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Nigeria in Serious Crisis – UN Report

DATAVILLE RESEARCH – A report just released by the United Nations, UN, on Nigeria’s Common Country Analysis, CCA, has revealed a deeply divided society on the basis of the plurality of ethnic, religious and regional identities that had tended to define the country’s political existence.

The report also painted a gloomy picture, with most of the development and social indices in the country registering at levels unacceptable.

The report, which was read during a consultative meeting on the formulation of the UN Development Assistance Framework IV (UNDAF IV) for the South East geo-political zone in Awka observed that for decades, different segments of Nigeria’s population had, at different times, expressed feelings of marginalization, of being short –changed, dominated, oppressed, threatened, or even targeted for elimination.

The report read in part: “Nigeria, with a population of over 175 million, is the most populous nation in Africa and the seventh most populous in the world. Her population will be approximately 200 million by 2019 and over 400 million by 2050, becoming one of the top five populous countries in the world.

“Nigeria is one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world, with over 80 million or 64% of her population living below poverty line. The situation has not changed over the decades, but is increasing. Poverty and hunger have remained high in rural areas, remote communities and among female –headed households and these cut across the six geo-political zones, with prevalence ranging from approximately 46.9 percent in the South West to 74.3 percent in North West and North East.

“In Nigeria, 37% of children under five years old were stunted, 18 percent wasted, 29% underweight and overall, only 10% of children aged 6-23 months are fed appropriately based on recommended infant and young children feeding practices.

“Youth unemployment which is 42% in 2016 is very high, creating poverty, helplessness, despair and easy target for crime and terrorism. Over 10 million children of school age are out of schools with no knowledge and skills.

“Nigeria’s economy is currently in a recession and it is estimated that government revenues have fallen by as much as 33 percent, which has further resulted in the contraction of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, by 0.36 percent in the first three months of 2016.

“The vulnerable macroeconomic environment in Nigeria is affecting investors’ confidence in the domestic economy.” When contacted last night to react to the report, federal government officials said they where not aware of it and couldn’t, therefore, react.

“Despite the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to a number of protocols on sustainable and renewable environment, the country had, over the decades, failed to protect the environment, ecosystem and natural resources. Over-exploitation of natural resources and pollution of the environment, desertification are exposing the population to vulnerability and risks caused by climate change, among others.

“Nigeria is well-endowed with forest resources, accounting for 2.5% of GDP. But Nigeria has one of the highest rates of forest loss in the world. Between 1990 and 2000, Nigeria lost an average of 409,700 hectares of forest per year on average deforestation rate of 3.5% per annum.

“Increase in population, human activities like farming, construction and cutting of trees, use of wood and effect of climate change lead to environmental destruction across Nigeria.”

This in turn leads to unpredictable weather, drought and floods. The implication of destruction of the environment includes reduced agricultural productivity, destruction of property and loss of lives.

“Nigeria faces humanitarian and emergency crises of considerable proportions fueled by a combination of factors including climate change, inter-communal conflicts and violence, insurgency, recurring floods, heavy handed tactics of security forces in combating crime and insurgency. The overall consequence is the situation of systematic and chronic internal displacement that has given rise to different humanitarian crises that include the most egregious and dehumanizing human rights abuses.

“Over 80 million Nigerians live in poverty and are affected in one way or the other by the current humanitarian crisis. Available reports indicate that there are over 3.3 million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, which is Africa’s largest, ranking behind Syria and Columbia on a global scale.

“The major challenges Nigeria is currently facing that constrain her economic growth and social development are lack of good governance, general increased insecurity across geo-political zones in North East, Niger Delta and Lake Chad region in particular. The situation is exacerbated by the existence of systematic accountability challenges, limited capacities of independent institutions/ commissions and limited accountability at the federal, states and local government levels.

“Nigeria is a deeply divided society considering the plurality of ethnic, religious and regional identities that define her political existence. Since independence in 1960, Nigeria has struggled to build and sustain national integration. For decades, different segments of Nigeria’s population had, at different times, expressed feelings of marginalization, of being short-changed, dominated, oppressed, threatened, or even targeted for elimination.”

The report recommended that transforming and diversifying Nigeria’s development paths needed a radical and new approach, especially by investing in people and in a strong more dynamic and inclusive productive informal sector. It also called for a design and support of joint programmes to address good governance, peace and security.

