Saturday, 27 June 2009

Overcoming a latent inertia to food security

SIDA course participant and social entrepreneur, Jonathan Eke had come to the sub-technical committee meeting of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, Abuja Nigeria to convince the group on why the ministry should adopt the eco-sanitation technology as a desired sanitation option, but the technology he is promoting appears very strange and exotic to a majority of the audience.

Eke’s product is a dry system that directly uses excreta in agriculture.Otherwise known as ecological sanitation; it is designed to deal with human waste in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. Here, the urine is diverted to a soakaway, leaving only faeces to accumulate in the sealed vault below the toilet.

The operating principal according to Eke, is that the faecal matter remains dry and safe to handle over time. ‘’This toilet uses a double vault system” he said. “ Once the first vault is full, the pedestal is moved to cover the second vault. The opening to the first vault is sealed with a lid. This allows for the faecal matter in the first vault to dry out for at least six months before it is removed, when the second vault is full”.
He continued “Each time the toilet is used the householder throws in a cup of sand or ash to cover the faeces. This helps in the drying process and reduces smells. The dried faecal matter can be safely removed by the householder at no cost. This faecal matter is taken to the farm to make compost and enrich farm harvest”.

Concluding he said “This technology significantly enhances the treatment of sludge through composting, an end product that yields cheaper source of organic soil conditioner for local farmers. To start the composting process, the compostable material is (dried faeces from the vault) is placed in long piles with kitchen and garden waste. The ‘recipe’ combines high carbon and high nitrogen materials. Air is added to maintain aerobic conditions, either by turning the piles (windrows) or forcing air through them’’.

But the audience was not convinced as almost everybody raised his/her hands to ask questions when he finished his explanations. The first question came from the group’s chairlady, Rose, who asked, “But who gets rid of the faeces when the two vaults are filled, how long does it take for these vaults to get filled?, Eke replied “the householder and this at intervals of six months”, but this answer arouses further questions;

“How do you convince an urban dweller to replace the water flush system with this dry system?” Gladys, a woman engineer sitting next to him asked. Eke was trying to get an answer when another question was asked; “How do you wash the toilet?” asked Bello, who works for UNICEF.

“Do you need to construct a pit, how deep? Asked Ade; a burly built man who had come from one of the states in the west. “How do you adapt this technology to an upstairs accommodation? Asked Etim; the general manager of a sanitation agency in the south.

It was a torrent of questions for the 27years old Eke who seemed the youngest in the group; but as he tries to satisfy their curiosities, more questions poured in. One of those was the question from Opara who had come from Onitsha, a city that sources its drinking water from the Niger River.

He had asked three questions at a go; “how culturally acceptable is this idea of handling one’s feaces”? ;……. ‘’How do you run this type of system in urban areas where there may be little need for compost’’; and …..”Do you think that people would be willing to eat crops grown with human faeces? Etc. His questions drew uproar of laughter from almost everybody there seated. Even at that more hands were still up, rearing for more questions. But that is where Augustine Smart, a previous SIDA course alumni and project manager of Latrine-Tec Nigeria Limited, steps in. "You have to allow the young man answer your questions one after the other," Augustine tells the group.

The two men, Eke and Augustine; previously unfamiliar, were brought together by the one day sub-committee meeting. The meeting gathers State water utilities, private firms, water related civil society organizations and research institution heads from all over the country, who are trying to find a solution to the many management and technical problems afflicting the country’s water and sanitation sector.

Augustine, speaking before the 100 participants, exhaustively explained the benefit of the eco-sanitation system and why it should be adopted in the country.
Augustine’s company is into the business of emptying, designing, upgrading and short listing of toilets/latrines. The company partners with the public and private groups to improve public health, personal dignity and the quality of the living environment.
He has been in the sewage disposal business for over 10 years and is well respected because of his expertise in the sector. He is a great exponent of “Sanitize and Recycle”, a model which he describes as a cycle; a sustainable, closed-loop system. It treats human excreta as a resource. Urine and faeces are stored and processed on site and then, if necessary, further processed off site until they are free of disease organism. The nutrients contained in the excreta are then recycled by using them in agriculture.

According to him “In today’s urban societies the flow of plant nutrients is linear: nutrients are taken up from the soil by the crop, transported to the market, eaten, excreted and discharged. In a sustainable society the production of food must be based on returning the plant nutrients to the soil. The use of chemical fertilizers is not sustainable, since their production relies on non-renewable resources”.

He concluded by explaining that “Ecological sanitation is based on 3 fundamental principles: Preventing pollution rather than attempting to control it after we pollute; sanitizing the urine and the faeces; and using the safe products for agricultural purposes”. It was from this approach that he defined his model; “Sanitize-and recycle”.

In view of the foregoing, it is good to report that Nigeria is ranked 20th on the Global Hunger Index. What this means is that about 65percent of Nigerians are food insecure and vulnerable to hunger and ill-health.
Though a coterie of factors is involved in food cultivation, but the role of fertilizer (organic or inorganic) is great. Sadly findings have shown that fertilizer application is still dismal amongst farmers. Nigeria is said to require about 3.7million metric tones of fertilizer per annum but only one-third is used in the farms.

