Archive | July, 2011

Best way to visualize Climate Change

28 Jul

How do you visually portray climate change, a problem that needs action now to prevent impacts later? Here’s one way to do it.

Ferdi Rizkiyanto, an Indonesian digital artist, has created this powerful image and has generously licensed its use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

What do you think? What does this image make you feel? Do you know of other examples of simple visual messages about climate change?

Look closely, you could find your city, your village or even your home in this hour glass. Wisdom says……..”Act Now Nigeria”

Redd: Problems and Prospects

27 Jul




The Mexican ocean resort of Cancun is the scene of the 2010 UN climate talks. Almost  200 nations are negotiating on how to reduce carbon emissions which scientists say causes global warming. To many people who have arrived for the conference the choice of Cancun is a little incongrous – a holiday destination of unlimited development, all-inclusive package holidays, and an awful lot of concrete. The local forest was cut down, pushing the indigenious Mayan population further into Mexico’s natural habitat. Ironically, the subject of deforestation has been one of the main topics discussed at the Climate Change summit being held here. Ugochi Anyaka reports from the white beaches and sapphire seas of the Gulf of Mexico.

To listen, lick on the link below and click play.

Making forest-climate plans gender friendly

27 Jul

The forest is a source of livelihood to lots of host communities. Men, women, children and animal depend on it for survival. But the use of the forest is most important to women because they are the heart of the home and most vulnerable to Climate Change.

This special report  focuses on the need to make forest and climate plans gender friendly. (Please click on the link below and  click play on the page)


Nigeria’s waning status in climate negotiation

26 Jul

Deputy Editor, Sunday Independent, Michael Simire, and Freelance Science Writer, Alex Abutu, explore Nigeria’s plummeting prominence in climate change negotiation on the African continent, in the light of recent developments that threaten to put the nation’s Durban preparation in jeopardy

Barely four months to the 17th round of the United Nations-backed climate change conference scheduled for Durban in South Africa, Nigeria’s place as a leading voice seeking justice for the African continent appears to have taken a free-fall.

Proceedings from the recently-held climate talks in Bonn, Germany indicated that, out of the over 200 negotiators appointed as Africa’s representatives under the platform of the African Group, only one Nigerian was acknowledged.

The list showed that South Africa had 29 negotiators, including the national focal person; Ghana had six; Sudan, five; Gambia, three; Senegal, eight; Mali, four; Kenya, five; Malawi, four; Egypt, six; and Ethiopia, two.

Others included Benin, two; Angola, two; Algeria, seven; Congo, two; DR Congo, 18; Gabon, six; Tanzania, seven; Togo, three; and Zambia, four.

This development is coming against the backdrop of the recent constitution of the
transitional committee to design of the Green Climate Fund which had members from eight African countries, excluding Nigeria.

The African countries represented on the transitional Committee are South Africa, Gabon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, DR Congo, Burkina Faso and Zambia. South Africa eventually emerged as one of the three co-chairs of the committee.

Nigeria had chaired the African Group in the past and championed the continent’s advocacy for equitable climate interest and contributed appreciably to the decision not to accept loans from developed countries to tackle climate change impact.

Seven months after the UNFCCC’s (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) 16th Conference of Parties (COP) that held in Cancun, Mexico late last year, not a single forum has so far been convened to articulate the nation’s post-Cancun strategy towards determining a way forward.

“This was due to the elections and the transition programme, such that there was a lull in government activities since January,” said Samuel Adejuwon, the nation’s Designated National Authority (DNA) and Head, Special Climate Change Unit (SCCU) in the Federal Ministry of Environment (FME). He was the only Nigerian negotiator in Bonn, according to the UNFCCC.

But Adejuwon countered the UN body’s claim, saying, “That can’t be true. There were five or six of us from Nigeria there. Myself and Salisu Dahiru of the National REDD Programme as well as officials of the Nigerian Embassy who came from Berlin to join us in Bonn. We had challenges of funding as we could not get any money from government to finance the six-member delegation from Nigeria initially proposed. I travelled on the UNFCCC platform as the Nigerian DNA.”

