Ending Open Defecation in Nigeria: How Realistic is it?

Titus Tukurah December 6, 2019 0

Kevwe Precious Oghide

A major concern in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal on Water Sanitation and Hygiene Is how to end Open Defecation by 2030. How realistic is this?

Nigeria is suffering from a defecation problem. Defecating in the open is one of the leading devastating menaces to public health in Nigeria. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that about 122,000 Nigerians, including 87,000 children under the age of five die every year from diarrhoea, intestinal worm infections, cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and other preventable sanitation-related illnesses.

Although access to clean sanitation facilities has improved significantly, due to increased funding and efforts by UNICEF, the European Union, and other global development agencies working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 6 on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); the results are still far from quantifiable. Over two-third of Nigeria’s population suffer from poor hygiene and live without access to necessary sewage and sanitation facilities. And without proper sanitation facilities, people have no choice than to defecate in open and unsafe places, attracting unwanted health hazards and safety problems, especially for women and children.

Clean Nigeria Logo

Today, Nigeria suffers not only from poor hygiene but inadequate medical care, a menace that is linked to poverty. Thus, eradicating open defecation is an important part of efforts to reduce poverty. The general population forgo hand washing after using the toilet due to sanitation ignorance, lack of proper water supply systems and poorly maintained facilities. With the gaps in sanitation infrastructure, Nigerians can only dream of simple toilet facilities.

One prevalent challenge to ending open defecation is not just erecting sanitation structures or providing clean and safe toilets but changing people’s behaviour from choosing farm fields, railways, motor parks, stadiums, highways, streets, roads, playgrounds, bushes, forests and water bodies, to using the toilets. Many rural dwellers, for instance defecate in the open, not necessarily because they do not have access to toilets but because of deep-rooted cultural practices. How do we create awareness of the dangers and detrimental health effects of this practice? How can we share information that will spur behavioural change in an effort to bridge the gap between poor sanitation and the proper use of toilets? There is a mother in a grassroots community who cleans her baby’s faeces, rinses her hands, and continues cooking, though her hands are not thoroughly washed. There is a child who defecates in a corner and goes back to eating his meal nearby. There is a girl who goes to the bush to defecate and is at risk of rape, kidnap or death. The health and safety implications are terrifying.

Although the Nigerian Government is making conscious efforts to prioritize sanitation, with the launch of Clean Nigeria, the results are not encouraging. Many Nigerians understand the need for clean water but knowledge of sanitation is a far cry. 

Girl fetching water in Gandiya Community in Kano State

To achieve an Open Defecation Free (ODF) society, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources must prioritize sanitation, especially at a time when the country faces the challenge of standard and adequate medical facilities. While the need for clean water and sanitation, particularly in grassroots areas is understood, the relevant government, international development agencies and civil society groups must begin an urgent nationwide sensitization campaign about the necessity of proper sanitation and good hygiene practice as this has a significant impact on healthy living. To be fair, some humanitarian organisations like UNICEF, USAID, EU and Connected Development [CODE] have taken up this cause but it requires the efforts of every Ministry, Institution, the private sector, donor agencies and even individuals to make ODF a reality in Nigeria. Of the 774 Local Governments in the country, only ten are Open Defecation Free. Bauchi, Benue, Cross River and Jigawa State account for the ten LGAs that are leading the drive towards an ODF Nigeria.

It is worthy of note that Nigeria loses about 1.3% (N455 billion) of its GDP annually to poor sanitation as a result of illness, low productivity, loss of earning opportunities and other factors. Ending open defecation in Nigeria can mop up this economic loss.

To urgently tackle Open Defecation, relevant Ministries must set up strong sanitation policies and make budget provisions that reach even the most remote grassroots areas. Nigeria needs a separate budget line for sanitation with a special allocation to end open defecation and put measures in place for accountable spending. CODE, through its social accountability movement, Follow The Money, can track funding in the fight to end open defecation and ensure that monies disbursed for the cause are judiciously utilised. The government needs to initiate bills/laws to promote sanitation and take urgent action to implement an open defecation roadmap at State and Local Government levels. Corporate Organisations should prioritize sanitation in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) —they can make budget allowances for erecting mobile toilets, repairing broken facilities, providing water supply to improve the practice of proper sanitation, in urban areas. There is a need to adopt all necessary means to sensitize the public on the importance of sanitation and hygiene. It is not enough to provide clean and safe toilets but also to change behaviours as a means to bridge the gap between building latrines and their proper use.

In 2014, India began an intentional and aggressive nationwide campaign to stop 623million of its population from practising Open Defecation. Today, India has recorded 94% success rate. If India, with its very large population can achieve this, so can Nigeria. 