Nigeria’s rate of application of NPK is reported to be 13kg per hectare. The ugly implication is the heavy post harvest losses calculated at 50per cent for fruits and vegetables and 30per cent for root crops and tubers. The number of those using compost or inorganic manure is grossly unknown, yet the potential for this brand of fertilizer to complement or replace the chemical fertilizers are not really considered hence the strangeness of eco-sanitation as being promoted by Eke.
Interestingly, Nigeria’s policy guideline on excreta and sewage management (2005) prescribes amongst others for the promotion and adaptation of the by-products of sewage treatment in productive uses. This if practiced will benefit the population in many ways.
First, food security and poverty alleviation .In parts of Nigeria, particularly in rural Nigeria, rural people suffer from periodic famine due to drought, small plot size, soil erosion, poverty (inability to purchase sufficient food) and political factors. In urban areas , poor people also suffer from under nutrition due to poverty, although urban agriculture is a growing phenomenon. However, growing food for the immediate family within confined spaces is a challenge.
The products from eco-toilets with their nutrients can be used in rural and urban areas to increase food security for all households, particularly the poor.
The products from eco-toilets can be used directly at the homestead level, in backyard gardens. Researches have shown that about 1.5litres of undiluted urine can be used to fertilize 1 square meter of soil. 1.5 liters is the amount produced by one adult in one day.
Even without an eco-toilet, people could collect their own urine and use it on backyard gardens to increase yields. However, the fertilizing effect of urine is said to work best in soil with high organic matter content and this can be increased by adding the humus from eco-toilets and garden composts.
In urban areas, the sanitized humus from eco-toilets can be used as a rich nutritious soil for planting in pots, and the urine can be used to fertilize the soil before planting and for continued fertilization of plants during growth.
Vegetable and fruit crops grown using urine fertilization produces 2-10 times the amount of crop by weight as those grown in unfertilized, poor soil. If people use urine to grow vegetables and fruits, the increased production results in greater food security at virtually no cost.
Soil enriched with humus from eco-toilets holds water longer than soils not enriched with compost. Research has also shown that plants grown in soils enriched with large amounts of humus require less watering and survive droughts better than plants grown in ordinary soils without this humus.
In times of drought as was recently experience in Yobe and Jigawa states in northern Nigeria, when whole fields of grain may die, backyard crops grown on humus may well survive and produce enough vegetables to help a family through a difficult period. If over time, families can collect enough humus from their eco-toilets, they may be able to enrich larger and larger areas, leading to increasing food security.
Second, cost saving for Nigerian farmers is another benefit. This is true because the formulation of nutrients in urine is similar but not exactly the same as that in commercial fertilizers. But urine and commercial fertilizers give similar results in boosting plant growth.
Urine is high in nitrogen and lower in phosphorus and potassium. Some top-up of phosphorus and potassium is often needed to get the best possible use of nitrogen. As faeces and ash are high in phosphorus and potassium, farmers can replace commercial fertilizers with urine and top-up with sanitized faeces from eco-toilets at little or no extra cost.
A study in China calculated the cost savings of using urine and dried faecal humus from eco-toilets as a fertilizer in a 3000 square meter greenhouse owned by one farmer in Jilin Province of northern China. The farmer not only used the dried faeces from his household but also purchased additional dried faeces from other homes with eco-toilets and was given their urine free of charge.
He did not calculate the cost of transport of dried faeces (which was transported by tractor) or the cost of transporting urine, which was carried in buckets on shoulder poles. He used to buy 350-400kg commercial fertilizer per year, but now this has been replaced by the free urine. The farmer calculated his cost savings per year to be the equivalent of CNY 740 (USD90) per 1000 square meters.
Such calculations could become even more important at the community level, especially where farmers are struggling to make a living. A city of 100,000 people would produce about 500,000kg of elemental nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) per year in excreta. While the cost of commercial fertilizer varies between countries, as does its content of elemental NPK, it is possible to make a rough cost comparison of buying elemental products or collecting and transporting locally produced urine and faeces.
Third; preventing nitrogen pollution of drinking water in our communities is another benefit. Pit toilets as well as sewers are frequently a source of ground water pollution, especially in areas where the water table is high such as Port Harcourt, Calabar and Lagos etc.
Urine is rich in nitrogen and up to 50% of the nitrogen leaches out of the pit toilet pass through the soil and reaches the groundwater. Water with NO3 concentrations higher than 50mg/liter is considered to be unfit for human consumption. It is not unusual to find such high concentrations of nitrogen in wells in communities with pit toilets.
Recommendations as those in Nigeria’s policy guidelines on excreta and sewage management (2005) that toilets be sited at least 30meters from wells are meant to protect well water from pollution, but plenty experience shows that soil conditions vary considerably and both pathogens and nitrogen pollution can still result.
Finally, restoring lost top soils could also be another great benefit. This is true because according to FAO, the Earth is losing 25billion tones of topsoil per year because of erosion. Chemical fertilizers, while boosting plant growth, cannot replace topsoil. Topsoil contains humus formed from decayed plant and animal matter, and is rich in carbon compounds and micro-organisms necessary for healthy plant growth, which are not found in chemical fertilizers.
The addition of humus is therefore necessary to maintain and renew the topsoil. With the loss of topsoil comes the loss of human food security. In many parts of the world, people are experiencing reduced productivity on their lands due to loss of top soils.
But is Eke capable of convincing the group and the authorities of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources who are the conveners of the sub-technical committee meeting to consider the merits of his case? Perhaps there is also need to seek the ears of the Federal Ministry of Environment so that a synergy could be achieved.
Already a chemical fertilizer contract worth 64billion Naira has been awarded by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. This was in the categories of 290,000 metric tones of Urea; 210,000 metric tones of NPK 15-15-15 and NPK 20-10-10 each as well as 150,000 metric tones of SPP18 percent.
The award of this contract almost caused a scandal for the ministry when contracted earlier screened for the contract were dropped for reasons that bordered on corruption charges according to the minister Dr.Abba Ruma. The minister had explained that the ministry was able to save the Federal Government of Nigeria about 20billion naira through proper certification of fertilizer suppliers in Nigeria.
Already the global rise of oil price has already reflected in fertilizers since fertilizers are usually hydrocarbon derived. This has inhibited large purchase on the part of the government and the individual. The Federal Government of Nigeria had to shelve its original plan of buying 850 metric tones for 650,000 metric tones. What this means is that only a fewer number of farmers will actually get fertilizer while many will not.
In this context is the urgent need to adapt farmers to the sustainable benefits of eco-sanitation products; urine and faeces. For a product like urine this is true, because most of the plant nutrients in human excreta are found in the urine. Based on data from five countries (China, Haiti, India, South Africa and Uganda) it is estimated that on average each person produces about 5kg of elemental NPK in excreta per year; about 4kg in the urine and 1kg in the faeces. Using urine as a fertilizer is worth it, especially as its content of NPK is readily available to the plants.
In Sweden, the total yearly production of human urine contains elemental nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium equivalent to approximately 20% of the amounts of these nutrients used as mineral fertilizers in 1999/2000. The concentrations of heavy metals in human urine are negligible- an important advantage over chemical fertilizers.
Urine works better if the soil to which it is added contains humus. Such humus is rich in living materials and beneficial soil bacteria, and these convert the urine nitrogen into a form that the plant can use.
Trials on the fertilizing effects of urine have been tried in a number of other countries. Example: In Sweden, tests on Barley showed that the nitrogen effect of urine corresponded to about 90% of that of equal amounts of ammonium nitrate mineral fertilizers.
Similar test on Leeks showed that fertilizing with urine gave a threefold crop yield increase. The nitrogen efficiency…, when using human urine was high, ranging from 47% to 66%. This is the same level as when mineral fertilizers are used. Nitrogen efficiency for most other organic fertilizers e.g. Compost, is normally between 5 and 30%. Tests on Swiss chard in Ethiopia showed crop yields of the fertilized plots were up to four times of the unfertilized.
Human faeces consist mainly of undigested organic matter such as fibers made up of carbon. Although faeces contain fewer nutrients than urine, the humus produced from faeces actually contains higher concentrations of phosphorus and potassium.

After pathogen destruction (through dehydration/or decomposition) the resulting inoffensive material may be applied to the soil to increase the amount of available nutrients, to increase the amount of available nutrients, to increase the organic matter content and to improve the water holding capacity.

With poor soils, the best way of enhancing plant growth using processed human excreta is in two stages. The first stage involves improving the texture and humus content of the soil by combining it with humus formed from processed faeces or faeces and urine. Leaf compost and garden compost can also be used at this stage.
The second stage involves enhancing and sustaining the nutrient levels in the soil with urine. It should be noted that during growth, all plants take up nutrients, and the nutrients removed from the field during crop harvests must be replaced if the soil is to remain a fertile medium for growing of healthy plants.
It was with all this in mind that an international group of planners, architects, engineers, hydro-geologists, ecologists, biologists, agronomists and social scientists have since the 1990’s developed an approach to sanitation that saves water, does not pollute and returns the nutrients in human excreta to the soil. We call this approach “ecological sanitation”, or “eco-san” for short.
Certainly this is not a queer approach to food security. It works!

Communicating Adaptation in Africa

Does it bother you that most discussions of how to address climate change in Africa has focused much more on adaptation(e.g. coping with the storms, floods, drought, sea- floor rise and other impacts that climate change will bring) than mitigation (e.g. reducing green house emission etc)?

Not to worry, both adaptation and mitigation are very crucial in addressing the challenges of climate change. However, the onus of addressing mitigation is common with countries like China, USA, Russia, India, Japan, Germany, Canada, UK, South Korea, Iran, Italy, South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, France, Australia, Brazil, Spain, Ukraine and Poland etc whose expanding economy has a huge feed demand for fuel. For these countries, mitigation is a central concern they constitute the top 20 CO2 emitters per capita (measured at metric tonnes per person). Apart from South Africa, no other African country made this list.

However, it is germane to note that in Marrakech in Morocco in November 2001, at the Seventh Conference of the Parties, delegates focused their minds on both adaptations to climate change and mitigation measures and, for the first time, formally recognized the dilemmas of adaptation for the developing nations. This recognition took the form of funding mechanisms to assist countries to adapt. The Delhi Declaration from the Eight Conference of the Parties in November 2002 reinforced the importance of adaptation. The Delhi Declaration, in effect, has linked the participation of the developing world in mitigation of emissions to actions and funding on adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

While developing countries with lean economies and who no doubt suffer the negative impacts of a changing climate are still struggling to define and adopt an adaptation pathway peculiar to its milieu, those in the top 20 CO2 emitting bracket have long set out in setting emission reduction targets.

In August 2008 Brazil launched the Amazon Fund, aimed at protecting the rainforest so vital to the world’s climate and combating climate change. In December 2008 Brazil also launched a national climate change plan which proposed to cut the country’s deforestation rate in half by 2018. For South Africa, an emission reduction strategy was drawn in July 2008. A final domestic policy is likely to be adopted by the end of 2010, likely to involve mandatory targets for reducing transport emissions and plans for increasing the carbon price.

Countries in the EU such as Germany and the UK are part of the European Union’s Climate Action Programme. The EU is committed to reducing its overall emissions to at least 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and is ready to scale up this reduction to as much as 30 per cent under a new global climate change agreement when other developed countries make comparable efforts. Barack Obama has set out initial overall ambitions on climate change; and these are to return US emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and reduce them by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. A key tool will be a cap-and-trade system like the EU’s Emission Trading System.

In April 2007 Canada released an action plan to reduce green house gases. The Canadian government committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (relative to 2006 levels) by 20 per cent by 2020 and by 60 per cent to 70 per cent by 2050. In June 2007 China released a three-pronged national climate change programme, the first by any developing country. Its aims are to control greenhouse gas emissions, stimulate research and development, and raise public awareness. It has a renewable energy target (15 percent of total energy by 2020), and a plan to increase forest coverage rate to 20 per cent by 2010.

The IPCC proclaims that there is now little doubt that human induced climate change is happening. All societies consequently need to learn to cope with the changes that are predicted such as warmer temperatures, drier soils, changes in weather extremes and rising sea levels. The vulnerability of a system to climate change is determined by its exposure, by its physical settings and sensitivity, and by its ability and opportunity to adapt to change or otherwise. To illustrate these categories, sensitivity will be high where the system in question includes, for example, settlements built on flood plains, hill slopes or low-lying coastal areas.

