Monday, July 22, 2013

"Flag it": training course on Digital tools for environmental reporting

FYI: The European Youth Press has delivered the second call for participants to the "Flag it: training course on Digital tools for environmental reporting". The course will be held in Bucharest (Romania) from the 7th to the 13th of October 2013 and will involve 12 young reporters from the Philippines, Brazil, Nigeria, Latvia, Romania and countries where the EYP member organizations are based ( The participants: flight tickets, board, lodging and insurance will be provided by the European Youth Press for the entire duration of the event. The project is funded by the European Commission and involves partner organizations from five continents. You find the call at the following link: Visit the project website for more information on the initiative:

Source: Listserve

The Impact Of HIV And AIDS On Children In Nigeria

By Faith Lannap:

Human Immuno-deficiency Virus/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is reversing many of the hard-won development gains in many sub – Saharan countries including Nigeria and leaving populations more vulnerable to poverty, malnutrition, ill health, and mortality, especially infant mortality. The adverse effects of the AIDS epidemic are felt most severely in some of the world’s poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where one of its consequences has been an upsurge in the number of children orphaned as a result of death of both parent due to complication from AID. HIV/AIDS not only orphans children but also makes children more vulnerable in a number of ways.

The epidemic influences child survival both directly through mother-to-child transmission and indirectly through diverting resources and attention away from children to the care and treatment of a sick parent. In several sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria, infant and child mortality rates have already risen substantially and are expected to increase further in the coming years (Ainsworth, Beegle, & Koda, 2005; NDHS, 2008). In addition, HIV/AIDS importantly affects children’s life and the families of children’s caregivers. Children of HIV-positive parents suffer from the trauma of sickness and eventual death of a parent and associated hardships. The burden of caring for a sick parent often falls on children, and many are forced to drop out of school and take on adult roles as a result (NSAA, 2008). Parental HIV-related illness and death often substantially diminish household resources due to treatment costs and job loss, which often affect children’s health care, education and nutritional status.

Information obtained from the Anti-Natal Care surveys shows that nationally, there is a significant reduction in the HIV prevalence from 5.8% in 2001 to 4.1% in 2010 and the fact that incidence (determined from the HIV prevalence of the 15-24 age group) also decreased over time from 6% in 2001 to 4.1% in 2010, strongly suggests that the decline observed in the national HIV prevalence is real (ANC, 2010). However, HIV continues to weigh heavily on maternal and child mortality in countries like Nigeria, with the highest figure of new HIV infection among children (60,000 new cases) in 2012 and an estimate of 17.5 million orphans and vulnerable children in the country out of which 7.3 million were orphaned by various causes and 2.23 million were orphaned by HIV/AIDS and about 260,000 children living with HIV/AIDS (ANC, 2010; NSAA, 2008; UNAIDS, 2013).

In Nigeria 10.7% of the 69 million children are vulnerable (UNICEF, 2007) 10% of children are orphaned (7% in North-west to 17% in South-East), 10% in rural, 11% in urban. Benue state has the highest prevalence of orphans (25%), followed by Akwa Ibom (22%); while Niger state has the lowest (2.7%). Benue state has the highest prevalence of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) aged 6-17yrs (49%), followed by Imo (45%), and Rivers (41%); with Kwara having the lowest (9%) (NSAA, 2008). One of the important challenges in countries like Nigeria that have increased number of children infected or affected with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, is the need to assist families and communities to care for these children (Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), 2008). 

The situation of OVC in Nigeria remains highly deplorable as many of them are in abject poverty deprived of even the basic necessities of life: dignified and sustainable access to food and nutrition, acceptable living conditions, psychosocial resources critical to development and health, legal and social protection, educational resources, wages/income, and affordable health care (NASS, 2008).

In Nigeria the response to the orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) crisis has been initially driven by communities as well as CBOs, FBOs & NGOs, which provide the initial safety net to affected children, outside immediate families. The Federal Government of Nigeria has initiated a number of policy frameworks directed at improving the situation of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). These include the passage of the Child Rights Act (2003), which incorporates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the development of a five-year National Action Plan on Orphans and Vulnerable Children (FMWA&SD, 2006).

