Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Who Dumps A Baby In The Gutter? #AYP #SRHR #GrowingUp

This morning, still so angry about the current situation in Nigeria [e.g. why there is low response to #BringBackOurGirls], I saw a crowd gathering around a heap by the gutter in Fadeyi area of Lagos.

My curious-self crossed to the other side and was about to ask, "wetin dey happen" when I saw it. A lifeless newborn (baby) wrapped in a blanket. One of the cleaners found him/her in the gutter. Lagos-lookers were cursing at the person responsible for dumping the baby. Some said they suspect the person is/lives around the corner. So they raved and cursed.

Why will anybody dump a new born baby in the gutter?

Poverty. Shame. Judgmental stares. Lack of support. Sickness. Poverty of the mind. The list of possible reasons might not occupy this space. Yes. There are many reasons why that can happen. But does it justify the action?

Young people are sexually active. It is no longer news. But what is disturbing is that people are still not embracing the many opportunities to empower themselves and reduce their exposure to unwanted pregnancy or improve their ability to make informed decisions about their lives. By this I do not mean a mass rally aimed at distributing contraceptives and its likes on the street. I mean access to comprehensive and empowering information. Access to youth friendly resource centers and clinics across Nigeria. Where one can actually get first-hand information on how to be more and do more, positively.

In a presentation on HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health Vulnerabilities of Adolescents and Young people in Nigeria, Dr Otibho Obianwu of Population Council Nigeria said that although there is improvement in health seeking behavior among adolescents and young people, the overall level is still low when compared to their exposure to risk-bearing sexual activities. During the Media-Research Advocacy Exchange Platform in Lagos, it was revealed that limited access to sexual and reproductive health information, societal stigma surrounding pre-marital adolescent sex, negative attitude of health providers, fear of parental retribution etc. are factor affecting health seeking behavior of adolescents and young people in Nigeria. Don’t forget, this age group make up about 31.6% of Nigeria’s population, numbering over 55million! In Dr Obianwu’s words— adolescents and young people are “direct link between society’s future (children) and past (older adults)".

The purpose of this text is not to reel-out statistics of any kind. But I hope one real life report like this is enough to spur girls, boys, parents, teachers, NGOs, activists, religious leaders, government, corporate Nigeria and all stakeholders into action, to protect (empower) young people, to protect our future.

One might ask, how are you sure it is a young person that dumped the baby in the gutter? Does it matter who did? A baby has been lost. A generation wiped out. But can we prevent future occurrences and protect the future?

It is our responsibility.

NOTE to young people: don't cut yourself from empowering opportunities. Visit a Youth Resource Centre and Youth Friendly Clinic today to know what's up and/or get help!

In Lagos?
Checkout the youth resource center and youth friendly clinic at Action Health Incorporated
17 Lawal street, Jibowu Lagos.

Growing Up:

Be empowered!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Youths Around The World See Meagre Opportunities

“The youth bulge can become a security, economic and humanitarian worry, and even maybe a disaster, or it can become a resource for development and change.” — William Reese.

WASHINGTON, (IPS) - Although half the world’s population is under 25 years old, young people in more than two dozen countries feel that their opportunities for educational, economic and societal advancement are limited, according to new research released by IPS on Thursday.

Researchers say the results should help to drive and prioritise both public and private investment in services.

In order to assess the many factors that contribute to healthy lifestyles for youth, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the latter a think tank, put together the Global Youth Wellbeing Index.

The index aggregates data from 30 countries, representing around 70 percent of the world’s youth population, and rates the wellbeing of youths in each country on a scale from zero to one.

“This is certainly … one of the biggest issues we’re dealing with in the world today,” Christopher Nassetta, the CEO of Hilton Worldwide, the index’s principle funder, said at the index’s launch.

“It hasn’t been an issue that really has been discussed around the world the way that, in my mind, it should be, in the sense of really getting governments, civil society and business … to really think about the issues.”

Nassetta says each of these sectors now needs to figure out not only how to attack the problems that can be associated with youth wellbeing, but also the “opportunity”.

Approximately 85 percent of youths under the age of 25 live in developing countries, in some countries comprising almost 40 percent of the total population.

Development advocates and economists suggest such numbers highlight the importance of providing such a large segment of the population with the resources necessary to drive economic growth while maintaining adequate health, security and stability.

“The youth bulge can become a security, economic and humanitarian worry, and even maybe a disaster, or it can become a resource for development and change,” said William Reese, IYF’s president.

IYF and CSIS hope that governments, civil society and businesses will use the index’s findings to better evaluate and calibrate programmes designed to buildyouth capacity.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Nassetta. “There’s been a massive lack of transparency and data with which to make good investments, whether that’s human capital or financial capital, so the wellbeing index is the start of that.”

For instance, IYF’s Reese noted that developing countries’ heavy investment in certain sectors, like education, have yet to yield desirable results.

“[The] domains can tell us where to invest intelligently,” Reese said. “That can be the host government, but even in some of the poorest countries in the world, their largest expenditure is in education, it’s just not being well spent.”

Reese emphasised that the index is not adversarial in nature, but rather designed for countries to compare and contrast their relative strengths and weakness, and to learn from each other.

“The index will help us compare and frame some needs and look at countries as to where they’re doing better and where they have some gaps,” he said. “Then we can compare across countries – not to name and shame at all, but to look further so we invest better.”

In addition to emphasising the need for more data-driven policies, programmes and investments, many at Thursday’s unveiling of the index highlighted a key component necessary to drive those changes: youths themselves.

“If you’re talking about a post-2015 development agenda, one thing missing from that, based on a youth perspective, is the idea of what the ‘youthproblem’ is,” said Angga Dwi Martha, the 23-year-old Youth Advocate at the United Nations Population Fund.

“I think this index can give a very general identification of the problem. And then, as young people, we can [relay] this to our government, the private sector and civil society.”

Others argued that the best way to figure out “what works” to improve youth wellbeing is by actively including and engaging youths in the development process.

According to Emmanuel Jimenez, the World Bank’s director of public-sector evaluations, “We, as older people who design policy, often forget, or don’t do enough, to consult with the ultimate beneficiaries, which are young people.”


Just Musing: Is Nigeria too strong? Are Nigerians too resilient?

Eze's poem:

"I Fear for my country

That we've learnt to be strong (too strong)

To feel and just to move on

Too resilient to cry, to arise and make amends

I fear for my people

We've grown too strong to fight our demons."

Excerpts from 'dearth of a country' by Emelogu Danladi Eze