Category: Peace and Humanitarian Response

Strengthening State Capacities and Women’s Participation in COVID Response

Communications January 25, 2021 0

UN Women: Broader Peace-building Initiative Campaign

The current COVID-19 health emergency is worsening gender inequalities. There is no gainsaying that COVID19 will likely have longer-term gender impacts, pointing to the need to urgently prioritise the best possible response for children, women and the most marginalised. 

The pandemic has deepened pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political, and economic systems. Government’s response to the crisis has failed to adequately integrate gender responsiveness. This can be attributed to low participation of women in the decision-making structures on COVID-19. Women’s voices and needs are inadequately reflected in formal response structures, despite their varying contributions, and not many interventions are working to increase women’s meaningful participation.

Typically, women in Nigeria are grossly underrepresented in decision-making structures, with 4% representation in national parliament, 4.43% in state legislatures and 16.2% of ministerial appointments. Women’s unequal representation puts their specific needs at risk of being overlooked in the development and monitoring of COVID-19 actions, policies, plans and budgets, including for economic recovery and future health resilience. Women’s leadership and participation in decision making in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial because the impact affects them disproportionately. To amplify women’s leadership and ensure their active participation, there is a need to build cohesion and create visibility around women-led efforts.

Hence, Connected Development (CODE) in collaboration  with UN Women are  implementing  the project on Strengthening State Capacities and Women’s Participation in COVID Response and Broader Peacebuilding Initiatives’. The project seeks to advance women’s meaningful participation in the COVID-19 response and beyond in Kaduna state.

CODE will strengthen women’s capacity and equip them with the necessary tools, skills and expertise to directly participate in COVID19 Response and Broader Peacebuilding Initiatives in Kaduna State. 

Through CODE’s result-oriented advocacy strategy, capacity strengthening strategy, communications expertise and technology resources, we will strengthen women’s capacity and equip them with the necessary tools, skills and expertise to directly participate in COVID19 Response and Broader Peacebuilding Initiatives in Kaduna State.

This project is designed to objectively;

  • Strengthen the capacity of women, girls and existing women led advocacy organizations to participate in the development and monitoring of COVID 19 actions, policies, plans and budget including government strategic plan for economic recovery and future health resilience
  • To Advocate and amplify women’s leadership and active participation in the decision-making response through effective coalition building and collaboration between women organizations and women in political leadership position

Ensuring and Implementing Conflict Prevention and Management Strategies in Nigeria

Chambers Umezulike December 1, 2016 0

The North Eastern, Niger Delta and Middle Belt regions of Nigeria have been witnessing several conflicts and fatalities in recent times. These include terrorism, militancy and the crisis between herdsmen & their host, respectively. In the light of this, on Monday, 28 November, CODE participated in the Peace and Security Working Group (PSWG) Meeting hosted by the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP). The PSWG is a platform for peace and security analysis, advocacy, coordination and capacity building. The platform is made up of several Civil Society Actors, international donors/agencies, and foreign embassies.

During the meeting, organizations such as Centre for Democracy & Development, NSRP,  Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta etc. gave updates on their current activities in ensuring peace and security in the country. CODE on its part intimated the participants of its peace and security works in two areas: 1). Comparative electoral processes research and activities, so as to promote the use of information technology in electioneering in order to reduce violence during elections. CODE observed the United States Presidential Election and was able to draw lessons from the exercise which could be employed in Nigeria to ensure improved electoral processes and violence reduction. CODE was also asked to make a presentation in the next PSWG meeting in January, 2017 on the observation and experiences regarding this. 2). CODE has a campaign on ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of humanitarian funds in the North Eastern (NE) part of the country. In this light, CODE is tracking the governmental implementation of N53 billion provided by international donors for the rehabilitation of the NE zone.

During the meeting, a new name, Peace and Security Network (PSN) was also recommended for PSWG. This is for perfect representation of the mandate of the coordination group. PSN is indeed an important platform for stakeholderial coordination on peace and security activities and strategies to prevent & manage conflicts around the country. Its’ our hope that the platform implements its strategies to ensure political stability in the country so as for a favorable environment for economic activities and Foreign Direct Investment attraction.

Sustainaware: CODE, YEN Synergise to promote Project #SwitchBags in Zambia and Subsaharan Africa

Hamzat Lawal June 4, 2016 2

Leading Youth Organisations in Africa such as Connected Development (CODE) in Nigeria, Youth Environment Network (YEN) in Zambia as well as other youth organisation in Malawi, Zero Waste Centre for Africa and No Excuse in Slovenia have agreed to synergise in the fight to save our planet earth by signing up to promote ‘Project #SwitchBags’, a campaign on the ban on single-use of plastic bags in Zambia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The urge to synergise in saving our planet earth became imperative at the last Sustainaware Regional Partners Meetings (RPM-Africa) in Lusaka, Zambia. The meeting which was scheduled to be a two-day roundtable meeting on Global Partnership towards attaining speedy implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at various countries of Africa and other Europe, Asia and across the globe, which is part of the objectives Sustainaware seeks to achieve, gave African youths opportunity for dialogue on the action plan towards addressing myriad of challenges confronting the continent.