What this means is that some sectors will be more sensitive and some groups more vulnerable to risks posed by climate change than others hence underscoring the urgency to build resilience through adaptive capacity required to face the evolving challenges in the years ahead. Peoples vulnerability to the risks associated with climate change is feared to likely evolve many other tight challenges such as poverty, especially in places like Africa where dependence on resources that are vulnerable to changing climate such as farming, fishery, water supplies etc is very high.

In terms of action, adaptation may take the form of reducing dependence on vulnerable systems such as diversifying food production away from a limited number of drought-prone crops, of decreasing sensitivity by avoiding building settlements and infrastructure in high-risk locations, or by strengthening existing systems so that they are less likely to be damaged by unusual events.

It also includes the need to mainstream into adaptation projects the recognition that people of developing countries are not just passive victims. Indeed, in the past they have had the greatest resilience to droughts, floods and other catastrophes etc. Pastoralists in West African Sahel have been known to adapt to cope with rainfall decreases of 25-33% in the twentieth century.

However, as efforts to develop and diffuse adaptation mechanisms in Africa and elsewhere grows in momentum, one major constraint has been the failure to develop an effective communication strategy to drive the process. Effective communication as a sub-set of development needs to be developed in order to get the message down to the bottom of the pyramid where those most affected agglutinate. The concept of information in general and of climate change adaptation information in particular, as a resource for effective adaptation and development needs to be domesticated well beyond current cosy confines of conference rooms and research hubs.

In Guinea, rising sea levels linked to global warming is feared to likely result in stronger coastal currents, higher tides and sea encroachment of land. Guinea’s coastal region, home to West Africa’s largest and richest mangroves, would therefore bear the brunt of global climate change. The region’s entire economy is now under threat. It is feared that the main victims of all these climate variations would be people living near the coast. An estimate of 2 million people is likely to suffer income losses.

In an effort to limit the foreseeable damage, Guinea has launched a national plan of action for climate change adaptation (PANA-CC), which sets out priorities, among them measures for protecting coastal areas. It outlines vigorous action for saving the mangroves and reforesting the region, planting teak and cashew trees. Faced with rising water levels, communities are being advised in Guinea to build sea walls and plant trees along the coast in order to protect the rice fields that have taken the place of the mangroves.

Other recommendations include enforcing laws on coastal settlements and tackling pollution. For these adaptation measures to work, it is crucial that local people be provided with environmental education and prepared for possible catastrophes in the future. Efforts such as those in Guinea need to be supported and diffused into other countries in the region as quickly as is possibly.

As measures such as those in Guinea and elsewhere get developed, it becomes urgent to educate people including government officials on what mitigation is, and how it differs from adaptation. Local policy makers, planners and administrators need to recognize that information is indispensable to the adaptation process. This is apparent with due cognizance of the fact that in most parts of Africa, the essential information mechanisms and infrastructural facilities are not yet sufficiently developed to foster the generation, storage, preservation, retrieval, dissemination and utilization of information.

However, effective communication is seen as an essential tool for the establishment and maintenance of good social and working relationships and it enables people to exercise control over their environment. The purpose of communication is to bring about change of attitude, knowledge, skills and aspiration of the receivers. In Nigeria, various communication media are commonly used to transmit all sorts of information to people. Some of these include magazines, leaflets, newsletters, newspapers, pamphlets, radio, internet, telephone (GSM) and television, among others.

Among these lot, radio rates higher and is often the most preferred tool of mass communication in Nigeria. Radio programs are usually timely and capable of extending messages to the audience no matter where they may be as long as they have a receiver with adequate supply of power. The absence of such facilities as road, light and water are no hindrance to radio. Similarly, such obstacles as difficult topography, distance, time and socio-political exigencies do not hinder the performance of radio. Illiteracy is no barrier to radio messages since such messages can be passed in the audience own language.

Climate Change: Need to diffuse proactive Adaptation

There are growing fears that Climate Change presents another manner of external shock to the poor, and one of the ways to cushion the shock is possibly through the diffusion of adaptation measures as a proactive response. This is so because a great many of the poor men and women in urban, rural and peri-urban settings base their livelihoods on ‘informal activities’-----small-scale cropping, livestock rearing, agro-processing and other micro-enterprises.
In many of these activities, an adequate water supply is a crucial enabling resource: used in, or necessary for, the activity itself; freeing time (by reducing time spent collecting water); or as a key element in improved health that in turn enables people to work. Water supplies provided to households therefore have a huge potential to impact on poverty. This is particularly true for the poorest (and for women, who are in majority amongst the poorest).
Peoples’ water needs are typically met through multiple sources- from rainwater to waste-water to piped systems. Rarely do people rely on single sources as single sources tend to be used for multiple purposes. A review that builds on this reality in designing and service delivery to respond to extant exotic realities in the climate system is desired in order to meet peoples’ needs for households’ water supplies. This therefore underscores the fact that the challenges of water availability and water quality are intertwined with the challenges of food security, urbanization and environmental degradation. They stand in the way of poverty reduction and sustainable development.
The growing recognition of the serious gaps that already exist globally in access to safe drinking water and sanitation coupled with the overwhelming threat by climate change has exposed the need for innovative adaptation of appropriate technologies and measures in countries most at need. The adaptation processes need to increase the diffusion of technological innovations to the poor by highlighting how and overcoming the challenges of infrastructure and endemic traditional or cultural practices.

Adaptation actions offer a chance to decrease people’s vulnerability to the vagaries of climate change. This has become necessary because of the appreciation that existing gaps in water and sanitation services are embedded in the grinding realities of extreme poverty in regions with underdeveloped infrastructure, and in settings largely devoid of institutional mechanisms and cultural norms for fostering scalable interventions such as in Africa.

Regrettably discussions of how to address climate change have often focused far more on mitigation (reducing green house gas emissions) than adaptation (coping with the storms, floods, sea-level rise and other impacts that climate change brings). The limited discussions on adaptation have also given little attention to cities. But many cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean are at high risk from climate change- even as they (or the nation in which they are located) have contributed very little to green house gas emissions.

There is every need now to discuss how to manage the impact of climate change on Nigeria’s urban water resources because of Nigeria’s high dependence upon natural resources. This vulnerability relates to many natural and human phenomena; including climate change and variability; pollution, population growth, water scarcity; and knowledge gaps. The development of an adaptation framework for these issues are urgently needed in Nigeria as in other parts of Africa, in order to alleviate the high risks faced by the country’s ecosystems, and to inform and strengthen the coping strategies of poor urban communities who may be less capable of adapting to climate change and other risks.
No doubt, water remains the most vital for human survival. Throughout Nigeria, people are becoming increasingly affected by the degradation of water sources. Disasters from floods, sanitary pollutions and droughts are ruining the lives and livelihood of many, and have recently been closely linked with global climate change. In this context is the fact that despite the critical importance of water resources to Nigeria, there have been very few studies of the effects of global warming or its management especially groundwater resources.
The effects of climate change have already been felt in many parts of the country with the modifications of the intensity and seasonal nature of the rains, the elevation of average annual temperatures, and the increased frequency of widespread, high impact weather phenomena including drought and flooding.
Floods in particular, especially in coastal cities like Lagos and Port Harcourt, and other parts of the country would still remain a major challenge because of the failure of leadership in these cities. Buildings, roads, infrastructure and other paved areas now obstruct natural drainage channels while greed have eclipsed provision for and use of parks and other open spaces as places to safely accommodate flood water from unusually serious storms. The result today is that rainfalls no longer easily infiltrate the soil- hence huge run-off. Worsening the situation is that heavy or prolonged rainfall now rapidly overwhelms most of our cities’ poorly maintained and insufficient drainage systems as those existing are full of silt and clogged with garbage.
As a cross-sectional element, water remains a central part of any vulnerability analyses dealing with climate change. Associated with drought and flood risk, water is a challenge represented by the increasing scarcity of the liquid so essential for human life. There is therefore need for the rational use of water in the broadest sense—including water saving and reuse and the recharging of aquifers etc.
In this context are the traditional problems of decaying water treatment plants and water pipes, insufficient capacity, and poor quality and quantity of water supply; lack of management capacity because of neglecting non-technical factors; weak financial structure and difficulty of new investments, because of high rate of non-revenue water, low water fees which cannot recover the costs, and over staffing, etc that are common in most water utilities in Nigeria.
A typical case is the Lagos State Water Corporation. Here, the water distribution network can only reach one in every three of the 15 million inhabitants of the city. Yet, they projected population growth of 4% per annum of the city means that the city’s water demand, will double by the year 2020. The cost of meeting current and projected demand has been put at around $2.5 billion over the next 20 years.
Generally, cities in Africa are worse hit because they do not only have limited means with which to expand the water, and maintain the quality but they also need to expand water supply services to meet the ever increasing needs of industry and to support growing population with varying distribution of population and settlement patterns in rural and urban settings. The consequence is that as the world remains on track to meeting the 2015 MDG water targets, disparities continue in sub-Saharan Africa which has the lowest coverage and is not on track for the MDG target.
There is therefore the need to cushion the shock by the diffusion of adaptation measures as a proactive response because the failure to act would heighten the risk of severe damage to the economy and other physical, chemical, and biological systems; all with severe negative consequences for Nigerians. This should start with a vulnerability analysis of the impacts of climate change and the putting in place of a viable action plan with efficient adaptation measures in every state of the country.