Kevwe Precious Oghide is the Communications Lead at Connected Development [CODE]. She has a profound appreciation for great humanitarian service, demonstrates high ethical standards and has an outstanding record of generating high impact results through creativity and collaboration.
Reach her via Kevwe@connecteddevelopment.org

My Journey Towards Greatness In CODE by Nkem Iroala

Hamzat Lawal August 16, 2016 0

My father was sent on a diplomatic mission to South Africa, which availed me the opportunity to travel to SA, but I kept in touch with my home country. While abroad, I studied Bcom Financial Management at Varsity College South Africa. I have always wanted to gain my first work experience in my beloved country.

I was having a concise discussion with my sister about doing something that will keep me busy, and empower me positively when I return to Nigeria before I go for my National Youth Service. She then told me about CODE, and I was immediately drawn to the idea of working for CODE as I got more knowledge on the amazing work that they do. She immediately put a call through Hamzat Lawal who is the CEO of Connected Development and told him that I was interested in doing my summer internship with his organization, he replied by telling her I should send him my CV and Cover Letter. A week later when I returned to Nigeria, I sent my CV and cover letter to Hamzat, who replied with an appointment on Monday by 11am. I felt excited, so I went through the organization website and did some reading to get to know more about CODE before going for the interview. After going through the website, I felt prompt and ready for the interview.

The day of the interview finally came, I was excited but nervous as well because I didn’t know what to expect. While approaching the office, I met Rita, CODEs Administrative officer at the door way, I introduced myself to her and the first thing she said to me was “you are 15minutes late”. That made me more nervous but I had to put myself together, after which I apologized for coming late. She then took me into the office and as I came in I greeted everyone. I went to the conference table where I was introduced to the interviewer by the name of Dotun Babayemi who is the Monitoring and Evaluation Expert for CODE. While seated on the hot sit, Dotun noticed I was sweating a bit and decided to go put on the air condition for me, which I thought was really nice of him. He asked me what I knew about CODE and I told him everything. He made the interview more relaxing as we laughed about some comments he made. The interview finally came to an end and we said our goodbyes.

20151225_095514On my way home I felt I didn’t do quite well at the interview so I was really concerned that they wouldn’t employ me. I called my sister and told her about the interview and how I think I messed up but she told me to calm down and not overthink things.

A day after the interview, I kept checking my mail to see if I got a mail from CODE. And on a Sunday afternoon, I finally got the mail I have been waiting for, which notified me that my application was successful and that I should resume work on Tuesday, July 12 by 8am. I was excited that I will be leaving the house every day, no more days of lazing around the house, time to be productive. Although I wasn’t too happy that I have to resume by 8am but such is life, so I had to accept it, and looking back now, I have come to realize that pushing yourself is more rewarding than staying in your comfort zone.

July 12 came and I went to work. I met with the team, and I must say they are really friendly and welcomed me warmly. I didn’t really do much work on my first day, but the second day till now has been work, work and work.

I partook at the launch of CODEs Virtual newsroom. The product from the Virtual newsroom is set to engage and empower marginalized people in rural areas to enhance their livelihoods. I was the note taker for the meeting. For me it wasn’t just all about taking down notes but to gain an in-depth understanding of Follow The Money campaign and this new initiative.

Some of the responsibilities I have been allocated to are: writing down minutes of most meetings and sharing them amongst the team members, final auditing of CODE’S financial report before been sent to one of our donor – HBF, and partaking in the WhatsApp hangout with CODES community reporters, where I engaged with the reporters and answered some of their questions.

I was opportuned to follow the CEO himself Mr Hamzat to TVC Nigeria for a live stream to give an update about Follow the Money and #SaveShikira campaign. On our way I asked him “so am just going to take pictures right, while you do the talking”? And he said “No Nkem, it’s not all about taking pictures, it’s for you to gain experience and interact with people”. I took it in and when we went to TVC office, I interacted with their staffs, which was a good experience for me.

I represented CODE at the Public Consultative Forum with Civil Society Organization and the Organized Private Sector on the 2017-2019 Medium Term Fiscal Framework that was hosted by the Honorable Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma. The conference was very interesting and gave me the opportunity to learn many issues and insights in regards to the budget. It was an enriching experience for me.

CODE held a press conference on the 26th of July, on their work in the past as well as future projects. I attended the conference and my primary role was to write down minutes, record the entire session and transcribe it. Transcribing an audio recording into text format wasn’t an easy task at all, it was time consuming and it required patience but at the end of the day I managed to finish and it was worth it.

I have always wanted to work for an NGO that reaches out to the less privileged. I believe in giving back to the community with my time and voice, and CODE provides that platform for me to do that.  

