been challenging getting the contractors to fix the water tanks properly, and this is not peculiar to Kadandani, we have 5 shelter belts in other 3 other communities in Makoda, and we need to provide water at each communities for the GGW  to survive” explained Danusa Ibrahim, Director, Forestry Department.

The orchard and nursery site in Kadandani, just behind is the non-functional 10 water points

                           The orchard and nursery site in Kadandani, just behind is the non-functional 10 water points

 

Little wonders, why laudable social projects in local communities gets abandoned at the height of hysteria, perhaps, no thinks about its sustainability, or projects are initiated to gain political integrity. “Although as a lead, I have been more enlightened about the benefits of projects like GGW, as we have seen in Zinder, Niger during one of our field trips, it is more important to consult the local communities first before starting social projects like this, also I will advise stakeholders such as lawmakers from these communities should take the lead in some of these consultations, this can help in the sustainability of the project” Miyaki said
So what happens to Kadandani afterwards? As these kind of stories interests us at FTM, we will be looking at every opportunity to get water to the 5,000 people that inhabits Kadandani; and not just to forget their livestocks and flora that exist in their community. If you are in Kano, and you think you want to join in tracking the 70 million Naira that was meant for Kadandani which might lead to getting back water to the 5,000 inhabitants, join us now!

 

Where the Dry Crops Won’t Grow: A Too – Familiar Story of #Bachaka

codepress November 18, 2015 0

In Kebbi State, nothing must have mattered to them , other than their dry season crop planting, but there is a community that is doubting how much they can make, off the planting season – Bachaka, with an estimated population of 5,000 with 1 health center, a primary and secondary school, and the community thrives on four water hand pumps.

The FTM Team engages the Deputy Head of Community at Bachaka on prospects and challenges of the GGW

The FTM Team engages the Deputy Head of Community at Bachaka on prospects and challenges of the GGW

 

In November 2014, Bachaka became the first of 200 communities that would benefit from the Great Green Wall (GGW) project. A project that hopes to provide 1,500km of shelter belt from Kebbi to Borno State; provide water and social projects in 200 beneficiary communities. Lurked away from the city center of Kebbi, Birnin Kebbi, and just 40km away from the Republic of Niger in Arewa Local Government Area, there seems to have been an appreciable progress in Bachaka , since the inception of the GGW, a year ago.

 

“We have two representatives from our community that was sent on trainings and site visits to Zinder, Niger; there has been several awareness programmes as well, especially in making an income from planting economic trees, likewise there is a Ministry of Environment representative who visit here monthly” highlighted Abubakar Maiyaki (Mai Yakin Bachaka), Deputy Head of Community in Bachaka

 

The 1km shelterbelt in Bachaka is thriving, and has had its forest guards and security guards in place watching over it, but there are challenges as well. “Since we started about 4 months ago, we have not been paid our salaries and that has been frustrating for us and our families, as such we urge the government to come to our plight.” complained one of the security guards.

In the background is the spoilt solar and wind powered water tank

                                                  In the background is the spoilt solar and wind powered water tank

 

Shelter belts projects cannot survive without the provision of orchards and nurseries, so that other trees can be planted by the community, but their is a setback for this in Bachaka.” We have written the Federal Ministry of Environment times without number, to come and fix the solar wind powered tank since it stopped working , as all the nurseries and orchards are getting dried up.

 

In Bachaka, two solar powered tanks were installed: One that provides water source to the shelter belt, and another one that provide water for the orchard and nursery.The latter was at first a wind powered water tank which broke down some days after it was installed, it was then replaced by a solar source which also stopped working just 3 months ago, because the pump for the water was stolen! “Farmers that rely on the broken down water source cannot plant this dry season, as their crops get dried up, just like the orchards are already drying up, the tank should be fixed as soon as possible” said Ashiru Mohammed, one of the security men in charge of the orchards.

The nursery for the Acacia, Doum Palm and the Date Palm already drying up in Bachaka

                                    The nursery for the Acacia, Doum Palm and the Date Palm already drying up in Bachaka

 

Ashiru Mohammed was not only the security in charge of the orchards, surprisingly, he doubled as the owner of the land, and pleaded with the government to pay him is compensation for acquiring his land. Ashiru made us understand that he was only looking after the place because of the passion after one of the sensitization programme in Bachaka. Umar Musa, the Director of forestry at the Kebbi State Government affirmed some of the plights of other shelter belts in Kebbi, and was really skeptical about the success of the GGW, if their is not a new direction for the laudable project.
So why, who and how was the pump for the solar powered tank stolen, perhaps there was no guard for the orchard before now, and many times we get cases of stolen pumps when solar powered tanks are installed in rural communities, Bachaka isn’t the first and might not be the last. Despite the progress since the GGW was flagged off in Bachaka, there are too many challenges of consolidating gains with local stakeholders, thus posing a challenge to the sustainability of the GGW in Kebbi State as a whole.In the next coming months, we will be catching up on stories from Bachaka, and how the water issues will be solved to allow farmers continue their dry crop farming.

Aftermath Poor Implementation of #WomenCookstoves Project: Stakeholders Urge New Minister of Environment to Support Local Markets for Alternative Energies

codepress November 17, 2015 0

Connected Development’s [CODE]  Follow The Money project, held its’ fifth stakeholders meeting on the 9.2 billion Naira allocated for the procurement of 750,000 Clean cookstoves and 18,000 wonderbags on 12th November, 2015 . The forum was strategized to share insights and knowledge gaps as the billion naira project did not get to the rural women it was meant for.

The event which took place at Reiz Continental Hotel Abuja, had in attendance, representatives of the Ministry of Finance and Ecological Fund Office, journalists and the civil society. Sharing the findings of its Follow The Money team, Monitoring and Evaluation expert, Oludotun Babayemi, said that the initiative found out that clean cookstoves that was exhibited by the former Ministry of Environment was not newly purchased, and that from findings, these were clean cookstoves that was meant for a project initiated two years ago.   

CODE M & E expert,Oludotun Babayemi, discussing findings of Follow The Money initiative

He further hinted the stakeholders that the contractor – Integra Renewable Energy cannot be reached as they have vacated the building used as their office. Likewise, stating that after several meetings with the Ecological Fund Office officials, it could not be ascertained if the 4 billion remaining in the Ecological Funds for this project still remains in their coffers “It’s like a tracking platform where we track funds when they are being released to when it gets to the community itself” said Babayemi, as he further explained the involvement of Follow The Money in the allocated 9.2 billion Naira Clean cookstoves project.

The representative from the Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Yusuf, Kemi Ahmed, though unaware of the complete situation concerning the stoves said that options such as subsidizing the cost for local manufacturers would have been a better solution as it all boiled down to affordability and that the federal government should have gone for greater advocacy to sensitize rural women on the benefit of the clean cookstoves as they are main users of firewood.

Mr. Uwem Ujeh, from the Ecological Fund Office [EFO] also expressed his lack of thorough knowledge on the clean cookstoves project and said that the EFO does not initiate projects but rather projects are initiated by communities in need, civil society organisations or other ministries. He added that there was always an implementing agency in case of all projects funded by the office, and in the case of clean cookstoves, it was the ministry of environment, as such, projects are not necessarily funded by the EFO but money released by the ministry of finance into the ecological fund office’s account was used to fund projects.

Mr. Eluma, a deputy director from the Ecological Fund Office expressed dismay at the absence of any representative from the ministry of environment to further explain what went wrong or what progress was being made as regards the project.

While commenting on the issue, Mrs. Onuvae Precious, from Nigerian Alliance for Clean cookstoves noted that a one-page fact sheet stating an alternative use of the funds would be a better option than procuring and distributing the stoves for free which would undermine the market development goal of the Nigerian Alliance of Clean Cookstoves.

Mr. Tunde Salman, from the Good Governance Monitoring Group, noted the scarcity of resources in the country and that the government shouldn’t involved itself with buying stoves as this would support rent seeking and collection and at the end of the day the product would not reach the beneficiaries.

In his final address, Mr. Babayemi, noted that the next stakeholders meeting would be focusing on the great green wall project, which is a planned project to plant a wall of trees across Africa at the southern edge of the Sahara desert as a means to prevent desertification and to track funds that have been released by the Nigerian government.

When Agents of State become Kleptocratic, Women are denied of Alternatives!

codepress September 18, 2015 0

An extract from the foreward of our new Follow The Money report on the activation – #WomenCookstoves

“Even the most well intended and well thought out policies may not have an impact if they are not implemented properly. Unfortunately, the gap between intention and implementation can be quite wide. The many failings of government are often given as the reason good policies cannot really be made to work” as suggested by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo in Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of Way to Fight Global Poverty.

In the same vein, we quite agree that government inadequacy is greatly affecting the impact of foreign aid in a developing country like Nigeria. In November 26, 2014, the federal government of Nigeria announced the approval of NGN 9.2 Billion Naira (NGN 9,287,250,000) for the procurement and distribution of 750,000 clean cookstoves and 18,000 Wonderbags, as part of the National Clean Cooking Scheme (NCCS) to rural women in order to reduce deaths emanating from indoor air pollution, reduce tree felling, and desertification. One would have thought this is a right step, in the right direction, and at the right time when the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, is strengthening key stakeholders in providing alternative energies for their countries.

Follow The Money #WomenCookstoves

It’s already 256 days after this announcement, and 120 days after some of the funds were released to the Federal Ministry of Environment [MOE] of Nigeria, the fate of the 750,000 rural households or women that were suppose to enjoy from the benefit of this project still remains hanging, with lots of controversy around the number of clean cookstoves that the contractor has already “brought” into the country, the court case filed by the contractor against the Ministry of Environment, and most importantly where did all the money go? or where is the money?

It is easy to get depressed by such findings like “the milk has been skimmed somewhere and somehow” 5 billion Naira finally got to the Ministry of Environment account, and 1.2 Billion Naira (NGN 1,253,778,750) out of it went to the contractor, although the MOE in a response to our FOIA letter confirmed NGN 1,393,087,000 is the total sum of the contract, while the remaining 4.2 Billion Naira (4, 287,250,000) is nowhere to be found, and we keep been asked on why we do what we do: “Why bother?” These are the “small” questions in that if perhaps, no one, decided to keep the story alive – with several request for information letters (using the FOIA), monthly stakeholders meetings, tweet – a – thons, and traditional media engagements – this would not have been in the front burner, as it has always been.

In this campaign, the agents of “horizontal accountability” in Nigeria – the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) have been an ally since we started tracking, and they had every bit of information around this activation. As pointed out in Andreas Schedler’s Restraining the State: Conflicts and Agents of Accountability that agencies of accountability do not develop as the result of solo brilliant performances but need requisite coalitions to come together, in this case we had to kick the status quo from its point of equilibrium, while still hoping that the ICPC will sprung into action after been part of the processes we have initiated.

Follow The Money is an initiative of Connected Development [CODE] that advocates, visualizes and tracks funds (government spending or international aid spending] that are meant for local communities, and this report is an output from our #WomenCookstoves activation in December 2014.

We Will Like to Follow your Money but…

codepress September 1, 2015 0

This might be a good read for you, if you are planning to “activate” or partner with  us!

In the last three years, since Follow The Money  (FTM) started, we have had questions around what kind of money do we “follow” or track, and how can we approach your team to initiate a campaign (We refer to this as activation, and some of the questions are – how can we partner with Follow The Money; You Follow The Money people will you follow the 500 million Naira grant just approved by the World Bank; Follow The Money, you should track the billions going to SURE – P; Follow The Money, there is a new government, please follow every dime going to government officials.

 

There is a simple answer to this: Connected Development’s [CODE] Follow The Money tracks funds that are meant for infrastructures or inputs in rural communities eg health, education, and other social incentives (In essence, capital projects which includes provision of drugs, health facilities, environmental inputs such as water boreholes, incineration equipment, education incentives such as libraries, books etc. We are sorry to conclude that FTM does not track funds that are concerned with staff salaries, employee or employer’s benefits etc.

The Kinds of funds we are interested in tracking

The kinds of funds we are interested in tracking at Follow The Money Nigeria

However, it should be noted that while the list above remains of top priority, there are other secondary considerations and priorities. The funds that FTM track must be in the area of Health, Education and Environment (HEE). At times, we can be interested in cross – cutting issues that emanated from any of these three. These three are most important for rural communities to exist and live sustainably.

 

Although, Follow The Money is a model of investigative journalism, it is not involved in funds that have already been disbursed, or should have worked in communities it was meant for. An example is a NGN 200 million that was announced by the government of Nigeria in 2013 to provide 10 boreholes in Adavi Local Government Area. Just because Two years has passed on that issue, FTM will not be interested in such, as it is already two years.Because, we hope to prevent corruption, we are interested in fresh fund releases, not more than one year from funds approval or release by either government or the aid agency.

 

When you have taught this through, you, your organization, your group can then send a mail to activations@followthemoneng.org; call our hotline at 09- 291-7545 or fill our activation form online at http://followthemoneyng.org/activations.html. We will notify you for further action after we have received your request for activation. It is not necessary that you should be able to provide resources for the project, but at times we have been activated by groups that are willing to provide resources, especially as in – kind contributions during the activation lifetime.

 

It’s then Way to Go! did you just read that some funds got approved to providing infrastructures or inputs in your rural community? reach out to us now, and we can quickly follow up! It might just be the little you can do for your local community. It might also interest you to know that the team are always involved in researching funds that have just been approved to local communities, as such we can dive into activation using our primary desk research and data mining results.