Non-Governmental Organizations and Donor Agencies such as the Global Fund, USAID, CDC etc have made significant contributions to the responses on the OVC burden in Nigeria. Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) an indigenous non-profit organisation is a Principal Recipient under the Global Fund grant to Nigeria since 2007 responsible for the OVC Component of the grant. Some of the key achievements made by ARFH on the OVC component include:

Supporting efforts by the governments to protect the most vulnerable children through improved policies and enhanced technical capacity in the response to OVC burden in the country, Mobilized and support communities to identify, locate, and protect OVCs and provide both immediate and long-term socioeconomic assistance to vulnerable households and Ensuring OVC access to core services including education, vocational training, prevention, treatment, care, psychosocial support, targeted food and nutrition, protection, birth registration and other resources.

1. The Nigeria government efforts should be geared towards the scale up of Prevention of Mother-to-Child-Transmission to reduce and possibly eliminate new HIV infections among children and ensure that their mothers are kept alive: reducing new HIV infection among women, increased access to antiretroviral medicines for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV and availability of HIV voluntary counselling and testing are key to reducing new HIV infection among children and keeping their mothers alive.

2. Strengthening the social welfare workforce to increase the human resources that serve children and complement the health systems is a key strategy the Nigerian government can use to reduce the burden of OVC in-country..

3. Assembling the relevant available data on OVC in one place, and acknowledging the gaps that still exist in our knowledge, will assist policy makers and program implementers to make evidence-based decisions about how best to direct funding and program activities and maximize positive outcomes for children and their caretakers.

With the increasing burden of OVC in Nigeria, there is need for a systematic national response for vulnerable children especially those made vulnerable by HIV&AIDS, this can be achieve through enhanced systems and structures for inclusive social protection.

About The Author
Faith Lannap is a Public Health and Social Development program specialist with extensive experience in HIV Prevention, Care and Support and Child Protection. Faith Works as a Programme Officer at Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Exciting Leadership Training Opportunity for young people! via @LEAPAfrica

LEAP's Youth Leadership Programme is modeled after international best practices and emerging lessons from Ford Foundation's youth leadership efforts across the globe.

The objectives of the leadership programme are to:

- Support youth through the process of "looking within" to take stock of their current skills, talents and inclinations as well as their dreams and visions for the future.

- Expose youth to the concept of leadership, and offer them some tools and skills for effective leadership.

- Encourage youth to commence change projects in their communities in order to test and apply what they have learnt through the training programmes, as well as to improve the lives of others.

More Details
Programme cost: N25,000
Date: July 22 – July 26, 2013
Venue: LEAP Africa's Office Lekki Lagos (full address stated below)

The programme cost covers programme materials, light refreshment and lunch for five (5) days. Also, participants get a certificate of participation upon programme completion.

Topics Description
Programme topics include:
The Act and Art of Leadership, Developing your Life's Mission and Vision, Goal Setting, the Tower Game, the Trust Walk, Leadership for Change, Building Self Confidence, Creativity, Patriotism/Social Responsibility, Time Management, Networking, Negotiations, Communications and Moral Ethics. LEAP utilizes case studies, games, interactive exercises and multimedia to enhance the life and leadership skills of its youth.

Target Participants
Youth between the ages of 15 and 25 who are passionate about community service and have a strong commitment to developing their leadership skills.

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Ukwori via email or call 234-1-270-6541/2. You could also call by LEAP Africa's office at - 13 Omorinre Johnson Street, Off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


World Assembly of Youth (WAY):  The world consists of a population of over 7 billion. Where, 16 million of this population is girls under the age of 18 who give birth each year, whereas 3.2 opt to undergo unsafe terminations of their pregnancies. This goes on to show just how severe the situation of adolescent pregnancy is worldwide, especially in developing countries where numbers seem to be higher than those of developed countries.

A large population has often been linked with good economic growth, the larger the population, the better the economy. However, quantity does not always win over quality because with the number of young girls giving birth, quantity is now a cause of concern. Reasons for adolescent pregnancies may vary from child marriages, rape, and lack of education on safe sex to sexual coercion. Many of these young people are introduced to sexual intercourse at an age where they are oblivious to what they are doing and do not know how to protect themselves, not only from pregnancy but sexual transmitted diseases as well.