My experience at CODE so far has been an exceptional one. I am surrounded by skilled specialist with the main mission of empowering marginalized communities. Working with young experienced minds that are eager to make an impact in our society despite the economic conditions really inspires me. The experience and exposure I have gained in my short time at CODE has been incredible. I have had the opportunity to meet diverse groups of people and be inspired by the great work that is going on.

I look forward to entering a culture that is courteous and caring. Coming into work every morning where all interactions are heartfelt and genuine. It is almost like I am in a different culture from my typical experiences in the general public. Walking into work and being surrounded by the wonderful associates of CODE makes my work day much more enjoyable. More importantly, I am looking forward to making a change and contributing to the growth of CODE by doing my work with great efficiency and bringing new ideas to the table, that would enrich the lives of people in the society.

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

Hamzat Lawal July 19, 2016 4

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
GROUP 3

“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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

Five ways to avoid public Urination

Hamzat Lawal June 6, 2016 0

In celebration of the world environment day, i choose to come up with this little write up, aside from hygiene. this is also a means advocating for safe, green and habitable environment

Five ways to avoid public urination in Nigeria.

I have always wondered why a well-dressed man, apparently driving in an expensive car, would pull up by the roadside, unzip his trousers and pull out his manhood to urinate.

The funny part is you see them using their hands to cover the side shaft of the manhood on both sides while the urine projects into the earth below.Thereby polluting the air, and  killing our beautiful green plants . Some just bend their upper body backwards a bit, pushing their waist out while supporting it with their right hand and the other left holding the manhood. Some just pull down their pants and bend down.

Little did I know that ladies also urinate by the roadside, I freaked out when I saw a lady in Abuja around 2pm doing the same on top the the beautiful green grasses by the road side. She was dressed in her pink skirt and a blue top, she stood by the expressway, opened her legs while standing with her hands beneath the skirt.

From afar I watched the long urine gush out from between her legs. The sight of it got me so irritated and curious.The relief you often find on their faces suggest most people who urinate in the open, in public area, possibly have held the urine for so long and just couldn’t go an inch further with their heavy bladder.

For men, once they are done, they angle it to shake off the last drops before returning it  back to their trousers. Sometimes, urine droplets lands on their hands, and even their trousers. Many would just go ahead and rub their hands on their trouser and then walk away. This is highly unhygienic.

Most women would stamp their feet on the ground twice for the last drop of urine to fall out then they clean with tissue papers or rinse through with water

Nature calls are sometimes difficult to cheat.  But passing it out for the public to see is a no no, aesthetically and hygienically.  More so it is highly not lady like for women to be seen squatting by the roadside to pass urine.

Avoiding public defecation is a huge challenge in Nigeria as most city planners do not provide for such emergencies. Many cities are without public toilets and restroom. But here are five simple things you can do to help you avoid being pressed in places you may not have access to toilets, and how to react if nature calls unexpectedly.

  1. Use the toilet before stepping out: This is very important to all of us.No  matter where ever you are, once you know it’s time to step out from where you are ensure you use the toilet to pass out whatever it is from your body system.This should be done a second before you walk out of the door to your car.
  1. Self Discipline: This has got to to do with the mindset, once you can discipline yourself from every other thing, then you could discipline yourself from Urinating by the road side.
  1. Parental Upbringing: Growing up as a child, my teacher will tell me “Charity begins at home”. Parents should learn to teach their kids that Urinating by the roadside is wrong and they shall grow up with such training and of course pass it on to their own kids.

4.Make use of Eatery or Bank: Over time I have heard babes say they are shy of telling people they want to use the toilet,but really though we are all use the toilet no matter how classic we are. When you feel pressed walk into a bank or an eatery and head straight to gents or ladies and I can assure you,no one will stop to question.

  1. Make use of a secluded area: This will fall in place of when you can not locate a bank or an eatery. Once you get so pressed ensure you look for a well secluded corner where no one can see you but then again be conscious of secluded areas.

Let help save our plants in our environment.  Happy environmental day all.