Dahiru’s reaction: “It is wrong. I was there. At least four Nigerians were there on behalf of the Nigerian government. I attended the event under a different funding platform other than government.”

A source close to government disclosed, “A memo seeking funding for the trip for six officials including the legal officer was turned down on the grounds of lack of funds. It does not look good. We have commenced preparations for Durban; where will the money come from? Already, government has set up a committee on Durban and one of the terms of reference is to look into Nigeria’s preparations at the global forum.”

A Nigerian negotiator at COP 16, Lekan Fadina, said, “I don’t know why Nigeria should have just one negotiator in Bonn. We don’t seem to be very serious. We need to have a focused and participatory approach in such things, or else we will be left behind. It was probably due to shortage of funds.”

Head of the Nigeria Climate Action Network (NigeriaCan), Ewah Eleri, stated, “It is not satisfactory. We hope that we can commence preparations for COP 17 in due course. It is important that we begin early because we are already late. It is important that we have a strong position representing our national interest as well as a diverse negotiating team made up of individuals that are well informed and represent the key sections of our economy.

“The FME should show some seriousness and realise its implication for the economy, and money in the budget should be released early enough to allow for adequate preparations.”

A member of the Third World Network (TWN), Mohammed Jimoh, described the dwindling presence of Nigeria in the global climate scene as embarrassing. The TWN is a civil society group pushing for the protection of third world countries in climate change negotiations.

“Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa that will suffer the impact of climate change the most, yet when it matters most we are nowhere to be found,” Jimoh lamented.

Chairperson of the Africa Climate Project, Kevin Osaromwen, said Nigeria was being left out of vital global climate committees and discussion as a result of the lip service government was paying to climate change.

He said, “The world is a global village, everyone is watching and taking note of what you are doing or failed to do. We cannot expect to be included in these serious thinking committees when at home we have nothing to show in the ongoing global efforts to tackle the challenges of climate change.”

A report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), painted a gloomy picture of climate-related calamities that would befall Nigeria if current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission were not intensified. Among such calamities are sea level rise capable of submerging the whole of the Niger Delta region and Lagos, as well as the outbreak of strange diseases, along with food insecurity.

The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) will be released in 2014.


If you were a Somalian……..Sign the Petition!!!!

26 Jul














You may have seen the pictures of starving people in the Horn of Africa on your TV screens. We are all asking: how can this be happening again? Parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are facing one of the worst droughts for 60 years, and around 11 million people are desperately in need of food, clean water and basic sanitation. But something can be done.You can add your voice to help make a difference.

Despite the urgency of the situation, most world leaders are responding too slowly. Immediate aid is essential. Yet at the same time we must not let them drop the ball on long term solutions as has too often happened in the past.

Please sign our petition:

Dear World Leaders,
Please urgently provide the full funding that the UN has identified as necessary to help people in the Horn of Africa, and please keep your promises to deliver the long term solutions which could prevent crises like this happening again.

Some people look back to previous droughts and question whether things will ever change. But because of the smart aid that is supporting African leadership, progress really is being made. For example, 87% of people in the world today have enough food to eat and lead healthy lives – up from just 76% in 1970.  And in Ethiopia the number of people malnourished has fallen from 71% in 1992 to 46% now.

But we know how to change things even more: we can help stop starvation now – and stop the causes of starvation.  Firstly, we need to make sure funding is provided to pay for urgent help that will prevent people from dying. Secondly, the promises that world leaders made to invest in long term solutions must be kept, so that the people of this region can feed themselves and will not need food aid in the future.

Thanks for helping us to pressure our governments to save millions of lives – today and tomorrow.

Thanks for all you do.

Stuart McWilliam,


Where is my Tomato Jos?

25 Jul

“My tomato Jos eh,I just dey think about you, Omalicha nwa ……..” We grew up hearing the phrase “TOMATO JOS”   in music, movies, jokes etc. It is commonly used by Igbo men to describe  a very beautiful and attractive young woman. If a young lady hasn’t been called the lovey-dovey name “Tomato Jos”, by an “OMATA” or “Working class dude”, I would be surprised.