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Restoring Livelihoods for Displaced Nigerians

Food vouchers and new skills help counter effects of crisis

August 2016—In northeastern Nigeria, more than 2 million people are internally displaced. Most have fled violence caused by the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency as well as military efforts to dislodge the group.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are among the world’s most vulnerable people. Not only have they lost their homes and, possibly, their loved ones, but they often face food insecurity and a loss of livelihood. To address these challenges, USAID is supporting emergency assistance to IDPs, host communities and Nigerian refugees in neighboring countries—Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

USAID support has brightened the future of IDPs like Esther Sylvanus and her four children. One year ago, Boko Haram killed Sylvanus’s husband in their hometown of Damaturu in Yobe state. Fearing for her children’s lives and her own life, Sylvanus fled to Gombe state, which hosts more than 27,000 IDPs.

Sylvanus soon realized she had no way to support her family. Her children were forced to drop out of school and they struggled to eat two meals a day.

A USAID emergency food assistance program provided Sylvanus’s family with electronic vouchers that are redeemable in local markets for nutritious foods. The vouchers promote the dignity of beneficiaries by allowing them to purchase local foods of their choice while supporting local businesses. Sylvanus also received vouchers for essential household items.

“The voucher thing was all new to me, but I was happy because I bought what I needed for my family, which included mattresses, mats, buckets, children wear [clothes], detergent and toiletries for my household,” explained Sylvanus.

With USAID support, Sylvanus was also able to save enough money to start a business. She began raising catfish to sell and went on to participate in a livelihoods-building program that enabled her to buy a sewing machine and start a second business.

Now, with the success of both the small fishery and sewing business, all four of her children are enrolled in school again. Sylvanus can afford medical costs when needed and is continuing to expand her businesses. Her participation in the USAID-supported programs helped Sylvanus not only to meet the urgent needs of her family, but also to learn new skills that will benefit her and her children in the future.

“I now feel like I have recovered completely because I can provide for my family adequately,” said Sylvanus.

To date in FY 2016, USAID has provided more than $64 million in humanitarian assistance throughout the Lake Chad Basin region and $34 million in northeastern Nigeria alone. This assistance is helping IDPs, host communities and refugees to meet their most urgent needs while helping them to restore their livelihoods, building resilience to the ongoing Boko Haram crisis.

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Donates $1m to Boko Haram Victims

Nigeria’s Borno State has confirmed receipt of a cash donation of $1 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The funds are meant to support victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north eastern state.

The state governor, Kashim Shettima made the disclosure over the weekend while distributing food items and farm inputs to victims of the insurgency.

“We are gathered here today to commence distribution of a key intervention of one million U.S. dollars food and farming aid donated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,’’ Shettima is quoted by local media to have said.

“We are grateful to God for creating people like Mr Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. These leading lights of philanthropy across the world have shown love to the good people of Borno”

According to him, about 40,000 households were targeted to benefit from the ongoing humanitarian relief efforts. Each household were to get a bag of rice and beans each.

He further disclosed that some 200 farm-families were also going to be handed land with incentives like improved seeds, fertilizer, chemicals and technical supervision to grow food crops.

“We are grateful to God for creating people like Mr Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. These leading lights of philanthropy across the world have shown love to the good people of Borno at a time we are on the ground and looking for any hand to hold in trying to lift ourselves up,’‘ he said.

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Inclusive Education in Nigeria

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This study investigated the attitudes toward inclusive education held by 2000 special educators across Nigeria. Participants were administered a modified version of the Attitudes toward Inclusion in Africa Scale (ATIAS). The scale was divided into four factors, namely, Behaviour Issues, Student Needs, Resource Issues and Professional Competency. The mean score of each of the ATIAS was compared by categories of eight descriptive variables.

Female respondents indicated more confidence in their professional competency to teach special needs children than male respondents.

Younger respondents and those with prior training in inclusion were more likely than their counterparts to believe that adequate resources were available to assist teachers to implement inclusion.

Advanced formal education was associated with a greater tolerance for negative behaviours (that are sometimes connected with special needs students) and with a more positive attitude toward special supports for students with sensory disabilities.

Special educators employed in Northern states were more likely than their southern counterparts to believe that students with behavioural issues should attend their neighbourhood schools.

Participants expressed their concerns that schools lack trained special education personnel, specialized materials and friendly infrastructure. Recommendations were made for the successful practice of inclusion in Nigeria.

Field survey headed by Chinedu Anaele
Director
Dataville Research LLC

Click here to request full policy brief

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Supporting Mothers to Breastfeed Will Improve Children’s Chances of Survival

On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week (1 to 7 August), UNICEF, along with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is recommending the provision of increased professional and informal support for breastfeeding mothers.

“Breastfeeding is a key tool in improving child survival said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life can avert up to 13 per cent of under-five deaths in developing countries.”

Although there has been progress over the past 15 years, only 38 per cent of infants under 6 months of age in the developing world are exclusively breastfed. In Nigeria the figure is even lower, rather than increase the gains previously made in exclusive breastfeeding are being eroded. In 1999, 22% of children were exclusively breastfed. This figure came down to 17% in 2003, today only 11.7% of children are exclusively breastfed for six months in Nigeria.

Recent scientific studies have found that education and support for mothers significantly extends the number of months that mothers breastfeed, and is especially helpful in promoting exclusive breastfeeding. Other studies have shown that counseling and support in health facilities have led to increases in the number of mothers who initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth.

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life reduces infant mortality linked to common childhood illnesses and under nutrition.

Breastfeeding can reduce the number of deaths caused by acute respiratory infection and diarrhea – two major child killers – as well as from other infectious diseases. It also contributes to the health of mothers, and creates a bond between the mother and child.

Appropriate infant feeding can save lives, ensure optimal growth and development, and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

UNICEF is working with its partners and Governments in many countries to ensure the provision of increased support for breastfeeding mothers, including by health workers, counselors, mother-to-mother support groups, employers, relief workers in emergencies, legislators, the family and community social networks. In Nigeria, we support advocacy and communication to change behaviour to foster the culture of exclusive breastfeeding.

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Africa: Leaving No Child in Africa Behind – Financing Public Investments in Children in the Post-MDGs Era

analysis By Bob Libert Muchabaiwa

What is required now, more than ever before, is action. The financing architectures of many African countries need overhauling. They need to engender equity, child rights, transparency and accountability. Unless that is don, the many regional and international commitments that touch on children will remain mere political pronouncements.

Beco (not her real name) is a 15-year-old girl. She is still in her first year in secondary school, despite her advanced age compared to her classmates. At the age of 10 she was forced to dropout from school because her single mother died of birth complications in a rural village in Zimbabwe. Courtesy of one Good Samaritan in her village, Beco is now back in school. The lack of books, teachers and other educational materials in her rural school does not seem to discourage her from attending class every day. Her dream is to finish school, train as a doctor and help her family.

Many children in Africa are like Beco. They are, at some point in time, forced to drop out of school. Moreover, hundreds of thousands are sadly still out of school due to conflict, lack of fees and other factors. Primary school net enrolment in sub-Saharan Africa stands at 78%.[1] Unfortunately, nobody seems to be wondering about what is happening to the 22%, which literally means a lot of children are out school. Many children also live without appropriate parental care. Across Africa, there are millions of children like Beco going to very poorly built schools, with no electricity, poor water and sanitation facilities, no proper library services and often without trained and experienced teachers.

Consequently, millions of children on the continent are being left behind.

Unicef estimates that over 2 million children in Africa die every year mainly because of preventable causes including diseases, malnutrition and hunger. The organization further estimates that 37% of all children in sub-Saharan Africa are stunted.[2] As if that is not enough, both at home and in school, many children in Africa are continuously exposed to several forms of violence. For instance, girls like Beco are forced to walk long distances to access education, fetch water and buy groceries for their families, making them twice as vulnerable to sexual abuse as their urban counterparts.

Insufficient, ineffective and inequitable public spending on child-focused sectors and programmes stands as the biggest barrier to enjoyment of rights by all children.[3] To date, only 7 countries in Africa have at some point in time met the Abuja target for African governments to allocate at least 15% of their budgets to health. Furthermore, no African country has so far met the Dakar Commitment on Education for All to allocate at least 7% of its GDP to education, which should have increased to 9% in 2010. In 2014, with the exception of Malawi, Niger and South Africa, who have come close by spending between 5.5-7%, the rest of African states are spending below 5% of their GDP on education, well below the Dakar Commitment.