Project Coordinator for #SwitchBags, Luwi Nguluka while speaking during her presentation at the meeting said the campaign also seeks to educate people across the globe on the hazardous impacts of plastics waste (non bio degradable) to our immediate environment, with the intention to ultimately cause reduction in the use of plastics bags that are non-bio-degradable and encourage the use of biodegradable bags.

Tomaz Gorenc, Sustainaware Coordinator and Team Lead for No Excuse, a youth campaign organisation based in Slovenia, who applauded this initiative coming from young people in Africa said “the impacts of young people would never be felt until platforms and opportunities for global partnership such as Sustainaware are being made available to them”. He added that the Sustainaware project having being funded by the European Union (EU) has, in the last five years focused on how young people across the globe can be the agents of change within their various continents by providing solutions to emerging challenges in the 21st Century.

Hamzat Lawal during his presentation on SDGs

Hamzat Lawal during his presentation on SDGs

Billy Lombe, Founder and CEO of YEN said, YEN has since its inception single-handedly led several campaigns on environmental sustainability, Gender Equality and Human Rights issues in Zambia. “YEN has a mandate to mainstream Gender Equality and women empowerment in all programmes and projects”. He alluded further that YEN workds to uphold this mandate: facilitating inclusive development, catalysing the achievements of the SDGs.

Chief Executive, CODE, Hamzat Lawal who made an excellent presentation on SDGs highlighted the roles of the youths towards actualising each goal. He said the role of young people cannnot be overemphasised in the implementation of SDGs whether in Africa or Europe.  “ it is our future and until we realize the need to work in partnership, we may never be able to achieve much” citing several impacts of Follow The Money and other CODE’s projects in Nigeria as major contributions any youth organisation could offer its country.

[Press Release] Time is Running Out For Sick Children with High Lead in Shikira

Hamzat Lawal May 5, 2016 0

Press Release for Immediate Publication

 [Abuja, May 9, 2016] Over one year after lead disaster that killed little children, nothing has been done to save other living as Connected Development [CODE] warns that time is running out to solve the Niger crisis in Nigeria. “Shikira which harbours two villages (Ungwar Magiro and Ungwar Kawo) is reaching crisis point” said Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive, CODE. “More than one year after the lead poisoning disaster was first discovered in Niger state, over 300 hundred children below 5 years are still awaiting critical medical treatment.

Our partner, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) / Doctors Without Borders is ready and willing to treat these children, but cannot do so until their homes have been environmentally remediated. It’s time to get the lead out of Shikira,” he continues.

Remediation was due to begin at the end of October 2015, directly after the last rainy season. The window for remediation in Shikira is closing rapidly, if the process is not started before the end of May, it will be too late before the next rainy season. This could have disastrous consequences for the community, mostly vulnerable sick children – if the funds are not released now, doctors chances of treating lead-poisoning victims in Shikira is drastically reduced.

Lawal, has called on President Buhari led federal government to release the needed funds, estimated to be five hundred million naira ($2.6M) for remediation through the Ecological Funds Office under the Presidency so sick children can get chelation therapy treatments and to help curb the spread of lead poison contaminations to other neighbouring villages.

 Mr Lawal, who spoke at the Follow the Money Stakeholders Town Hall Meeting held on May 4 in Minna, Niger state, said he has called on the President and the National Assembly to declare Shikira community a state of emergency in the country.

 He further expressed his disappointment on some key agencies of the government who were not present at the meeting.

 “I’m not happy that relevant agencies of government, most especially federal ministry of environment, ministry of solid minerals and ministry of health are not present at this important meeting after sending invitations ahead of time.

 “It shows us to what extent government takes the Nigerian life serious, most especially our vulnerable children who needs urgent medical attention,” he said.

He concluded by saying, ‘As part of Follow The Money social media campaign using the hash tag #SaveShikira on Twitter, upon returning to Abuja, we tweeted at the Honourable Minister for Environment, Amina J. Mohammed, and she responded saying plans are underway to visit Shikira after the Ministerial briefing holding this week Wednesday’. But can children in Shikira wait any longer? Time that we don’t have would tell!

On Community Outreach To Shikira

Sefiya Ibrahim is a 27 years mother to Hafizu Ibrahim, a 9 month old baby who has been on admission in Kagara general hospital for 16 days receiving treatments from lead poison. According to MSF, Hafizu has over 200 mg/kg Pb lead level in his blood stream and this are the cases of other children in Shikira below 5 years. In tears, Safiya is pleading with the government to come to their aid so she would not lose her son after losing two children in 2015 due to the outbreak. ‘I’m begging our President to come and help us so we can see our children grow to become men and help us when we’re old’.

 Little Ibrahim did not stop crying the entire time we were in the hospital and he could not be pacified. We call the relevant government agencies to order and demand that remediation be done in these communities. We call on citizens to lend their voices to #SaveShikira and only immediate action by the Government can change the situation for the better. Doctors conformed that Hafizu has over 200 mg/kg Pb in his blood stream.