Nigeria is a big country with different zones known for some particular natural resources. From Oil, to coal, timber, iron, cocoa, groundnut, palm-oil etc. Jos, Plateau State was known for it’s food production. But most popular is the fresh Tomatoes, usually red, large, nutritious, flawless, very beautiful and affordable. It used to look like this.




















Lately, I might not find it funny being described as Tomato Jos, if you mean I look like this.

Our Tomato Jos is no more what it used to be. If you have been to the market lately, you would realize this fact. You find unattractive bowls of tomatoes staring at you. Try pricing them and you would be in for a shocker. It doesn’t mean you wouldn’t find our precious Tomato Jos, but can you afford it?

I was in Jos a few months back. I met some small scale farmers and heard their stories. They told me how their climate has changed, how much their harvest has been affected by the change in weather patterns and how they cannot feed their families. The drop in harvest is enormous. I remember a  particular farmer, who told me he wasn’t farming this season. Reason being his land is very dry, it had not rained and he cannot afford a power generating set to pump water to his farm. So now, he helps builders carry blocks and cement (Labourer) to get paid. He uses the meager wage to buy food for his family (don’t mention school yet).

We all know it, we feel it, we hear it. Our climate has changed and everything is affected. Our livelihood is threatened. Our entire planet is threatened. Biodiversity, food, water, air,all of what nature has given us freely is under threat.

It might not be Tomate Jos, but be truthful, there is a food produce that you have noticed isn’t how it used to be. Shrinking in size, increasing in cost, becoming less tasty and nutritious, just not how you used to know it. Think about it.

Lets leave some Tomato Jos for our children to eat and describe.  Don’t you want a cute guy to call your pretty daughter “Tomato Jos”? I sure do!!!

Be good to the environment.

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.

Eroding homes and Farmland

22 Jul
Drains constructed by Shehu Shagari in 1983. Destroyed by flood few years after.

Drains constructed by Shehu Shagari in 1983. Destroyed by flood few years after.

In the few past decades, no fewer than 35 families in Amucha Community, Njaba in Imo State, Nigeria, have had to move to new homes. Not because they wanted a change, but because huge gullies of up to 120 metres deep and 40 meters wide – formed by heavy rainfall and erosion – have swallowed up homes and farmlands. Desmond Nworji is a lecturer who was born and raised in Amcha. He says his village environment has been turned upside down. “It (erosion) has actually caused a lot of damage to our village,” he laments. “In fact, my father’s house is the first that went into the gully. We bought the place we are presently residing, where we built our house, from the neighbouring kindreds.” Other villagers like Humphrey Njiagwu says there is no way they can make a living now on the degraded land. “We don’t live there because of the erosion. We don’t have land to farm, and we don’t have where to build. The places destroyed are where our children should have lived. We are refugees. This is not our land,” Njiagwu discloses. But it was once a fertile area, he recalls. “Before the Nigerian civil war, we had a big river where we go to catch fish because I am a good fisherman. Then, there was nothing like erosion. Now those rivers that we used to go and catch fish have almost dried up, and you hardly see those fish now. We discovered that there’s now a lot of changes in climate in this our place. Even some of the fruits, the right time they produce are no longer the time .We used to plant on our farms very well, and yield was good. But, all of a sudden, it started getting eroded. You can see how the ones we planted now look scanty and empty. “It has affected agriculture, because many times when you plant the erosion will wash away what you have planted. It has affected agriculture seriously. Things have changed. This isn’t how it used to be two or three months into the beginning of the year. When the harmattan is still had, nothing works except it rains. Farmers have cleared their lands but they are still waiting for the rain. And the sun is extreme.”