In accordance with World Population Day themed "Halt to Unsafe Adolescent Pregnancy", the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) has taken up various measures to address this issue and other related issues. The safety of these young girls is our first priority. Regardless of the situation these young people are in, we believe that if they get enough education about sexual intercourse and reproductive health, a lot of them will be saved from adolescent pregnancies. This education should not end with just the children, parents as caretakers must learn the dangers their children may encounter if they fall pregnant at such a young age, that way they will be able to protect them against child marriages and other social ills that may contribute to adolescent pregnancies. We whole heartedly are against the violations of girls and young women rights which are great contributors to various cruel treatments against women.

We have taken a step further by addressing the issue of adolescent pregnancy under goal 4; Gender Equality and Women Empowerment and goal 9; Improving Maternal Health in our Millennium Plan of Action 3 (MPAC 3). In line with that, we have conducted several programs and produced various publications to raise awareness to all stakeholders towards minimizing the risk of unsafe motherhood. For instance, we published a press release to commemorate the International Women's Day that was themed 'Call to End Gender Based Violence', as gender based violence is one of the key factors of adolescent pregnancies.

WAY has also conducted several international events like the annual Melaka International Youth Dialogue (MIYD) to bring awareness to the youth about their rights as citizens of the universe. Our 12 th MIYD 'Health, It is My Right!' aimed at maximizing the equal access of public services, health-care to be precise. One of our aims was to raise awareness on the current situation of youth health with anticipated behavior adaptation and consequently admission to decision making among the youth.

We reiterate our support towards education to young women and girls as the major preventive tool of the issues related to unsafe adolescent-pregnancy.

Happy World Population Day and let us protect our children and young women from early unprotected sexual activities and say NO to unsafe adolescent pregnancies.


WAY Secretariat

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Ministries of health in Africa are ministries of diseases, says Dr Specioza Kazibwe, Former Vice President of Uganda

Dr Specioza Kazibwe, an Ugandan Surgeon and politician, recently described ministries of health in Africa as ministries of diseases. She made this statement during the #GlobalPower Women Network Africa High Level Meeting that took place in Abuja, Nigeria, last week.

The UNAIDS supported event, which was themed, "Accelerating the implementation of the global and regional commitments for Women and Girls, Gender Equality and HIV/AIDS in Africa; and the adoption of post-2015 priorities," had in attendance Presidents, Ministers, female leaders, policy makers, advocates and other stakeholders in the civil society and business sector.

In accelerating strategies on how to improve women and girls' health, we need to better engage better engage policy markers and address the condition of health system in Africa, Mrs Kazibwe said. In her opinion, there are no health systems in Africa.

"We have ministries of health but they are not ministries of health. They are ministries of diseases. What they are doing is (to talk to the issues of) building hospitals and clinics, almost beckoning our people to fall sick. We should be talking about health and health is made in the home.  That is where we should go for personal emancipation, economic emancipation, physical emancipation so that we are able to address the issue of promotion and prevention…"

Dr Kazibwe said promotion and prevention does not need money. She highlighted her experience in fostering health issues in Uganda. She also noted that leaders' unwillingness to build on foundation of initiatives limits continuity and sustainability of intervention programmes.

To ensure the implementation of strategies to improve the lives of women and girls, Kazibwe says policy makers and stakeholders should move things forward by addressing the issues of identity, policy, use of technology and next level of engagement.

On Identity, Dr Kazibwe says it is important for African women to know who they are. It is very important to have a clear sense of self-awareness and appreciation for the African culture to be able to move things forward. Know who you are, she says.

And she practised what she preached when she spent the first couple of minutes of her presentation talking about herself- her identity.

Dr Kazibwe served as vice president of Uganda between 1994 and 2003. She is the first woman in Africa to be appointed at an executive position of vice president. She has been in politics for the past 26 years serving at both local and national level- 3 times vice president of Uganda.

Looking at the issue of policies, Dr Kazibwe buttressed the need for women leaders and CSOs to do more research that can influence policy makers.  She commended Mrs. Hana Oye Lithur, the Minister of Gender, Ghana, for sharing a well researched presentation she made earlier.

On political empowerment, the surgeon cum politician says political empowerment or women participant in politics is not about numbers of women in cabinet or the numbers of women in parliament.

"I can attest to that because I have been there for many years," she said.

Kazibwe said from her experience, some women in politics are reluctant to be associated with issues that concern women and girls. "Among those many women, there are those that think they are too good to be associated with the women's cause," she said.

Dr Kazibwe is optimistic that things can change. She suggested that those women who "ostracize" themselves from women issues should be engaged and synthesized because many of them have never been to women's forum before. When they begin to understand these issues firsthand, they'll be willing to get involved.

The politician did not miss out in reminding everyone on the importance of embracing technology to foster positive change.

"We are in a world where technology is doing a lot…sometimes when we speak, we forget that world has changed… we should use technology more…" She also advocated for more women to use the technology that has been proven to be of benefit to all.

The former Uganda Vice President wrapped up her presentation with a call for more action, echoing the words of Joyce Bada, the President of Malawi.

The next level of engagement is at the community level. We have talked enough, Dr Kazibwe said.

Watch the Video:

Also published by

The Reporter
Jennifer Ehidiamen is a 2013 IRP New Media Fellow for International Reporting Project (IRP). She is reporting on issues of global health and development in Nigeria. More info:

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Empowering Women is Key to Ending Poverty in our Society

The National Bureau of Statistics in 2010 revealed that 60.9% of Nigerians were living in "absolute poverty" - this figure had risen from 54.7% in 2004. The bureau further predicted a continued rise in the trend.

One of the most successful strategies that have been applied over the years to alleviate poverty and curb unemployment worldwide is skill acquisition. A lot of women have become productive, better mothers, and supportive wives as a result of learning skills such as tailoring, bead making, catering, etc. Girls have gotten off the streets, and even young men have been empowered through skill acquisition.

The Rubies School of Women Empowerment, an initiative of Pink Pearl Foundation was created to further empower women and help them become productive members of the society. "Absolute poverty is measured by the number of people who can afford only the bare essentials of shelter, food and clothing. It is a known fact that the bulk of those who are affected by poverty in our society are women" says the founder of Pink Pearl, Mrs Orode Ryan Okpu.

Through skill acquisition programs, the Rubies School of Women Empowerment is helping to reduce poverty and unemployment in our society.  The first session of the Rubies school of women empowerment trained 105 women in different skills such as industrial production of soaps, body care products, tailoring, bead making, wire works, catering, and a general business management course. The women were allowed to choose the skill they wanted to learn, and professionals who have distinguished careers in the various skills facilitated the training and tested the women; equipping them with the requisite skill for starting their own businesses.

An exhibition by its first set of trainees will be held at the Cenotaph, Asaba, Delta State on 4th and 5th July 2013. The graduation ceremony will hold on the 6th of July, 2013. The exhibitions will witness the women showcase the various craft they learnt. As the first set of students of the school graduate, they are all going to be given support to enable them launch their own businesses.

Day 2: Accelerating Commitment and Action to Tackle Issues that Affect Women and Girls in Africa #GlobalPower

The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, while giving her remark during the first day of the #GlobalPower Women Network had recommended that women every where take up the responsibility of ensuring the achievement of goals set to accelerate actions on issues affecting women and girls.

Gender Inequality as driver of HIV 
The second day of the High Level Meeting was spent in plenary sessions focusing on different topics that project the interwoven issues around the theme.

Mrs Litha Muyimi-Oganda, Director Gender in African Union made a presentation on “Gender Inequality as a driver of HIV.” Honorable Xindiww Dlamini, the minister of Housing and Urban Development, Swaziland, while speaking on Sexual and Gender-based violence highlighted the trend of inter-generational sexual relationship, where young girls engage in sexual relationship with older men for material gain. This culture as well as early exposure to sex, eroding family values and the rest of them, is driving the spread of HIV and AIDS, she said. But she is optimistic that continuing focus on empowering girls and deepening the importance of family values can reverse the trend.

When girls are given economic empowerment, the Swaziland minister says, they would not need to use intergenerational sexual exploits as a means of escaping poverty.

Sexual and Gender-based violence
The topic, violence in conflict and post conflict situations, brought to light the reality of war and the impact it has on women and girls. It is more dangerous to be a woman in a war torn zone than to be a soldier, says Mrs Zainab Hawa Bangura, the UNSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict. No doubt, sexual violence against women and girls undermine the development of any society. A generation of women and girls that are abused and trampled upon will definitely find it difficult to maximize their potential. As a result, the society misses out of benefiting from their contributions and innovations.

In a feedback, Mrs Angele Dikongue-Atongana, UNHCR Nigeria revealed to the attentive audience that nearly half of refugees in Africa are women and girls, One-fourth of refugees and one-third of internally displaced persons are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. The risk of sexual violence is drastically increased in conflict and displacement settings. She recommended that life-saving interventions should be increased with priority on humanitarian emergency. She also advocated for increased in allocation of resources. She gave a call to action- that Security Council resolution recognizes persons fleeing from sexual violence as eligible for refugee status. What do you think about that?

Socio-economic empowerment of women and girls
Beyond what the society can do for women and girls, what are women doing for themselves?

Prof Edna Matthews-Njoku, Director Women Development and Gender Studies, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, in her presentation buttressed the need for women to offer help to other young women through counselling, mentorship, and other intervention. She said most girls who are capable do not have an enabling environment.

Mrs Njoku said most evil actions against women are perpetrated by other women. She gave examples of different social stigmatization of women done by other women. The first that comes to my mind at this point is PHD syndrome- women who Pull Her Down. That means, women who out of envy, jealousy or simply lack of faith in other women do all they can to pull them down. We can’t accelerate change if we remain this way.

Meanwhile, to accelerate the changes we seek, we must work with women at the grassroots. In as much as we advocate for women-friendly government legislations, Mrs Njoku urge women to take action to the grassroots and champion practical solutions to the problems we face. But first, we must be empowered with the right information- an informed woman is an empowered woman, she says.

The onus lies on us to support each other to be the change we want to see in our world.

Political empowerment of women and girls

Dame Virginia Etiaba gave a narrative of her involvement in Nigeria politics while serving as then Anambra state governor. It is possible for women to take on leadership position and thrive but first they need to be empowered and given the space to practice such leadership.

Empower our women politically, says Etiaba, Nigeria’s first female governor. If we won’t get to leadership position, then what are we here for?

The sessions continued with presentation of country case studies on game changing approaches to addressing Gender-Based violence, communiqué drafting, award presentation and a closing ceremony dinner where the new President of GPWNA, Professor Viola Onwuliri, Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs was appointed, taking over from Thokozani Khube, the Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

Photo Speaks

Opeyemi, Gabriel, Grace & I at the HLM Day 2

Dame Virginia Etiaba, former governor of Anambra state & Nigeria's first female governor

Ethiopia's first lady and Dr. Ndidi Oparaoji co-chairing the session

Hon Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Ghana

Rev Sr Angela Abhulimen, SSH and Lady Christie Uche, President, FFVHOE

what are women doing to support themselves? He asked

Dr Specioza Kazibwe, Former Vice President of Uganda
Hon Xindiwe Dlamini, Minister of Housing and Urban Dev. Swaziland, sharing her views with me on intergenerational sexual relationship and what is being done to curb the trend

Professor Viola Onwuliri, Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs appointed, taking over from Thokozani Khube, the Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. 

Some youths making positive change

Will Nigerians Read Books On Mobile Phones?

The reading culture of Nigerians has been on a steady decline for some time now. The decline can be attributed to many factors from a tough economy to a general lack of reading interest in the younger generation. Some have even gone as far as blaming the poor reading culture on mobile devices.

Now there is a new app called okadabooks that is putting Nigerian books on mobile phones in a bid to get people to read on phones. The app has a diverse collection of books from Nigerian authors and even past WAEC/JAMB questions with answers.

This all sounds like a good idea, but the question is will Nigerians actually read and buy books on their phone and will students actually study with their phones. Check out the app at and let us know what you think about it and the Nigerian reading culture in general.