Before the Lead Poison Outbreak

Ever since the disease broke out in the Northern Region, it has left many dead. The disease is highly deadly and sometimes lead to fatal condition which causes severe mental and physical impairment. Young children below 5 years are most vulnerable to the lead poison, a highly toxic metal. This is caused by unregulated mining practices in communities across the country.

In May 2012, Occupational Knowledge International (Ok International) submitted a report to the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals highlighting flash points of informal mining site is Nigeria that uses dangerous substances and mining techniques which are also prone to lead poison. In this report, Niger, Ebonyi, Nassarawa, Kaduna among other states where mentioned. The outbreak of lead in Niger state shows that nothing was done to curtail this buttressing government recklessness which has taken innocent lives, mostly children.

 CODE Stakeholders Town Hall Meeting

Speaking at the town’s hall meeting hosted by CODE in Minna, the Emirate Council representative, Galadima Katako of the Kagara community, said that the outburst has been on since last year, adding that he expected the government would have found a lasting solution.

He stressed that it is important for good coordinated approach spearheaded by government so we don’t have duplication of efforts and misinformation about the plight of our people. We are begging for quick actions on remediation so our sick children can access free medical treatments by doctors on the ground ready to administer them.

‘The issue has lingered on for a while now, and if the federal government does not provide a solution to it by July, then the situation will be critical.” he stressed.

 “I want the Federal Government to help put an end to this unregulated mining activities and provide alternatives to secure jobs for the villages, ranging from agriculture amongst others,” he said.

 However, the representative of the local miners, Shaibu Usman, stated that they agree that the mining they do is unregulated, adding that it’s the only source of their income in which they feed their families and also train their kids by sending them to school.

 “We know that the lead poison generated from our mining, but we want the government to create jobs for us so we can stop the mining we do, or teach us how to mine safely and provide equipments to help us do it better” Usman said.

 The Women Representative, Nuttu Shikira, also present complained about how life has become difficult for them due to the lead poison. ‘We have lost 30 children since the outbreak last year and we’re really worried so we don’t lose other children’. We call on the government of President Muhamadu Buhari to please help us. Not only our children are sick, even our husband has been ill for some time and can’t do any work again leaving me and my children to go hungry most times.   

 Mallama Shikira, further called on the Federal Government to provide urgent assistance to the people of her community.

 Also speaking, a representative and Doctor, Simba Tirima, of Medicine and Frontiers, MSF, said that there is a high need to eradicate the lead poison existing in the various communities so as to have a healthy environment.

 “there is need for coordinated efforts by the people living within the Shikira community to curtail the spread of the lead dust as a result of unsafe mining activities being carried out by the local artisanal miners” he said.

 He however noted that in November 2015, characterisation was done to ascertain the level of contamination in the community and found out that more than 2500 community members exposed with over 300 children with high lead level in their blood stream.

MSF has set up a base in Kagara since October 2015 and with support from TerraGraphics conducted a full environmental characterization in November 2015 with a remediation plan submitted to the government.

‘We saw in some cases >500,000 mg/kg Pb in some areas which is far much higher that US EPA threshold which is 400 mg/kg Pb for residential soils’, Tirima noted.

Tsema Okoye, Global Rights representative added that remediation and treatment are not the only ideal solutions to the poison, stating that the ideal solution to this is to encourage these artisanal miners to practice safer mining and have government regulate this activities in local communities across the country. ‘The rains are here and in all of this, safer mining practices is key in ensuring no more outbreak in Nigeria is recorded’.

Hope for Shikira

TerraGraphics, MSF and local stakeholders including Follow The Money Team are all ready to start work immediately upon the release of the funds. Both organisations have been collaborating with Government agencies and ministries to assure there is a system in place that is effective, accountable, transparent and that will guarantee the best outcomes for the communities of Shikira.

This kind of collaboration ensures community participation and ownership of both process and results while assuring accountability and compliance with internationally recognised standards and best practices.

Present at the meeting were the representative of the Niger State House of Assembly, Local NGOs in the state, Representative from Independence Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Representative from security agencies, Shikira District Head, Head local Miners, Shikira Women Representative, Representative from the Emirate Council in Kagara, Project Coordinator in Kagara for MSF/Doctors Without Borders, the media and Global Rights.

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Editor’s Note:

Pictures from the Town’s Hall Meeting –  https://flic.kr/s/aHskzFbXxp

 Connected Development [CODE] is a non government organization whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa.

http://connecteddevelopment.org

 Follow The Money initiative has over 420 coalition members made up of NGOs, Journalists Campaigners, Activists and Academics using available data to ensure funds that are meant for local communities reach them. http://followthemoneyng.org

 For Clarifications or Interviews:

In Abuja, Nigeria: Amina Mohammed, Communications Officer | amina@connecteddevelopment.org | +234-803-300-9722.
In Abuja, Nigeria: Hamzat Lawal | hamzy@connecteddevelopment.org | +234-809-294-9669 / +234-806-869-9956 (WhatsApp & SMS Only).