The agony in flooded neighborhoods

As the rainy season arrives once again, anxiety is mounting daily over the extent of flooding that is likely to be experienced in Port Harcourt, Lagos and other Nigerian cities. As this prevails one question reigns: How can poor households escape the monstrous flood that now more than ever before over-run their homes on regular basis? Beyond traditional concerns of leaking roofs in poor neighborhoods, one major concern that has eclipsed the former is the flooding of neighborhoods. Worst affected being densely populated low income urban neighborhoods.
In Benin, Owerri, Calabar and other parts of urban Nigeria flooding has become a modern day menace. Flood in particular, especially in Nigerian coastal cities is an extant major challenge. Though climate change related, it is also related to changes in built-up areas. The building of infrastructure, residential and office accommodations, as well as paved surfaces now obstruct natural drainage channels, and eclipsing the provision already made for, and use of parks and other open spaces as places to safely accommodate flood water from unusually serious storms. The result today is that rainfalls no longer easily infiltrate the soil; hence rapidly generating huge run-offs. Also high intensity or prolonged rainfalls now rapidly overwhelms local areas because of poorly maintained and insufficient drainage systems as those in existence are full of silt and clogged with garbage.
In Port Harcourt city and its environs, unpredictable high intensity rainfalls now results in mass flooding of neighborhoods. In such areas, one recurring problem is the overflow and clogging of latrines, as well as the erosion of pit and septic tank structures. The major problems arising from these are surface water contamination and loss of accessibility to the latrine during flood. Often, the most affected are the urban poor who live in densely populated neighborhoods where households share on-site latrines located outside their living rooms. For women in such areas, this is an issue as loss of access also translates to loss of privacy for defecation. The result is that most residents are now compelled to “wrap and throw” their excreta into runoffs; and further worsening the health risks and retarding local gains in sanitation coverage.
From Lagos, Tessy Igomu writing for the SUN reports that each day, the picture is nauseating. Open sewage tanks and pipes oozing acrid odor; blocked drainages and gutters overflowing with garbage as well as disused household items and pure water sachets have become sights that Lagos State residents daily behold during rainy season. To many Lagos residents, a cloudy sky only signals one thing: Prepare to empty your waste bin into any available drainage. ‘Agbara a gbe lo,’ meaning, the flood will carry it away, is an easy chant on the people’s lips in defense of such dirty habit.
According to a man called Rasaki, who earns a living vulcanizing vehicles, the dirt from the Lagos canal, as well as sandbags stacked along its perimeters have, in recent weeks, found their way back to the tertiary drainage. “We are afraid of what might happen. The high mould of sand usually rolls back into the dredged channels with so much noise that makes the water overflow the canal with force. Every day, the man that operates the dredger would come and switch it on. After that, he would just disappear for the day,” he complained. Voicing her fears, Nkechi Ogom, a salon operator at Lawanson area of the metropolis complained that they are yet to enjoy reprieve from flood since the state government started dredging the Idi-Araba canal in the area. “This canal runs from here to Mushin and empties its water into the lagoon. We live in fear because no serious work has been done on it. They just demolished houses close to it, brought out the sand and left it that way. I must tell you that we are afraid here”, she lamented. The lamentation is widespread in all the areas where major drainages snake through in the state. Residents of such areas actually live with bated breath when the sky darkens.However, for madam Glory in Mushin; concerns over latrine and latrine wastes are topmost. She recalls “Last year, tens of floating polythene bags sailed into our rooms with the invading flood, when we tried to remove them, their contents, mostly “shit” poured all over the place. Even after the rain, the problem persisted as we all had diarrhea”.

In Amadi Ama and Diobu areas of Port Harcourt, incidents of floating “shits” during flood is common. Residents are worried that fellow residents could afford to punish others by throwing their wastes into flood. According to Mr. Amakiri, “If only I had the funds, I would have parked out of the place to a better place; rainfall season is a bad time for us because of the floods”. He continued…” The water that comes, always come with sand and other dirt including wastes from toilets, this makes the whole place filthy and unsafe”.

For Angela, who lives around Slaughter area in Port Harcourt, “The toilets are clogged and washed over during flood. You won’t even find a place to excrete till after one week or two after the flood”. Wading through flooded compounds in search of good toilet to use during flooding gives Moses some concern, according to him; “My pregnant wife suffered so much in April because of no latrines as our toilets were submerged and unusable, it was hell”

Though residents agree that the state governments in Lagos and Port Harcourt are doing well to check the flood problem, they however gives thumps up to LatrineTec, a private company that works on ecological latrine emptying, upgrading and short listing of adaptable latrines; and training services etc. The company partners with other groups to improve public health, personal dignity and the quality of the living environment. Its specific areas of operation include the emptying of septic tanks.

LatrineTec is currently promoting the “Flood Resilient Household Latrine”; an innovative design with improved adaptive features to the traditional pit and the pour-flush system. Its designers in delivering it were not unmindful of the fact that certain latrine components are vulnerable to flood damage and that some are most likely to lead the users to abandon the latrine hence have adopted an improved version of the Bangladesh raised latrines.

Therefore the flood resilient latrine as being promoted by the company retains improved design and more careful installation that makes it adaptable. It also has unique internal and external components and unlike other sanitation options, it retains enormous flexibility with great ease of adaptability based on the fact that it could be built in-door or outdoor; operated on either single or twin pits that are well sealed; and appropriate for both rural and urban settings as well as being accessible to even disable persons and respects privacy.

When indoors, the floor does not have to be broken open periodically for emptying the pit hence encouraging families to use a higher standard of fittings and materials, thus increasing the prestige attached to it. If inside the house, people can visit the toilet in complete privacy without wading through flooded compounds to access it.

Based in Port Harcourt, LatrineTec according to the Marketing Manager Mr. Emma Ekong, the company is currently partnering with some NGOs to engage landlords to upgrade their house latrines and make them resilient to floods. He also unveils the company’s plan to partner with the Port Harcourt City and Obio-Akpor Councils in this regard.
Till this is achieved, the agony probably lingers.

The travails of Nigerian Rice

One food that has become a major source of calories for the average Nigerian is rice. It is becoming difficult to find rice missing on the daily menu of most Nigerians or the refreshment list of important ceremonies such as wedding, naming ceremonies, wedding anniversaries, burial ceremonies, birthday parties and many others.
In Nigerian markets, both those in the rural and urban areas, rice is a major grocery that often occupies a conspicuous position. It knows no religion, and does not discriminate against any tribe or race in Nigeria. Both the Nigerian rich and poor eat it, though the contents of the preparation may be different. Nigerian traders, especially those who trade on it would be in a better position to know their margin of profit.
Rice can be grown over a wide range of ecological conditions, and is cultivated in virtually all the agro-ecological zones in Nigeria. Nigeria encompasses four major agro-ecological zones, with rainfall diminishing along a South-North gradient. The forest zone borders the coast in the South, and going northward gives way to the Guinea and Sudan Savannah. Nigeria’s North Eastern fringe falls within the Sahel zone.
Though rice contributes a significant proportion of the food requirements of the population, production capacity is far below the national requirements for rice. In order to meet the increasing demand for rice, Nigeria has had to resort to importation of milled rice to bridge the gap between domestic demand and supply. Nigeria’s rice import is paid for in foreign currency.
A combination of various factors seems to have triggered the structural increase in rice consumption. Like elsewhere, urbanization appears to be the most important cause of the shift in consumer preferences towards rice in Nigeria. Rice is easy to prepare compared to other traditional cereals, thereby reducing the chore of food preparation and fitting more easily in the urban lifestyles of rich and poor alike. Rice indeed is no longer a luxury food in Nigeria and has become a major staple food for many households.
Demand for rice in Nigeria is, however, growing faster than for any other major staples, with consumption broadening across all socio-economic classes, including the poor. Substitution of rice for coarse grains and traditional roots and tubers has fuelled growth in demand at an annual rate of 5.6 per cent between 1961 and 1992. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had in 2003 projected growth in rice consumption for Nigeria beyond year 2000 to remain as high as 4.5 per cent per annum.
Nigerians have been identified to consume about 5.4 million metric tons of rice annually (valued at $9.2 billion at current prices), while local production only amounts to about 2.3 million metric tons per year, and that the remaining 3.1 million metric tons is imported, making Nigeria the second largest importer of rice in the world.
The key problems facing the rice production in Nigeria has been identified to consist of lack of competitiveness resulting from low and uneconomic productivity, poor access to expensive inputs (especially fertilizers and credit), low capacity to meet quality standards and little or no encouragement of private sector participation. Also, increasing changes in rainfall patterns as a result of climate change is already threatening local rice cultivation and making it pretty difficult to plough rice fields after the very first rain or make multiple harvests in one year.

The resulting harvest shrinkage and diminishing income, is further exacerbated by endemic water mismanagement and inappropriate land use by farmers which have led to massive soil erosion and loss of the soil’s productive capacity. Also, limited potential for dry season rice cultivation through soil and water conservation, and the non-employment of rain water harvesting technologies have continued to widen the increasing demand-supply gap for rice. The consequence is threatened food security and livelihood for hundreds of local rice farmers in Nigeria.

Generally, food production in sub – Saharan Africa is prone to multiple risks since it is based on rain – fed systems hence imposing the onerous challenge of producing adequate food on developing countries to satisfy her growing population. This has contributed immensely to a widening gap between food supply and demand However, efforts in the present problematic rain fed agricultural production need to be complemented through dry season farming. This is absolutely necessary because the productive realm of the small scale producer needs expansion to infuse higher productivity. Then may then query what has happened to the fadamas?

In a frail attempt to reverse this trend, the Olusegun Obasanjo’s government had initiated some “farmer-friendly policies” under the Presidential Initiative on Rice. One of such policies was the high import tariffs on imported milled rice. But the crumbling of that initiative very shortly after the end of the tenure of that government exposed the weaknesses or sincerity of those behind it.
With less than one year in office President Umaru Yar'Adua and the 36 state governors at an emergency meeting in Abuja, had decided to import 500,000 tonnes of rice up to a value of US$600 million from Thailand to curtail the effect of the global rise in food prices on Nigeria.
According to the then governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Agagu; "The whole essence of this importation in the short term is to create availability and reduce the skyrocketing prices," He further said: "We cannot say there is famine in Nigeria yet, but the prices of foodstuffs are going up and availability in a number of places is diminishing," During the period of that announcement, the price of a bag of rice on markets in Nigeria had doubled and tripled to between US$85 and US$102. Nigerian traders were reported to have bought stocks of rice and grains from around the West and Central Africa region. The government imported rice was to be sold around US$50 per 50kg bag.But Ahmed Rabiu, then vice president of Kano Chamber of Commerce, in an interview had dismissed the massive import order as senseless. According to him : "It would have taken a minimum of three months to import and distribute the rice to the people that needed it and by then many farmers will have started harvesting their crops which will make the import worthless," However, one week later, that is after the initial decision to import rice, the Agriculture Minister Abba Sayyadi Ruma rescinded the import decision and instead approved the investment of US$85 million in a credit scheme meant to support local rice processing as part of measures to attain food sufficiency. The government also suspended duties on rice imports for six months and ordered the release of 11,000 metric tonnes of grains from its strategic food reserves for sale at one-sixth its market value. Sabo Nanono, head of Kano chapter of Nigeria's commercial farmers union had said the decision to invest in the domestic agriculture sector was the right one, even though it will not achieve as much populist enthusiasm as the rice imports. He estimated that Nigeria has conditions favourable enough to become a net exporter of rice, given the right tools, seeds and irrigation. According to him: "It is a wise decision that the government reversed the idea of importing the rice" Nigeria, a former agrarian nation, abandoned agriculture in the early 1980s when the government refocused the economy on oil exploration, which now accounts for more than 90 per cent of total government revenue. Sadly, the bulk of this revenue is stolen by politicians and their cronies. The consequence is that today, according to the agriculture ministry, 91 million Nigerians representing 65 percent of the country's population are food insecure.

As noted earlier, rice is grown across the 6 geopolitical or 4 ecological zones of Nigeria. In the east, Uboma is the major rice producing community in Imo State. The community is noted for its lowland rice fields, the biggest in the entire state. Rice here are transplanted or seeded directly in the soil on level to slightly sloping fields with variable depth and duration of flooding depending on rainfall. Most of these farms are located mainly along the flooded valleys of the Imo River. Most of the rice farms are privately owned as they are cultivated in private family lands. Rice farmers tend to be small-scale, with farms of 1-2 ha.

It is however sad that instead of giving these farmers the maximum support they need, both the Imo state and the Ihitte Uboma local government council have preferred to fuddle at the expense of such important crop. Policy somersault and inconsistencies have continued to undermine the genuine efforts of the rice farmers to produce enough rice for everybody.
Instead of genuine assistance in form of extension programs and micro-finance or credit facilities the Udenwa administration (1999-2007) was contented in manual distributing of unsustainable items like rain coats, boots, hoe and shovel to the farmers. The road project planned to run from the Umuahia-Owerri road to Isinweke to the rice farms in Onicha Uboma was abandoned, while no attempt was made to rehabilitate the rice mills.

Since after the expiration of the Udenwa misrule, the new government led by Ikedi Ohakim is yet to define his strategies for the rice fields in Uboma. What we now hear is that Governor Ikedi Ohakim has guaranteed the sum of N1 billion to the privately owned Cooperative Federation of Imo State to import about two million bags, of 100,000 metric tons of rice to Imo State.According to Rev. Dr, Geoffrey Maduabuchi Samuel, who is the President of the Cooperative Federation of Imo State, the shipment would commence in May 2009 and will run till December 2009. He posited that because of the guarantee given by Governor Ohakim, cooperative federation of Imo has stationed one of its officials in Thailand for the past three months to supervise the processing of the guarantee, bagging, loading and shipment of the consignment. What a shame?

Why not invest or guarantee such a lump sum in rice fields in Uboma and parts of Aro Ndizogu? Sadly, it is misplaced priorities on crucial issues like this that have constituted a clog in the development and expansion of the many rice fields and other crops in Nigeria. In the words of Alhaji Sabo Nanono, “Nigeria has conditions favourable enough to become a net exporter of rice, given the right tools, seeds and irrigation” But, kindly, the NGO-Rural Africa Water Development Project (RAWDP) is today in partnership with the rice farmers is designing an improvement program that will be beneficial to all parties. The outcome, if successful will be cheery.

{Please note that references have been cited for this work, and You may contact the author directly on to get the list}

Supporting Nigerian farmers to do well

How can small scale farmers be supported to build resilience and effectively respond to the devastating effects of climate change in Nigeria? Making a case for small scale farmers is most urgent at this time because they constitute a large portion of extant poor farmers in Nigeria today.

In an analysis of those most at risk from climate change, the Environment and Urbanization journal had identified poor people as most vulnerable as they are least able to avoid the direct or indirect impacts of climate change by for example, having no irrigation facilities in their farms; living in poorly built homes, living in neighborhoods without drainage systems that prevent flooding, and have limited options to expand their livelihood activities etc. In contrast, wealthy individuals can effectively reduce these risks by having safer housing, have irrigation facilities or rainwater harvesting structures, have insurance, live in good neighborhoods and have variety of livelihood options etc.

But then, how many of us ever give a thought to such concerns. It remains to be seen, how privileged people really appreciate the plight of the poor. The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had said, and I agree perfectly with him that the wealthy would always be able to look after themselves; and that it was people at the other end of the economic scale i.e. the poor that the government ought to be helping.

In Nigeria, increasing changes in rainfall patterns as a result of climate change is already threatening local agricultural cultivation and making it pretty difficult to plough farm lands after the very first rains. This is generally the case in both North and South as severity is relative in different contexts.

In the South; Uboma is a rural farming community in Ihitte/Uboma local government area of Imo State, Nigeria. The community is noted for its lowland rice fields, the biggest in the entire state. Rice here are transplanted or seeded directly in the soil on level to slightly sloping fields with variable depth and duration of flooding depending on rainfall. Most of these farms are located mainly along the flooded valleys of the Imo River. Most of the rice farms are privately owned as they are cultivated in private family lands. Rice farmers tend to be small-scale, with farms of 1-2 ha.

Today changing climatic conditions has resulted to harvest shrinkage and diminishing income. This is further being exacerbated by endemic water mismanagement and inappropriate land use by farmers which have led to massive soil erosion and loss of the soil’s productive capacity. Also, limited potential for dry season rice cultivation through soil and water conservation, and the non-employment of rain water harvesting technologies have continued to widen the increasing demand-supply gap for rice. The consequence is threatened food security and livelihood for hundreds of local rice farmers and people in Uboma and other parts of Nigeria that hitherto had rice supplies from these farms.

Farmers in Yobe State had been cultivating 650,000 hectares of farmlands through rain fed agriculture in the last several years, but the situation has today deteriorated following massive onslaught of desertification which has been estimated at 10km per annum. The same ugly situation obtains in Bauchi, Borno, Gombe and Taraba States where incidents of river siltation, desert encroachment and menace of typha grass is impoverishing thousands of farmers.

Getting on top of this situation calls for innovative thinking with scalable and replicable attributes. This is true because successful interventions against drought often require the application of simple land management options that requires knowledge sharing. With a good approach and an understanding of the benefits accruable, Nigerian farmers would easily adapt, as the up-scaling and replication potential of such intervention anywhere would be possible. What is required beyond finance is the commitment of the farmers to respond to the demands of the idea.

Therefore, the on-going project by the NGO; Rural Africa Water Development Project (RAWDP) in this regard is timely as it aims to improve hundreds of hectares of land in selected drought affected rural communities in Nigeria through the strengthening of the links between Rainwater Harvesting and Soil and Water Conservation within an integrated water resources management (IWRM).

This is being done through media exposure series that highlights agronomic, vegetative, structural and management measures that control soil degradation and enhances productivity in the field, and the training of thousands of local farmers to undertake integrated watershed development based on rainwater harvesting and soil conservation for the regeneration and sustainable management of their farmlands. In doing this, the project will courageously plant trees, document and disseminate best practices on soil and water conservation. The implementation strategy for the project is basically an interactive landscape learning process, which consists of interactive farm visits; focus group/communal television watching and discussions sessions etc.

The NGOs project is innovative because amongst other factors, it effectively manages a water related risk through the adoption of simple soil and water conservation measures vital to meeting the exerting demand of food security for an expanding population for whom rice is a staple food, through a robust and flexible mechanism that is driven locally through farm learning and exposure dialogue series that benefits not only the immediate participating farmers, but also afar farmers through recorded video programs on local televisions.

By this, it remains open to the incorporation of emerging new information and knowledge; addressing immediate crisis and strategizing for long term sustainability in an integrated and holistic manner. Some of these strategies are the quality control offered by the model farm and the secure market it creates for the farmers through a process that rewards farmers that produces quality paddy. It further supports the farmers by creating a viable network that links them from farm to market, therefore achieving a unique strategy that is not only adaptive to global climate change but also global economic recession. The idea will work because the adoption of improved water management has been proven to facilitate rice growth and maturity within 3 months and enabling farmers make multiple harvests in a year.
According to the NGO’s project manager Mr. Cyriacus Ajuruchi; “RAWDP has enormous goodwill in communities where we work and the tools to enable sustainability of our projects. Beyond the financial support from some local corporate organizations, we have planned to further raise funds through sales of our video documentaries and promotional stickers etc Adequacy and sustenance of such funds in addition to the leveraging of other donor funds as well as our cost cutting strategies in the communities where we work will continue to see the project well into the future”. Rural Africa Water Development Project (RAWDP) is an NGO that works with the local poor. In its team are service minded water professionals who have requisite qualification and experience. RAWDP retains deep expertise in water resource and environmental management and has understands why sustainability is crucial in local projects of this kind. It is however, germane to underscore that this project is a direct fall out of a Rainwater Harvesting and Soil and water conservation for food security exposure dialogue program in Nanyuki, Kenya, which RAWDP was part of. By successfully initiating this project in Nigeria, RAWDP is no doubt expanding the sustainability nexus of that Kenya 2005 workshop.

Supporting West Africa’s adaptation to Sea level rises

West Africa consists of 17 countries, and measures 7,500,000 km2 with a population estimated at 250 million inhabitants. The region’s geography is characterized by the following two major entities; the Sahel comprising Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Chad, and the Gulf of Guinea consisting of Benin, Cote d'Ivoire , Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo. It is increasingly becoming manifest that West Africa is vulnerable to climate change and variability and this have been traced it some of its physical and social –economic characteristics, which predispose it in such a way as to be disproportionally affected by the adverse effects of climatic variations. One of such is the impacts of sea level rise. Oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface with an average depth of 3,800m. This huge mass of water (3 billion m3) traps heat and slowly releases it, thereby regulating the outside temperature. The Climate influences the marine ecosystem which in turn influences the climate. Discussing West Africa has become very urgent in view of the recent scientific meeting on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark which ended with four scientists from the United States, Australia, France and Germany warning that sea levels are rising twice as previously forecasted by the United Nations two years ago. These scientists explained that rapidly melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are likely to push sea levels by a meter or more by 2100, swamping coastal cities and obliterating the living space of 600 million people who live in Deltas, low -lying areas and small Island states. West Africa is populated mostly by countries exposed to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Its sea front has been estimated to extend well over 15,000km including Cape Verde. The 17 countries of the region include only four landlocked states; Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. The region’s population concentrated on the coastal area (that is within 60km from the coastline), was estimated at 42.68million in 1994, that is a quarter of the coastal countries’. Major urban areas such as Nouakchott, Dakar, Conakry, Abidjan, Accra, Cotonou, Lome, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar etc are all located along the coastline. This area experiences continuous rapid demographic growth due to the impoverished countryside and the concentration of economic infrastructures and investments in large coastal urban areas. In Senegal, 90% of industrial units are located along the coastline, mainly in Dakar and its Suburbs. The same is true of countries such as The Gambia, Cote d'Ivoire, and Nigeria etc. Other countries with increasing populations, such as Bangladesh, Burma and Egypt could see large parts of their surface areas vanish. It has been estimated that a one-meter rise in sea level would swamp 17 percent of the country’s land mass. Pacific Islands such as Tuvalu, where 12,000 people live just a few feet above sea level, and the Maldives, would face complete obliteration. Rising sea levels is caused by the melting of the polar ice caps. Researchers now agree that this phenomenon is a real and significant problem, and calculate that, since the end of the 19th century, the average level of oceans has risen by about 12cm. The warmer the Earth becomes, the faster the polar ice cap melt and the faster the ocean level rise.
These levels increased from less than 2mm per year last century to a current rate of 2.5mm and could reach an annual 3.5mm by 2100. Depending on the various models, they could rise by 15 to 80 cm between now and 2100. Each time a forecast is reviewed and refined, it is in an upward direction. It was revealed that Greenland was losing 200-300 cubic kilometers of ice into the sea each year. This on its own is said to cause global sea level to rise more than a millimeter a year. This indicates amongst other factors that sea levels were now rising by more than 3mm a year-more than 50% faster than the average for the 20th century. In 2005, the first communities to be evacuated from sinking islands were moved out from Vanuatu in the Pacific. A similar fate awaits islanders in the atolls of Tuvalu and the Maldives. The great delta of the Niger, Ganges, the Nile and the Mississippi are also at risk, as are the densely populated coastlines. Coastal erosion is another problem. The West African coast has been particularly exposed for several decades; in Benin, some parts of the capital Cotonou had to be evacuated. The intrusion of salt water in the water table of coastal zones increases salinity in soils, resulting in fertility loss. Global warming can also transform the sea into a merciless agent of death, by intensifying cyclones and tornadoes. In this respect, the protective role of mangroves is becoming increasingly recognized, particularly when well maintained as it cushions the force of waves and the wind and also help combat coastal erosion. In the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, deforestation of mangroves has been driven demands for local energy. Many homesteads and local industries such as bakeries, fish smoking, restaurants and bean cake shops etc relies heavily on mangrove wood, which it said to burn even when relatively wet, in addition to producing good quality charcoal. The wood is said to provide special flavor to smoked fish hence the exploitation of the resource. Oil exploration, agriculture and wild fires are other deforestation drivers that have virtually led to the sheer defoliation and eventual death, of the mangroves of the Niger delta and its enormous natural resources endowments. In Guinea, rising sea levels linked to global warming is feared to likely result in stronger coastal currents, higher tides and sea encroachment of land. Guinea’s coastal region, home to West Africa’s largest and richest mangroves, would therefore bear the brunt of global climate change. The region’s entire economy is now under threat. It is feared that the main victims of all these climate variations would be people living near the coast. An estimate of 2 million people is likely to suffer income losses. In an effort to limit the foreseeable damage, Guinea has launched a national plan of action for climate change adaptation (PANA-CC), which sets out priorities, among them measures for protecting coastal areas. It outlines vigorous action for saving the mangroves and reforesting the region, planting teak and cashew trees. Faced with rising water levels, communities are being advised in Guinea to build sea walls and plant trees along the coast in order to protect the rice fields that have taken the place of the mangroves. Other recommendations include enforcing laws on coastal settlements and tackling pollution. For these adaptation measures to work, it is crucial that local people be provided with environmental education and prepared for possible catastrophes in the future. Efforts such as those in Guinea need to be supported and diffused into other countries in the region as quickly as is possibly. Funds and capacity building are no doubt required to achieve this!

Empowering local communities through carbon credits

Under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), carbon offset schemes are limited to afforestation and reforestation. Heavily forested countries like Brazil, Cameroon, Costa Rica, DR Congo, Gabon, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, which all together contain 80% of the world’s remaining tropical forests, formed the Forestry Eight to challenge the failure to extend CDM financing to the preservation of old-growth forests is unjust.
Nevertheless, in Nigeria, credits can therefore be earned by communities for planting new trees and conserving existing ones. The federal government can set the pace by incorporating this into the proposed new policy on forest management, and supporting farmers’ cooperatives, or even micro-finance banks to take the lead and arrange to certify a community’s carbon sequestration efforts through tree planting and conservation, apply for carbon payments on their behalf, and distribute funds back to farmers.
Making the proposed new policy on forest management to incorporate this thinking should be a priority. This has become vital as efforts are exerted to draft the forestry bill by the relevant authorities for onward submission to the National Assembly. The bill should mainstream payments for local communities conserving forests or planting new trees. This policy initiative and the bold proposals by the federal government to fully embark on a one billion tree planting project in order to check the effects of erosion, desertification and climate change is timely.Under the proposed forest policy, state governments as custodians of forest reserves, and the civil societies, individuals and the private sector are to be encouraged to get involved in the forest plantations in all the ecological zones in the country. The policy also seeks to compel the oil companies to establish forest plantation in the remediated oil spill sites for recovery of lost land. The trees would be required to mitigate the consequences of climate change, deforestation and land degradation. The prevailing menace of erosion in Anambra and other parts of the south-eastern states of Imo, Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu should be given priority in the new proposal. The urgency in this is derivable from the fact that lives and properties worth billions of naira have been ruined as a result. The realization that some parts of these states are also in the Niger Delta where environmental degradation is at its apogee makes urgency in this regard a life and death issue.
In considering South-eastern states, other communities in northern Nigeria where desertification is already a huge challenge deserve attention, in like measure as communities in the oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. This is against the glaring background that gas flaring as a component of climate change is already a huge challenge in that region. Ranked seventh in the world’s gas production capacity, Nigeria is said to have the highest gas reserve in Africa. However, it loses an estimated $2.5 billion annually to gas flaring, emitting about 2.5 billion standard cubic meters of carbon dioxide to the living environment.
Gas flaring in Nigeria currently accounts for 20 per cent of the world total. Nigeria flares more gas than any other country in the world. Approximately 75 percent of total gas production in Nigeria is flared, and about 95 percent of the “associated gas” which is produced as a by-product of crude oil extraction from reservoirs in which oil and gas are mixed. Flaring in Nigeria contributes a measurable percentage of the world’s total emissions of greenhouse gases; due to the low efficiency of many of the flares much of the gas is released as methane (which has a high warming potential), rather than carbon dioxide.
At the same time, the low-lying Niger Delta is particularly vulnerable to the potential effects of sea levels rising. The high rainfall in southern Nigeria in the rainy season leads to regular inundation of the low, poorly drained terrain of the Niger Delta, and an ecosystem characterized by the ebb and flow of water. Over the last few decades, however, the building of dams along the Niger and Benue Rivers and their tributaries has significantly reduced sedimentation and seasonal flooding in the delta.
Coupled with riverbank and coastal erosion, it is estimated that, if it continued at a constant rate, the result of diminished siltation in the delta would be the loss of about 40 percent of the inhabited land in the delta within thirty years. At the same time, since the construction of the dams, large numbers of people have settled in areas previously subject to extensive flooding; yet the progressive silting of the dams themselves, due to lack of maintenance, has meant that floods have begun to return to pre-dam levels, periodically inundating newly inhabited and cultivated areas.
Forests play a vital role in people’s lives through the provision of medicine, food, energy, income and acting as a safety net during droughts. Forests are also a source of environmental services such as providing clean water. At the household level, the forests supply timber for construction, firewood, fruits, and medicines. Some 20 to 35 percent of household income derives from forests and other environmental resources.
Poor forest management policies, including unrestricted logging, excessive harvesting of firewood and road construction contribute deforestation and consequently its failure to mitigate climate change. The world is said to be losing about 200km2 of forest a day, according to FAO, with forests in Africa being felled at twice the global average.
Forests are also crucial for safeguarding other ecosystems- they regulate water cycles, protect biodiversity and provide physical buffers against desertification, drought, land degradation and flash floods. The ripple effect could be incalculable.
Most importantly now that we are suffering the effects of climate change, forests have huge potential for offsetting it. Trees have the capacity to trap vast amounts of carbon which would otherwise escape into the atmosphere as CO2, one of the worst Green House Gas (GHG) offenders. A growing awareness of the role of forests in protecting against climate change has sparked a number of tree planting initiatives.
Forests play a very important role for they absorb and conserve carbon or CO2, the main gas responsible for the greenhouse effect and hence climate change. The Clean Development Mechanism Which was set up as part of the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gases offers incentives for reforestation in countries of the South. These latter are offered carbon credits in exchange.
It has been argued severally that African countries stand to gain billions of dollars through participating in the carbon market. Carbon market or carbon trading is a system whereby companies in developed countries or high energy consuming multi-nationals such as the oil companies in Nigeria are obligated to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by promoting the development of carbon reducing methods like tree planting.
In 2008, the United Nations launched a program that could be the foundation for a system in which rich countries would pay poor ones to slow climate change by protecting and planting forests. The new program, called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (UN-REDD) will assist nine developing countries, including Bolivia, Indonesia and Zambia, in establishing systems to monitor, assess and report forest cover. "Forests are worth more alive than dead ... and their ecosystem services and benefits are worth billions if not trillions of dollars if only we capture these in economic models," said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme.
However, providing incentives to conserve the forests that we already have could be just as important as planting or cultivating new trees. Carbon payments or credits can be an effective stimulus in reducing forest degradation, as they offer local communities a chance to help cut global carbon emissions, while increasing prospects for their own livelihoods.

Managing risks for optimal development

Firstly, as adverse climatic conditions persist, rural-urban migration explosion ensures, the population of Owerri city, Nigeria is expected to more than double between the years 2010 and 2070; growing from almost 1.5million to about 3.5million.That growth will result in twice the municipal water demand, which is projected to increase
from about 400,000 acre-feet per year in 2010 to 820,000 acre-feet per year in 2070. During the same period, the total water supply in Owerri is projected to decrease by 300,000 acre-feet per year due to various factors, such as reservoir siltation and reduced river flow etc. Faced with a growing population and diminishing water supply, Owerri will need to develop new water supplies and encourage alternative technologies such as Rain Water Harvesting to complement available water sources to support productive water use for the urban poor as a proactive risk management strategy.

Secondly, increasing changes in rainfall patterns as a result of climate change is already threatening local rice cultivation and making it pretty difficult to plough rice fields after the very first rain in Uboma. The resulting harvest shrinkage and diminishing income, is being further exacerbated by endemic water mismanagement and inappropriate land use by farmers which have led to massive soil erosion and loss of the soil’s productive capacity. Also, limited potential for dry season rice cultivation through soil and water conservation, and the non-employment of rain water harvesting technologies have continued to widen the increasing demand-supply gap for rice. The consequence is threatened food security and livelihood for hundreds of local rice farmers and people in Uboma and other parts of Nigeria that hitherto had rice supplies from these farms.

Thirdly, unpredictable high intensity rainfalls now persist in Port Harcourt and other Nigerian cities, resulting in mass flooding of neighborhoods. In these areas, one recurring problem is the overflow and clogging of latrines, as well as the erosion of pit and septic tank structures. The major problems arising from these are surface water contamination and loss of accessibility to the latrine during flood. Often, the most affected are the urban poor who live in densely populated neighborhoods where households share on-site latrines located outside their living rooms. For women in such areas, this is an issue as loss of access also translates to loss of privacy for defecation. The result is that most residents are now compelled to “wrap and throw” their excreta into runoffs; and further worsening the health risks and retarding local gains in sanitation coverage.

Often perceived as “acts of God,” natural catastrophes have frequently been overlooked in policy planning.
On an aggregate level, the consequence of this limited planning is a serious challenge to socioeconomic
development as scarce funds are diverted from longer-term development objectives to short-term
emergency relief and reconstruction needs. Despite recent calls to mainstream Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) little effort has been exerted on how such resiliency principles can be mainstreamed into planning procedures for development projects such water supplies, agriculture and even infrastructure as cited above etc.
In this regards therefore, a new analysis tool that measures how resilient a household is under severe stress will help design aid for beneficiaries based on the extent of their vulnerability. The concept was developed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the Florence University, in Italy, using data from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). "The Palestinians have been living under incredible stress for a long time; everyone is vulnerable there. Despite that, they continue to live and work in that situation - they are a particularly resilient community," said Luca Alinovi, a senior economist at FAO, explaining why they used the OPT to develop the tool. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics also provides "incredible amounts of data - the bureau conducts at least two to three surveys every year, unlike most countries," he added, which contributed to refining the analysis tool. The early warning systems approach tries to predict crises, while the resilience framework tries to assess the current state of health of a food system and hence its ability to withstand shocks should they occur. Resilience in humanitarian terms is a "measure of the ability of a system to withstand stresses and shocks in an uncertain world" and has only recently started being applied as a concept in food security issues, according to a paper by Alinovi and his collaborators on the project. "The idea is that this concept could complement the early warning systems (EWS) approach. The EWS tries to predict crises, while the resilience framework tries to assess the current state of health of a food system and hence its ability to withstand shocks should they occur," said the paper. Data is collected according to the five pillars of the conceptual framework of the tool: existing social safety net, access to public services, assets, income and food access, households' capacity to adapt, and stability of food supply. The data is then converted into numerical variables, which help present the level of resilience on a logarithmic scale. "The level of resilience, as calculated, can help determine the kind of interventions needed in acute food shortages - cash or food aid - in that particular country," said Alinovi. "It also helps design long-term aid interventions." The FAO plans to implement the tool in Kenya and perhaps Sudan in the coming months. Also, in a series of three country study exercises carried out by the World Bank in 2002; the incorporation of the probability of loss from natural disasters into a flexible macroeconomic modeling platform was central. In doing so, it first estimates annual expected losses due to natural catastrophes for each country. The results are an annual expected loss of $320 million a year for Argentina (representing 0.025% of capital stock), $64 million a year for Honduras (0.49% of capital stock), and $22 million a year for Nicaragua (0.43% of capital stock).
The country exercises then estimate the macroeconomic impacts of these direct losses. The Argentina example identifies potential sources of post-disaster financing and displays probabilistic projections of the macro-economic impacts of the diverted funds. The Honduras and Nicaragua examples consider the case in which access to post-disaster financing may be limited. These exercises demonstrate that an inability to finance probabilistic annual losses to capital stock can stagnate expected future economic performance. The Nicaragua analysis extends the Honduras exercise by examining the impact of natural catastrophes and limited post-disaster financing on the poor. The results of the last exercise show that an inability to finance probabilistic annual losses to capital stock can stall or defeat poverty reduction measures.

Finally, the study examines how the modeling for each country can be used to assist policy makers interested in
exploring alternative funding sources for post-disaster reconstruction, like catastrophe insurance.
Three central messages emerged in the preparation of this study. The first lesson learned is that planning
for the impacts of catastrophes is possible. The country examples illustrate how these probable losses can be incorporated into development planning. The second lesson is that the ability to finance losses following a catastrophe is crucial to recovery. Hence, planning for catastrophes is also essential.

The major policy recommendation that emerges from this study is that risk management must be a formal
component of development planning for countries with high natural catastrophe exposure. Through
planning, countries can reduce some of the negative impacts on development and improve the situation of
the poor during and after crises. Such risk management involves three major steps: risk identification, mitigation and financing.

Countries must identify potential sources and assess potential costs of natural catastrophe risk. For example, the potential effects of natural catastrophes should be included in infrastructure investment decisions, in Country Assistance Strategies (CAS) of the World Bank, and in the debt repayment projections at the core of Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) proposals. Countries must weigh the costs and benefits of mitigation and risk financing measures. The evaluation of risk management measures is particularly important for two areas: planning for the protection of infrastructure and the livelihoods of the poor. The international donor community should provide greater incentives for proactive risk management in countries affected by natural catastrophes. In particular, it should focus on the incentives and support necessary to foster risk identification, mitigation and risk transfer programs.

Who becomes the role model; the pastor or the politician?

A story was recently told in a newspaper article by Professor Ernest Emenyonu about twenty-four post graduate students in a Masters course in Economics at a Federal University. They were in their last semester prior to graduation. But because of a strike action, the semester was extended, but unfortunately their professor’s date of retirement fell two months before the end of the extended semester. The professor therefore told his students that he was not sure if the university would let him finish the semester. So, if they wanted him to submit passing grades for them before he retired, they should pay him some kind of compensation. The students collected and gave him N250, 000.00. However as fate would have it the university later allowed him to not only to finish the semester, but offered him contract appointment after retirement; yet he (the professor) pocketed the students’ money.
There are many other similar stories that pain the heart. All these are daily dealings in our so called higher institutions. Professor Emenyonu had described these dirty realities as a cancerous disease that has attacked our institutions of higher learning, and is fast permeating veins. According to him, if the virus is not checked with a stronger antidote or vaccine, these might do to Nigerian education at tertiary levels what AIDS has done to the human frame world-wide. So combating it is a matter of life and death in all seriousness.
However, another embarrassing dimension to the extant ugly is the diversion of university funds by Vice Chancellors. I was ashamed to read a news story captioned: EFCC detains VC, bursar over N500m fraud. The news had it that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had arrested and detained the Vice Chancellor of the Imo State University, Owerri, Professor I.C Okonkwo, the bursar, Mrs U.A Nwogu and an administrative officer, over an alleged N500 million fraud.In the story, the EFCC spokesperson, Mr. Femi Babafemi, had confirmed that the trio were arrested last week and were being detained at the commission’s facility in Abuja. It was learnt that the commission’s boss, Mrs Farida Waziri (AIG rtd), had ordered that a charge be preferred against the suspects. It was also reported that a raid of Okonkwo’s home by the commission’s operatives led to the recovery of cash in different currencies running into several millions.A source gave the recovered cash as N4.5 million, $11,200, 700 Euros, among others. He was said to have kept another N25 million which he allegedly collected from graduating students without receipt, with one if his friends. Also reportedly recovered from his home during the raid were shares certificates of blue-chip companies, cash deposit of huge sums in his name and bank documents showing that he has nine accounts domiciled in four banks.
Though this case is still unfolding, and the culpability of those arrested yet to be proved, one is very much surprised that the rat race for money is as rampant amongst the educated, the intellectuals and revered as it is amongst the uneducated, the rascals and even the mechanics. In this race conscience and integrity takes the backseat. In Nigerian university, the supposed citadel of leaning, greed and hunger for ostentatious living is the norm amongst most lecturers and dons. Everybody wants to live big and, well beyond his income. Nobody bothers about learning, research and development. What now matter are promotion, position, and wealth.
The bribe for budget scandal that rocked the Federal University of Technology Owerri and the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which led to the sacking of then Minister of Education and the Vice Chancellor of FUTO, as well as leading to the resignation of the then Senate President Adolf Wabara was another sour thumb in our polity. Though all those concerned had pleaded not guilty, but none, not even any one of them has proven his innocence.
I cannot agree less with Reuben Abati that greed is the main obstacle to the leadership process in Nigeria. According to him “It works out in form of an obsession with the self and an abiding contempt for society and its needs. The primitive acquisitiveness of the Nigerian leadership elite has been without regard for the objective conditions of the people: people who wallow in abject poverty. The poverty in the land is so bad, it is evident in the rising cost of food items, the failure of public infrastructure, the disconnection between the country's enormous wealth in terms of resources and the filth on our streets, and the rebellious streak of armed robbers and assassins”.
The result is that today, the Nigerian society is adrift, as almost everybody in leadership opportunity with budgetary allocation and revenue generating channels is behaving like “goal keepers”; grabbing and stealing and bending the rules to protect their personal interests. This is the situation in most churches and other places. Pastors and Reverends all have their eyes on lucre, same for both elected and unelected politicians, taxi drivers, civil servants, masons, traders and sadly university dons etc.
A former Vice Chancellor of the same Imo State University today lives in one of the most imposing and expensive houses in Owerri, yet this was a man we all knew before he became a Vice Chancellor. We also knew how much he earned as a Vice Chancellor, as well as his frail research and publication credentials. One wonders how he made the wealth that is the order in his home today.
Admission periods are now bazaar periods for those at the top from HODs to deans and of course the VCs etc. The result is so bad that nobody can easily give you the number of students actually studying in many of the universities. The way most of the universities are being run frustrates learning and research. Role models can hardly be found in Nigerian universities anymore as rat race for lucre takes the centre stage.
I am pissed that many of the men and women who go into public office in Nigeria are usually persons who used to be defenders of public morality, humble members of the community. But as soon as they are given the opportunity to control financial budgets they simply go berserk, and then grow a fertile ego.
Nothing can be more humiliating for a man or woman who had been promoted as a role model and as an achiever to be put in the dock and asked to explain how he stole or mismanaged resources entrusted to his care. I am pained that even university dons have joined the rat race; perhaps Prof. Okonkwo may need to prove me wrong. I am sad because I know what it costs in cash, time and effort to achieve academic heights. Why would university dons seek to grab all the money in order to hobnob with other less endowed?
Who then becomes the model, the pastor or the politician, who?