The Sustainable Development Goals, Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on Financing for Development and Agenda 2063 of the African Union are therefore timely and strategic. They constitute lifetime opportunities for African governments to mobilize domestic and international resources to increase and improve the quality of public investments in child protection, health, education, social protection, early childhood care and other child-focused sectors. These international commitments are a call to action, representing bold and renewed efforts to ensure no child in Africa is left behind. In view of these policy commitments, there is no better time than now for African states to consolidate gains made for children over the past decade, by taking bold actions to positively transform how they finance development.

Through Agenda 2063 – the African Union’s roadmap for economic growth and sustainable development – African governments made a commitment to “put children first” and to “fulfil their obligation to children as an inter-generational compact in order to develop Africa’s human capital; build effective developmental states as well as participatory and accountable institutions of governance.”[5]

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Farmers and Fulani: Dancing Away Their Conflicts!

This article first appeared on thenewsnigeria.com on 06/05/2016.

In Nigeria, farmers and Fulani pastoralists live like two cocks thrown into a pit. The love between them is, apologies to Chinua Achebe, akin to the one between the goat and the cocoyam.

That is why, in different parts of the country, clashes by Fulani herdsmen and farmers have resulted in deaths of hundreds.
However, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Search for Common Ground, on Saturday held cultural performance to promote peace and unity among farmers and herdsmen in Plateau.
Search for Common Ground, according to a NAN report, is currently working in 35 countries of the world to promote peaceful coexistence amongst the people.

The cultural performance was organized in collaboration with the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Jos.
The event, tagged “I Will Follow the Green Grass”, had in attendance traditional leaders, youths, women and other stakeholders in peace building activities.

Speaking at the event, Mr Rajendra Mulmi, the Country Director, Search for Common Ground Nigeria, said the cultural performance was aimed at ending clashes among herdsmen and farmers.
He said that the cross-cultural dance show was organized to express the need for herdsmen and farmers to embrace the peace.
“Peace is the most essential thing everybody needs; it is essential because without it, there will be no meaningful development.”

“So, we decided to adopt the cultural approach so as to show to both the herders and the farmers that they have a lot in common and so the clashes are uncalled for,” he said.
The Plateau Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr Peter Mwankon, commended the efforts of the organizers for the relative peace being enjoyed in the state.
He said government was making frantic efforts to sustain the current peace in the state to enable it attain meaningful growth and development.

He urged other NGOs to emulate the organizers in preaching the gospel of peace to the people at both rural and urban areas.
The highlight of the event was a drama presentation by Fulani and Berom youths and dance presentation by various cultural groups.
Similar event was organized in Kaduna and Nasarawa states.

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USAID to Participate in Girls’ Education Forum

For Immediate Release
Thursday, July 7, 2016
USAID Press Office

Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: USAIDPressOfficers@usaid.gov | Twitter: @USAIDPress
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at the Girls’ Education Forum in London, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a commitment of $25 million through Let Girls Learn to help sustain a teacher apprenticeship program in Afghanistan for adolescent girls, as part of a new partnership with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) Girls Education Challenge (GEC).

Afghanistan suffers from a dearth of qualified female teachers. Adolescent girls in Afghanistan are often only able to receive an education from female teachers, due to persisting cultural norms. USAID’s contribution will help to establish a teacher apprenticeship program for adolescent girls in grades 9-12. The program will enable students to utilize their newly learned skills to move directly into careers as teachers, and educate the next generation of Afghan girls.

“Today, we are reaffirming our commitment to ensure adolescent girls across Afghanistan have access to the knowledge and skills they need to build a better future for themselves and for their country,” said USAID Assistant to the Administrator Larry Sampler.

“Education doesn’t just shape individuals, it shapes countries – but right now too many young girls are deprived of an education simply because of their gender,” said UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening. “That’s why we will work with USAID to help teenage girls in Afghanistan train as teachers. This will both give them the vocational education they need to get a stable job as well as boost the number of female teachers, encouraging more girls to stay in school.”

Let Girls Learn is a U.S. Government initiative that brings together the U.S. Department of State, USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Peace Corps, and is intended to help adolescent girls access a quality education by addressing the range of barriers that often prevent girls from enrolling and staying in school, including lack of schools, gender-based violence, and early marriage.

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