Senate urges FG to approve funds for #SaveShikira

Hamzat Lawal June 3, 2016 0

The Senate on Thursday, June 2, urged the federal government to urgently approve and release the needed intervention funds from the ecological funds office for urgent remediation to help #saveshikira and affected communities.
In a three paragraph motion read by the Niger East senatorial district representative, David Umaru, the Senate called on the key federal government (ministry of health, solid minerals and environment) to re-mediate the environment and promote safer mining programmes for artisan miners.
The motion  is titled: The urgent remediation of lead poisoning in Shikira community of Niger state.
Hence, the Senate also called on  the Senate committee on solid minerals to review the 2007 mining act to reflect present realities in the sector as it affects local communities and artisan miners.
While-making contributions on #saveshikira, Umaru said the Senate is shocked at the survey result of the Federal Ministry of Health, confirming that 149 children who were under age five were tested for lead.
He added that the Senate is worried that environmental testing of residential buildings during the same survey indicated that there was a severe contamination of the environment.
“That early childhood exposure has been linked to violent criminal behavior later in the early adult life,It is therefore estimated that childhood lead exposure is costing developing countries 992 billion dollars annually due to reduction in IQ’s and earning potential according to a new study published recently,”he said
He noted that “The potential of lead poisoning to irrevocably inflict long term neurocognitive deficits on generations, there is need to urgently address this issue of national importance,
“This is a community that is already living below poverty line. All the children are already infected by this epidermic,” he said.
Also speaking , Shehu sanni representing Kaduna central senatorial district said the nation should work towards establishing a nuclear act.
“What the senate can do is to take the activities of illegal matters seriously. We have seen foreigners and Asians siphoning our resources. We should take an action that will address the problem,” he said.
There was a lead outbreak epidemic that recorded 65 cases in May 2015 in Rafi local government, which killed more than 28 children below the age of five. Many of which have  died in Shikira village of Madaka district, Rafi local government area of Niger State.
The affected children suffered convulsion and weakness of limbs as medical examination proved that the children died from lead poising arising from illegal artisan gold mining activities in the area.

8 things to know about LEAD Poison

Hamzat Lawal May 13, 2016 0

Many Nigerians only hear about LEAD Poison and how it is affecting children in most of the mining states in Northern part of Nigeria. But careless of how its been contacted or passed on.

Many people have that tiny voice in their head that tells them (any way, wetin concern me, na village people na, dem get the sickness,dirty people, farmers dem).

Many of us already have a nonchalant attitude towards the disease, not knowing the mode of transmission, causes, symptoms or even how deadly it is. I am so sure i just spoke your mind. Not to worry i will give you an insight to it.

Let me start by explaining what LEAD Poison is?

According to research carried out by scientists, LEAD Poison is a very serious and highly fatal condition which only occurs when it builds in the body system. Aside from that, it is also a highly toxic metal and very lethal poison.

From that definition, one would know that in one way or the other we touch or hold metal which simply means it affects us all. Having said all of that, here are eight (8) things you need to know about LEAD poison.

1) It is found in lead based paints (Paints on the walls of old houses); Ever since we all heard about the poison, all we hear is, the farmers from one community went into illegal mining and as a result of that came in contact the poison. But here it is, go to urban areas; you would find old houses with paints falling out.

2) It is also found in toys; Let me ask, how many villagers buy toys for their kids? I am sure your answer is none. Ninety percent (90%) of our kids today all have toys with which they play with it. For instance, it could be seen in old toys or imported toys. It gets to them while making them in the factories.

3) Pregnant women are at a high risk of getting it; All over the world today, from villages, to communities, to town to city, we have women who get pregnant and also give births on a daily basis. They are at higher risks of getting it.

4) Drinking water also can be contaminated by the poison; It is often said that “Water is life” and we all drink water, but ironically LEAD poison can be found in water. This happens through metal corrosion or the wearing away of pluming materials in the water system and households.

5) It also breeds in soil; Do you know that soil and walkways around industrial areas may contain LEAD. It could get contaminated through past use of LEAD in gasoline.

6) Children are also at risk; Children below the age of six (6) can contact the poison because their brain and nervous system are still developing, and they often play with soil, aside from that pregnant mother could pass it on from the womb through the intestine.

7) If discovered early, it could be treated but if not it cannot be reversed; Once it’s detected early enough, it can be treated with Chelation therapy and EDTA , but in  cases where it leads to severe damages, it cannot be reversed. Chelation therapy is a series of intravenous infusions containing disodium EDTA and various other substances. It is sometimes done by swallowing EDTA or other agents in pill form.

8) Basic symptoms of LEAD poison; This is a list symptoms of patience with Lead Poison; i. Abdominal Pain, ii. Abdominal Cramps, iii. Aggressive Behavior, iv. Constipation, v. Sleeping Problems, vi. Headaches, vii. Irritability, viii. Loss of Developmental Skills in Children, ix. Loss of appetite, x. Fatigue, xi. High Blood Pressure, xii. Numbness or Tingling in the extremities, xiii. Memory Loss, xiv. Anemia, xv. Kidney Dysfunction.

One would realize that LEAD poison is not only restricted to the people from the mining states. Yes, they might have one way or the other gotten exposed to the poison due to ignorance and lack of job by going into illegal mining. But anyone could be a victim of Lead Poison.

Let’s give a helping hand to the affected victims, as it is often said “Health is Wealth”.

Next episode promises to be interesting as we talk about prevention of the LEAD poison.

 

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!