Many of those in the community believe the erosion – and change in weather patterns – was brought by the gods as some form of a punishment to community dwellers. Celestine Ndukwu used to work for the local government office. “Traditionally here, people believe that one man ate a python, what we call eke njab. In the entire area, it is a big taboo to eat such a snake. So nature reacted. Njaba, the god of that area, reacted by bringing about that erosion. He brought about a curse by the deity and that curse was erosion, to punish us all,” says Ndukwu. But others insist that the problems are as a result of a combination of natural and man-made factors. Boniface Emenalo, who used to be a leader with the Amucha Development Organisation, emphasises that when colleges tried to develop some areas years ago, some local forest was destroyed. “Those forests control erosion, and as a result there was no break again when the rain falls so that encouraged erosion. So floods from neighbouring villages like Okwudo, Nkume, Eziachi now flow freely down to Amucha,” he states. Speaking in a similar vein, Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu who works with small holder farmers in the state, suggests, “I believe there is a direct connection between the erosion menace and climate change. This is because the intensity of the rainfall has increased. And with the intensity of the rainfall comes a lot of rainfall run off. And because there is a lot of rainfall run-off more than we used to see before, it means that a lot of the soil is being washed away. And that is why we are seeing this erosion menace in several communities.” Dr. Damian Asawalam is a soil scientist at the Michael Opkara University of Agriculture, Umudike. He once worked in Amucha. He agrees that deforestation is a major cause of the erosion. His words: “We have seen in the course of our work that this level of erosion is principally controlled by water. What has happened was that, in the past, we didn’t experience this because there was vegetation cover for a greater part of the area. There is a lot of deforestation taking place. The intensity with which people are cropping their farm increased and these activities removed the cover that is covering the soil. Now annually as rain falls and drops on this, they loosen the soil and with a result that a greater part of the soil are now exposed in many areas.” According to the village chief, Eze Ofoegbu, the government headed by Alhaji Shehu Shagari constructed drains in 1983 but abandoned the project mid-way. The drainage helped a little but the heavy floods broke down most of the ditches and nothing has been done by subsequent governments, he notes, adding that the villagers had tried to stop the erosion themselves. “They threw in bamboo trees, and carried out a clean-up so the water stops flooding our homes, yet it did not stop. When the flooding and the erosion increased, we planted an avalanche of trees, Indian bamboos and even cashew trees as well as oil bean trees were planted within the areas to help control the erosion.”

Mama lost her farm. She still lives a few meters from a deep gully.

Mama lost her farm. She still lives a few meters from a deep gully.

As a way out, Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu suggests that communities should adopt new farming techniques to adapt to the changes and ensure their livelihood is secure. “One of the ways that small farmers and rural communities can use in controlling erosion is terrace farming. It is a form of agriculture whereby farmers can cultivate agricultural beds on sloppy areas. Farmers can make a bed of three to four feet in width and 10 to 30 feet in length. They can now start cultivating vegetables on this bed. The second one is the cultivation of veteva grass. Veteva grass is a fast-growing grass like the elephant grass. It does a simple thing: it stabilises the soil. So when the rainfall run-off tries to wash off the top soil and makes it bare, the veteva grass holds the soil and helps in stabilising it. The third one is the construction of simple waterways in sloppy areas and channeling it into an underground tank. This is called rain water harvesting. So the level of rainfall run off during the season, we can save the water and use it to dry season vegetable cultivation. These are the three ways farmers can use to control soil erosion at the first instance while they lobby for government attention to build bigger water channels.” These new farming methods may well prove a lifeline – as, there are people like Mary Nworji a mother of five, who has no choice but to stay in the land most affected by the erosion. She says the erosion took most of her farm land yet she stays in the house very close to a gully and almost getting swallowed up because she could afford a buy land and a build a new house. “Before the erosion came, this used to our road, when everyone lived here. When it now started, others moved upland, we are among the few left. We cannot afford a land to build and move. We still live here. Lots of times, the flood entered our home, carried away our properties and destroyed things. I don’t have an alternative,” she discloses, close to tears. The ecological challenges notwithstanding, the villagers are still very much into farming and every new home comes with drainage to create a path for the heavy floods. Ironically, they also have to cut trees to clear new areas to build when they relocate. The villagers expressed their fears further. “Of course, I am afraid. If it gets closer, we relocate. If not, I will be grateful to God. This much is enough. If we have the wherewithal, if we have an alternative to leave this environment completely, it is better. We need government presence to stem it, to eradicate it completely. As it is now, government does not show presence again. So, I am not comfortable in this place at all. There is nothing I can do. But if I have a choice, all of us can move out of this place,” one of them prayed. We hope that the Lord God, as well as the government, answers the Amucha Community dwellers’ prayers.

Please listen to the feature here: