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Showing posts with label Food Insecurity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food Insecurity. Show all posts

Monday, May 15, 2017

Nigeria: A nation of grass-cutters?

At this era of recession in Nigeria, its alarming how the political elites are turning the agony of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), into grass-cutting enterprise. REMMY NWEKE in this report for NaijaAgroNet x-rays how this is contributing to food insecurity in the IDPs, north-east and malnutrition nationwide.
Man in the centre of grass-cutting deal, David Babachir Lawal
Mere hearing of the word grass-cutter for a layman, one is made to believe it is a rodent with scientific name of Thryonomysswinderianus, although known in some quarters as the marsh cane-rat, ground hog and given its relationship from the family of Hystricomorphaequally known as porcupine family.

But literally speaking, the word grass-cutters have since assumed a different meaning in the Nigerian context, at least in the last six months, due to the ugly incident of discovery of huge sums of money allegedly appropriated for the so-called cutting of grass in the troubled north-eastern Nigeria, following the lingering Boko Haram insurgency.

At first, it was a whistle blowing effort by a Senator, APC Kaduna-South, Mr. Sani Shehu for this word to assume a different dimension, because according to him, every day since the President Muhammdu Buhari APC-led government assumed power at the federal, there have series of fund said to have been donated for the rehabilitation of families who have been sacked from their homes by a group of terrorist, Boko Haram, but it seems the effect remain invisible both in the camps and lives of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Malnourished baby Zeinab and mother in IDP camp ... Courtesy UNICEF Nigeria
50,000 IDP children malnourished due to food insecurity:
From the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) there are estimated 50,000 children in the IDP camp that  are malnourished, aside the 2.5million suffering from malnutrition across Nigeria, due to food insecurity, according to the Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Omar Abdi, who revealed this recently in Maiduguri after a tour of camps, both within and outside the Borno State capital.

Abdi who was in Nigeria with UNICEF drawn from their offices in New York, Dakar and Abuja on-the-spot needs assessment tour in the affected population, said they have scaled up programmes in working with other partners and supporting government efforts.

“So far the nutrition community has reached 12,000 children that are severely malnourished per month. We need to quadruple that number in order to reach all of the children that are severely malnourished. If they are not treated quickly, they are at risk of dying both from malnutrition and from other diseases such as diarrhoea and malaria and so on,” he said, stressing they are also concerned about the education and access to clean water for thousands of children affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria.

Oslo humanitarian conference for Nigeria:
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had disclosed that since the start of the conflict in 2009, over 20,000 people have been killed, countless women and girls abducted and children drafted as suicide bombers into Boko Haram.  Just as some 2.1 million people fled their homes, at the height of the conflict, resulting in some 1.8 million of them currently internally displaced and 0.2 million in neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

OCHA also pointed out that in the three most affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe   almost 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, over 50 per cent of whom are children, claiming that in newly accessible areas vulnerable host populations are in critical need of humanitarian interventions including food, water, sanitation, protection, education, shelter and health services.

This, NaijaAgroNet reports, no doubt precipitated the Oslo Humanitarian Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region in February 2017, which raised $672 million to help people in need. While the highlights showed pledges of US$458 million for 2017 and $214 million for 2018 and beyond as announced by 14 donors, the conference gave voice to people affected by the conflict and crisis with agreement to address longer-term development needs and seek durable solutions to crises. 

IDPs in government?:
While the likes of Oslo humanitarian conference for Nigeria was ongoing, at home, highly  placed government officials were being accused of pilfering the little sent or contributed for the resuscitation of IDPs in the North-East, in what looks like their own share of the IDP largesse.

For the records, the Senate had accused the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir David Lawal, an indigene of one the affected states of Adamawa who was appointed to lead the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE).
A cross-section of IDPs in a camp courtesy Hamza AhA

Allegedly that M/S Josmon Technologies Limited was awarded the contract on 8th March, 2016 under the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), which handles the procurement of relief materials including food and non-food items, medical equipment and project vehicles for IDPS in the North-East, worth N220 million.

The contract suspected to be bogus was for the removal of wild grass along river channel and the provision of 115 hectares of simplified village irrigation in Yobe State, which led to subsequent bank transfers to another firm, identified as Rholavision Engineering Limited, belonging to Mr. Lawal. According to findings by the Senate committee on PINE between March and September 2016, some lodgments were made to Rholavision account at EcoBank, along Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna, with account numbers 0182001809 and 1180010559651 respectively.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that Rholavision Engineering Limited has its head office on No. 36, Gobarau Road, Kaduna, with registered address at 26, Ahmed Dantanko Road, Kaduna. Although industry watchers have been wondering the immediate connection of IDPs with grass removal at river channel, otherwise refer to as grass-cutting. Mr. Lawal had denied any involvement or wrongdoing as far as PINE contract is concerned and was even cleared by the initial inquiry by the Presidency on this matter.

Prior to Mr. Lawal taking over, PINE, NaijaAgroNet reports was being run by a Senior Special Assistant to the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki. But Lawal explained to Channels TV that there is a Permanent Secretary who runs PINE and at SGF office, there are 23 of such agencies; before his office decided to prepare IDPs by way of guaranteeing that they are able to engage in productive work before they were pushed out, which entails rebuild the schools that were burnt, rebuild the police stations and barracks so people can returns part of confidence-building.

Yet, as said by Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East committee, chaired by Senator Sani Shehu, some things went awry with the job specification, including that the job was 100 per cent completed, amount approved for the contract was N272,524,356.02; with N248,939,231.00 paid so far, leaving a balance sum of N23,585,125.02 for contingencies.

Senator Sani Shehu
These allegations, NaijaAgroNet gathered, showed that on March 29 and 30, 2016, Josmon Technologies Limited paid N10,000,000.00 each day at five instalments, which amounted to N50 million daily to Rholavision  Technologies Limited. Also, on March 31, 2016, Josmon Technologies Limited also made transactions twice to Rholavision Technologies Limited at N10 million, amounting to N20 million. The same company on April 1, 2016, paid N10 million to Rholavision Technologies Limited five times, amounting to N50 million respectively. Just like on April 4, 2016, Josmon Technologies Limited made some transactions thrice to the Rholavision Technologies Limited at N10 million twice and N5 million, amounting to N25 million, in that order.

13 bank accounts with 1 BVN:
Equally, on August 22, NaijaAgroNet gathered that N20 million was paid under the name, JMT Global Technologies to Rholavision Technologies Limited, with reference number 99822220011865741 and on September 8, 2016, Josmon Technologies Limited paid N10 million to the same company, with reference number 999222201339451, while on September 9, 2016, payments were made twice, with the first at N10 while the second one same day was N35 million. Outside the N220 million paid by Josmon, there was another debit transaction of N53 million, whereas all the 13 bank accounts shared the same Bank Verification Number (BVN) linked to Mr. Lawal.

Following the indictment of Mr. Lawal and several unhonoured invitations for public hearing, the Senate urged President Muhammadu Buhari to remove him from office, which was rebuffed by the Executive, rather it wrote the Senate absolving Lawal of any wrong doing through the office of Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari.

NaijaAgroNet equally gathered that the Senate confirmed Rholavision was incorporated as an Information Technology (IT)companyby Mr. Lawal in 1990 and has handled a N233 million bush-clearing contract in the north-east in 2016. While money was paid for the contract, the work was not done, insisting that as at the time of awarding the contract in March 2016, Mr. Lawal was still a director in the company and that he only resigned in September of that year and was still signatory as at February 15, 2017 to the company’s account, according to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) evidence, which contravened Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officials as contained in the 1999 Constitution.

PMB treating corruption with insecticide and deodorant:
Reacting to the absolution of Mr. Lawal indictment by FG, claiming lack of fair hearing among others, the Kaduna Central Senator, Shehu Sani, dismissed as “false” President Muhammadu Buhari’s claims on a Senate report suggested a defense smack of double standards.He maintained that seven members, not three as claimed by the president, signed the report and Lawal was invited to appear before, adding that SGF’s office secretary received and acknowledged the invite in addition to advert placed in three newspapers for Mr. Lawal among other parties involved to appear before the Senate committee.

“Corruption in the Judiciary and others is treated with insecticide while corruption in the government is treated with deodorant,” asserted Sani, expressed concern that President Buhari’s letter was full of misinformation and falsehood.

Senate report based on evidences of bank transactions as well as Central Bank of Nigeria, Corporate Affairs Commission and Bureau of Public Procurement documents showed that Mr. Lawal superintended the conversion of the agency to a criminal, and bizarre money making enterprise, by awarding contracts to cronies whose firms did not pass the requirements set by law, just as beneficiaries paid parts of the proceeds of the contracts to Mr. Lawal’s company and his private account in tranches.

After receiving payments from PINE, at least five companies separately paid about N450 million to the Eco Bank account (182001809) of Rholavision Engineering Limited owned by Mr. Lawal according to CAC and self-admission, and his private account (0003004417) with Diamond Bank, bank statements showed.

NaijaAgroNet further gathered that on August 8, 2016, JMT Global Technologies Ltd transferred N30 million from its Zenith Bank account 114357188 to Rholavision, having been awarded  eight contracts for “rehabilitations/renovations in Adamawa” State for the sum of N199.4 million. While Messrs Adamawa Boreholes and Drilling Companies Ltd, transferred N18 million to Mr. Lawal’s company, after clinching N54.8 million contract to renovate seven classrooms at Yeskule Girls Secondary School, Michika Adamawa State.Likewise, Barde Brothers Multi-Services Limited which was also awarded seven contracts to renovate classrooms in Adamawa State for N145 million returned N71 million to Mr. Lawal’s company account on October 10, 2016, and another N13 million between July 7, 2016 and September 9, 2016 to his private account.

Robbery in high places:
Months later, President Muhammadu Buhari after returning from his initial medical vacation for 2017 suspended Mr. Lawal and Director of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Mr. Ayo Oke with a three-man panel headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo leading the panel. This Senator Sani said was commendable and pointing out that there is no time yet to jubilate because a mighty mortal is caught in the trap of his fate, “we are neither saints nor angels, but we have a duty to raise a card and blow the whistle.”

A commentator who does not want his name in print, told NaijaAgroNet that the case of Mr. Lawal and grass-cutters, shows clearly how political officer holders either elected or appointed disregard the law of the land and interest of suffering masses of Nigeria, wondering if that was the best way to fight corruption. In the contrary, an average Nigerian, he said, gets between 5-10 years in jail for stealing bread to feed their families and for stealing 1000 naira to purchase food. The annoying part, our source lamented is that, “while they were stealing the money for those in terrible situations, they were asking people to donate.”

Another concerned Nigerian, Mr. Kunle Ajayi, said that if this Lawal can perpetuate this wicked act with PINE, “You can imagine the level of heist in other aspects of governance under his office.The guy is a mob boss not SGF.” And for Fida Gzama, until Nigerians realise that alphabet APC or PDP do not govern Nigeria but highly corrupt and wicked Nigerians no matter the party, nothing will change. This group of public office looters will still see us as noise makers, mumu and highly gullible set of human beings on earth.

Even if these contracts were “awarded under the principle of emergency procurement stipulated in section 43 (i) and (ii) but absolute disregard for sub-section (iii) of the same section 43 of the Public Procurement Act,” it lacks understanding for human, especially those from the same North-East to constitute further problems, not minding the level of suffering by the people moreso the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or was it the case of “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

No matter what may, we are human and the plight of IDPs and attendance life challenges especially the food insecurity should be upper most in our minds, as Nigeria hope that Osibanjo’s panel will lead to full investigations by requisite agencies of government on this matter like the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

Above all, the case of Lawal et all, should be a moral lesson for all serving and potential political office holders as summed up in the Eastern Nigerian adage that everyday could be for the thief but one day is for the owner.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

7.3m Yemenis suffer food insecurity, nutrition deterioration - UN

The Yemen’s food crisis has deteriorated, according to the United Nations (UN) agencies who are not calling for urgent assistance to avert reaching a catastrophic situation, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The number of food insecure people in Yemen, NaijaAgroNet gathered, has risen by 3 million in seven months, with an estimated 17.1 million people now struggling to feed themselves, according to a joint assessment by three UN agencies.

Of the 17.1 million food insecure people, about 7.3 million are considered to be in need of emergency food assistance.

The preliminary results of the Emergency Food Security and Nutrition Assessment (EFSNA) show that food security and nutrition conditions are deteriorating rapidly due to the ongoing conflict.

More than two-thirds of Yemen's population of 27.4 million people now lack access to food and consume an inadequate diet. 

The EFSNA is a joint survey conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) in cooperation with the authorities in Yemen. It is the first national, household-level assessment conducted in the country since the escalation of the conflict in mid-March 2015.

Rates of acute malnutrition were found to have passed the "critical" threshold in four governorates, while agricultural production is falling across the country.

"The speed at which the situation is deteriorating and the huge jump in food insecure people is extremely worrying," said Salah Hajj Hassan, FAO Representative in Yemen. "Bearing in mind that agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the majority of the population, FAO is urgently calling for funds to scale up its agricultural livelihoods support to farmers, herders and fishing communities to improve their access to food in 2017 and prevent the dire food and livelihood security situation from deteriorating further."

"We are witnessing some of the highest numbers of malnutrition amongst children in Yemen in recent times. Children who are severely and acutely malnourished are 11 times more at risk of death as compared to their healthy peers, if not treated on time. Even if they survive, these children risk not fulfilling their developmental potentials, posing a serious threat to an entire generation in Yemen and keeping the country mired in the vicious cycle of poverty and under development," said Dr Meritxell Relano, UNICEF Representative in Yemen.

"The current level of hunger in Yemen is unprecedented, which is translating into severe hardship and negative humanitarian consequences for millions of Yemenis, particularly affecting vulnerable groups," said Stephen Anderson, WFP Country Director in Yemen. "Tragically, we see more and more families skipping meals or going to bed hungry, while children and mothers are slipping away with little to sustain themselves. WFP is urgently calling for support to provide food for the seven million people who are severely food insecure and may not survive this situation for much longer."

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Friday, May 6, 2016

SOS: Ethiopia farmers need $10m to provide seeds

In less than five weeks to the main cropping season in Ethiopia, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has called for urgent funding to the tune of $10 million, to help farmers sow their fields and prevent drought-hit areas of the country from falling deeper into hunger and food insecurity, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to FAO, if seeds are not delivered in time, help will be too late to secure a decent harvest from the imminent meher season, which produces 85 per cent of the nation's food supply.

FAO also said that while the food security situation is worsening, the overall funding response to the crisis has so far been disappointing, with just 15 percent of FAO's 2016 appeal for Ethiopia covered.

"The meher season will be critical to improving families' food security and self-sufficiency in 2016. Seed distributions allowing farmers to plant crops and produce food must be a humanitarian priority," said the agency's country representative Amadou Allahoury Diallo, stressing that decreasing dependence on external humanitarian assistance will diminish the costs of food aid.

Therefore, FAO said, some $10 million is needed within the next two weeks to distribute seeds to Ethiopian families at risk of hunger and losing their livelihoods.

NaijaAgroNet recalls that about 10.2 million people in Ethiopia are food insecure following successive crop failures and widespread livestock deaths caused by the El Niño-induced drought since early 2015. With this year's delayed and erratic spring rains, the situation may become worse in the most affected areas, particularly in the north.

Even as Ethiopia's government has already dedicated considerable resources to the El Niño response and is working closely with FAO to help ramp up joint efforts.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Monday, October 19, 2015

Ethiopia requires N118.75b to tackle food insecurity

Ethiopian government and humanitarian agencies, has said that the country urgently needs $596 million, about N118.75 billion to address food insecurity for the remainder of the year adding that only $258 million has been received in donor contributions, NaijaAgroNet reports.

"A lot of the funds provided earlier in the year are already spent and key sectors such as supplemental food, livelihoods and agriculture are critically short of funds," said the appeal by the Ethiopian government and humanitarian organisations operating in the locountry

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSN ), an organisation that provides timely information on food insecurity recently said that the El Niño phenomenon  contributed to suppression of the long rains limiting agricultural and pastoral potential, NaijaAgroNet reports.

Regions of the world adversely affected include northern East Africa, Central America and the Caribbean.

"These impacts are contributing to acute food insecurity for approximately four million people in these regions," said the US-funded organisation.

A statement by the group added that the most affected areas in the Horn of Africa are northern Ethiopia and eastern Sudan, which have been experiencing shortages due to poor rainfall between June and September.

"In northern Ethiopia and eastern Sudan, late rains with intermittent dry spells contributed to reduced area planted, late planting, and households planting shorter cycle crops. Forage and water availability are significantly below average," it further said.

Cyriacus Nnaji/ED,OPs
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Friday, April 3, 2015

Mechanised farming solution to food insecurity says Ellen Sirleaf

Mechanised farming has been identified as the solution to food insecurity in Liberia, according to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, reports NaijaAgroNet.

In a nation-wide address recently in Liberia and monitored by NaijaAgroNet, President Sirleaf noted that it is only through large scale mechanized farming operations and agro- industrial operations which focuses on emerging small and medium size entities is the only way Liberia can attain food security.

She observed that Liberia as an agrarian nation must increasingly shift to agriculture to ensure that the nation moves away from the old system of enclave extractive industries.
“We must aim at a higher potential for import and export diversification through stimulation of production in a select few of our traditional tree crops such as rubber, oil palm and cocoa, she said.

NaijaAgroNet also learnt that she reminded Liberians that the private sector must become the driving force of the economy with Liberia’s entrepreneurs playing their rightful role, adding, that this can only be achieved with the support of citizens by promoting and buying products made in Liberia as well as through the payment of rightful taxes.

President Sirleaf then pledged her government’s commitment in doing its part in establishing a peaceful and easy business environment by reducing the bureaucratic hurdles and at the same time ensuring that tax regimes are fair and allow businesses to expand.

Cyriacus Nnaji/GEE

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pix: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Monday, November 4, 2013

12m South African households may go hungry- President Zuma

The South African President Jacob Zuma   has said that some 12 million households in South Africa are vulnerable to food insecurity and may go hungry.

President  Zuma  made this disclosure  in his annual address to the National Council of Provinces in Soshanguve, Pretori, monitored by NaijaAgroNet and assured that in line with the country's the National Development Plan (NDP), the government will take a number of steps to improve food security.

“These steps include the expanded use of irrigation, security of land tenure, especially for women and youths, and the promotion of nutrition education,’’ Zuma said.

The NDP, which is the country’s economic blueprint, has set out various methods and targets to get rid of poverty, reduce unemployment and abolish inequality by 2030, while the government
launched the Fetsa Tlala food production programme to eradicate hunger and promote food security.

The government has also provided two billion rand (about N31 billion) for this financial year for farmer support programmes while 72 per cent of it will be used for food production to support Fetsa Tlala.

Under this arrangement, NaijaAgroNet  noted that about 100,000 hectares of land will be put into production through the programme to be supervised by the departments of agriculture in the provinces.


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Pix:South African President Jacob Zuma

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mahama advocates roots, tubers solution to end food insecurity

Anthony Nwakaegho/NaijaAgroNet

Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama has advocated the use of roots and tubers to alleviate poverty and end food insecurity in the rural Africa.

Mahama who was represented by Ghana Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology Innovation, Mohammed Alfa,  gave the charge at the 12th symposium organized by the International Society for Tropical Root Crops-Africa Branch (ISTRC-AB) in Accra, Ghana and stressed that root and tuber crops such as sweet potato, cassava, potato(Irish) Andean roots and tubers, yams and aroids provide great opportunities for long term poverty alleviation and food security, more than any staple food produced in the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions.

NaijaAgroNet learnt from the President that the growth rate of the population in Sub-Sahara Africa which was put at 2.4 per cent as compared to 1.3 per cent in non African countries had brought pressure on farmers to produce food at affordable prices.

He explained that even though root crops were vital for both food security and income generation, especially, for poor rural farmers and women, and often grown on marginal lands, production was mainly for home consumption and the local market.

NaijaAgroNet noted the submission of President Mahama when he said that efforts by the private sector to commercialise these crops had been minimal and ineffective and added that “the challenge had been how to commercialise and improve the competiveness of root and tuber crop products in the markets, whilst safeguarding the interest of women and small-holder farmers who derived significant incomes through the production and processing of thes,e crops.

The ISTRC-AB President, Dr Nzola Mahungu, who is also the Country Representative for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in DR Congo said, “Root and tuber crops play an important role in ensuring food security in Africa, and we must tap the opportunities of these crops.” 


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pix:Ghana President, John Dramani Mahama

Sunday, June 30, 2013

CAADP framework to curb food insecurity - Bwalya

Head of the NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Mr. Martin Bwalya, has said that CAADP framework was set up to curb food insecurity on the continent.

He made this assertion to a high-level meeting of African and International Leaders in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, recently tagged “Toward African Renaissance: Renewed Partnership for Unified Approach to End Hunger in Africa by 2025 within the CAADP Framework.”

NaijaAgroNet gathered that Bwalya told his audience that by design, NEPAD and CAADP are political response to the poverty and food insecurity challenge, noting that chronic food insecurity and hunger is critical hindrance to socio-economic growth and development of the continent and could amount to restlessness in the geopolitics call Africa.

He pointed that that it was the Compelling context that led to setting up of NEPAD and CAADP respectively.
As at 2000, Bwalya informed NaijaAgroNet that an estimated 40 per cent of people in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) lived below the poverty line of less than a Dollar per day. While the income and human poverty saw to the rise of social and economic inequality, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report of 2002, which stated that Africa is the only continent that has its 1/3 of its entire population living in chronic hunger.
He also noted that between 1980 and year 2000, Africa need for food and delivery requirement tripled in food emergencies, thus, it was a compelling context that led to the emergence of NEPAD and CAADP, lamenting however, that by 2000, there was no African country in the high group of Human Development Index (HDI) measure.

“No African countries in the high HDI group, small number in the medium HDI group; and majority in the low HDI group,” he said, that is 32 out of 35 countries in Africa.

In order to sustain CAADP momentum, he said, less focus must be on the issue of public financing and hence development aid, decrying weak inter-ministerial and inter-sectorial coordination and multiplicity of initiatives.

Africa, Bwalya said, still have food insecure and high levels of hunger and malnutrition, stressing that low agric productivity has resulted in low rural incomes.

Remmy Nweke

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Save Africa from hunger -IITA boss

Sanginga, IITA Director General

The Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga, has urged world leaders not to relent their efforts towards the fight against food insecurity in Africa.
Sanginga expressed the institution’s gratitude over the improvements recorded in agricultural productivity in the past affirming that there are still more to be done as regards food security in the continent.
He noted that efforts should be doubled due to the spiraling growth rate of the continent’s population and the degrading soil which does not work towards improving agricultural productivity.
IITA revealed to NaijaAgroNet that the Sub-Saharan Africa’s population growth rate is 2.4 per cent, a rate which is high compared to 1.3 per cent of non-African countries.
“Clearly there is much work to be done in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Dr. Sanginga emphasised that food security attainment is huge with increasing challenge and increase in total production which is at the expense of natural resource base.
According to the IITA boss, there is the need to adopt sustainable intensification of agricultural production practices to conserve and recycle soil nutrient which will in turn reduce the need to clear new land for agricultural use.
Approaches to concentrate on towards addressing the issue of food insecurity, Dr. Sanginga said should include increase in agricultural productivity, food availability and its safety.
He stressed that the agriculture sector’s overall performance must all be increased against the growing urban population, uncertain effects of climate change, increased in demand for energy as well as disease pandemics.
He also commended the renewed attention to agriculture by leaders in the continent which is producing positive results, and urged for more commitment of resources to the sector, and that IITA is always ready to partner with any organisation towards improving lives of Africans.
IITA, one of the world’s leading research partners in finding solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and poverty has several awards for using research for development (R4D) in addressing the developmental needs of tropical countries, and had since inception worked with partners to improve crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture.

Yinka Awosanya
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Lagdo Dam flood disaster: Matters Arising

A water-submerged settlement

Water is one of the gifts of God to mankind and other living creatures.  It comes in form of rainfall, oceans, rivers, streams, or lakes etc.  Because of its indispensability to human existence, the amount and nature of water available determines the flow of development.  It’s importance is such that some school of thought believe that “water has no enemy”.  One of them was Nigeria’s Afrobeat musician, late Fela Anikulapo Kuti who dedicated one of his sound tracks to this belief.  However, there are complex patterns of water uses with far-reaching consequences.
In Africa, almost all major rivers are shared by two or more countries.  Altogether, water management represents one of the region’s most urgent development challenges. This requires developing laws, regulations and institutions to manage their water resources in ways that are economically productive, socially acceptable and environmentally sustainable.
In water resources management, the conservation and management of wetlands and floodplains are critical because of their productive capacity. The World Commission on Dams (WCD) has observed that the rights of downstream communities have historically been ignored. The present flood disaster in Nigeria is another case in point. Flood is currently ravaging many of such communities spread across Kogi, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Anambra, Enugu, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa and Imo States.
This particular flood is a consequence of over-release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroun.  The operational incompetence or negligence by the Camerounian dam operatives and the passivity of successive Nigerian governments have undermined the livelihoods of over 400 vulnerable downstream communities across the country.
As the flood rages, it is wrecking havoc in every conceivable way, on both great and small.  Even the President’s country home was not spared. Poverty and environmental degradation lie both at the beginning and the end of the chain. Hundreds of people have lost their lives; about 88,740 have been displaced and property worth billions of Naira submerged. Food insecurity is increasing as numerous live-stocks and farmlands have been overtaken by flood. Recent reports reveal that some oil fields have been submerged as well.  Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss.
A visit to some of the displaced people’s camps revealed that they are far from being rehabilitated. What you see is, a people who have lost all their possessions and are at the verge of  losing their own lives should a serious epidemic break out now. Their over-crowded tents are mostly situated in school premises, church compounds, and uncompleted buildings. Expectedly, this environmental challenge has resulted to social and psychological problems.
There have been reported cases of sexual assault and rape, possibly due to desperate lifestyles prevalent in a state of anomie. Also, due to heightened trauma, some women have gone into forced labour. Meanwhile, we are yet to hear of deployment of counselors to the camps.
The affected Nigerians are earnestly waiting to feel the impact of the huge funds released by the president to affected states. They are also anxiously waiting to see the extent to which the 34-member Presidential Committee on flood will ameliorate their pains. Elected political office holders from the affected areas should seize the hour to compassionately touch their people. They should address the problem on ground with real solutions.  Corporate bodies, billionaires around the corridors of power, national awardees, and indeed all well meaning Nigerian must arise.
It is time to be our brothers’ keeper!
This flood disaster raises a lot of critical questions; when shall our governments begin to heed expert warnings and adequately prepare for emergencies? What are the governors of the downstream/coastal states waiting for before they will draw-out and commence implementation of clear-cut master plans? What is the National Assembly waiting for before they pass the water resources bill (and other key sector bills) before it?
The bill, if passed, will kick start water sector reforms. Right laws, political will, adequate and monitoring mechanisms are crucial for meaningful negotiation, contribution and collaboration with neighboring countries so that water usage upstream does not affect our downstream communities again. Let us arise, with hearts of servanthood, so that we can build a future that puts few strains on the society and the environment.

MacDenis Igbo

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