Information and news about nigeria

Human Trafficking in Nigeria
Nigeria is currently estimated to be the largest human trafficking hub in the world. Thousands of Nigerians, most of them women and young girls, become victims of sexual and labor exploitation each year. However, there are a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations actively working to stop this trade. These organizations are focused on monitoring human trafficking in and out of Nigeria, as well as helping rescue victims. The Devatop Centre for African Development is one of the leading human rights organizations that advocates putting an end to human trafficking in Nigeria and provides resources for victims who have been rescued.


Facts About Human Trafficking in Nigeria

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) reported that human trafficking in Nigeria dates back to the 15th century when European colonists started the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in the country. In 1807, the British Parliament banned the slave trade, though human trafficking continued to exist. It eventually evolved into the human trafficking we see today, where victims are coerced or threatened into sexual and labor exploitation.

In 2019, 203 cases of human trafficking were reported and investigated by NAPTIP in Nigeria. Seven hundred one suspects were arrested, but only 25 traffickers were actually convicted. Despite the low number of reported cases and the even lower number of convictions, NAPTIP rescued 1,152 victims of human trafficking in 2019. Of those victims, 18.4% were rescued from foreign travel, which promotes prostitution. Additionally, of the victims rescued, 80.6% were female and half of them were minors. A 2017 report published by the International Organization for Migration showed that “Women and unaccompanied girls of Nigeria are among the most at risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation.”

Between July 2003 and December 2019, NAPTIP rescued a total of 14,688 victims of human trafficking. Of the 7,487 total reported cases they received, 3,935 were investigated and 332 convictions were made. Undercover CNN reporters, who posed as would-be migrants traveling from Nigeria to Italy in 2018, discovered that the Edo State in Nigeria is one of the largest human trafficking departure points in Africa. Many of these victims are trapped refugees who do not have enough money to finish traveling across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.


Fighting Human Trafficking in Nigeria

The Devatop Centre for African Development is a Nigerian-based advocacy organization that works towards ending human trafficking and other human rights violations. The Centre uses a combination of educational and support programs. The organization’s programs focus on informing youth about human trafficking practices, encouraging members of the community to join the fight against human trafficking and empowering survivors to make a safe and supported transition back into society.

Executive Director Joseph Osuigwe started the Devatop Centre for African Development in 2014, after being inspired by the testimonies of students and beneficiaries who experienced sexual exploitation. Osuigwe said his pilot project for the Centre was The Academy for Prevention of Human Trafficking and Other Related Matters (TAPHOM), which uses “training, advocacy, research, media and publication to prevent human trafficking.” The first 120 young people to work under the project reached over 6,000 people in over 30 communities across Nigeria with their advocacy and successfully rescued one victim.

Today, the Centre has over 300 volunteers in 15 Nigerian states, as well as in Italy, the Netherlands, the U.S. and South Africa, said Osuigwe in an interview with The Borgen Project. The three main educational programs the Centre offers are the Anti-Human Trafficking Advocacy Program, the Volunteers Against Human Trafficking and the TALKAM Human Rights Project. Each of these programs trains volunteers in advocacy work. Osuigwe said the most successful project has been the TALKAM Human Rights Project, which directly engages members of the community in multiple ways.

The website www.talkam.org, which also has a mobile application offered on the Google Play Store, offers a resource where community members can report human rights abuses to NAPTIP and receive up-to-date information on human trafficking in Nigeria. The radio station Wazobia FM Abuja 99.5 hosts the TALKAM weekly radio program each weekend to discuss information about human trafficking in Nigeria and encourage citizens to join the fight against it. 

Additionally, the Centre hosts a quarterly community TALKAM Dialogue that engages “stakeholders and community representatives to discuss different human rights issues affecting the community,” said Osuigwe.


The Future of the Fight Against Human Trafficking in Nigeria

In 2018, Executive Governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki signed the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law. This law criminalized human trafficking in Nigeria and created a legal framework in which human traffickers could be reported, investigated and convicted. Additionally, the law created the Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking in Nigeria, which works towards ending human trafficking.

Governor Obaseki also promised the protection and support of human trafficking victims under the law. Human trafficking returnees now receive ₦20,000 (equivalent to approximately $50) and an “empowerment package” that includes training against human trafficking. Osuigwe told The Borgen Project that the Devatop Centre for African Development is also planning to expand the reach of the TALKAM Human Rights Project.

“We want to activate anti-human trafficking advocacy in more states in Nigeria, so as to increase more action against human trafficking,” said Osuigwe.

Nigeria is estimated to be the biggest human trafficking hub in the world. While the country may have a long way to go, organizations like the Centre and the Nigerian government are working to end human trafficking. Through community-based advocacy work and systemic change, such as the passing of the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law, there is hope for more victims to be rescued and more traffickers to be stopped.

Myranda Campanella

Photo: Flickr

Marie Stopes International Nigeria recently donated almost 1,500 units of the medication misoprostol to the Nigerian state Nasarawa. This donation will hopefully reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria, which, in Nasarawa, is higher than average. The donated misoprostol cost one million Nigerian Naira altogether, approximately $2,580.

What is Marie Stopes International?

Dr. Tim Black founded the current Marie Stopes International in 1976 when he purchased and revitalized the Marie Stopes Clinic in London, named after the late Dr. Marie Stopes. A year later, Dr. Black and his wife opened a clinic in Dublin, followed by another in New Delhi.

MSIN first came to Nigeria in 2009. These clinics provide ultrasounds, testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, counseling, and other related forms of reproductive healthcare. As of 2018, the Non-Governmental Organization has helped more than three million women in Nigeria alone, and Marie Stopes has opened clinics in 37 countries around the world. The NGO’s Nasarawa State Clinical and Training Officer Nathaniel Oyona praised Marie Stopes’s decision to “support the government by assisting pregnant women especially those that cannot afford to pay their bills.”

Why is Maternal Mortality in Nigeria So High?

A study from 1985 to 2001 at the University of Jos found that hemorrhage after delivery caused most maternal deaths, followed by sepsis and eclampsia. Furthermore, in 2015, Nigeria registered around 58,000 maternal deaths resulting in a maternal mortality ratio of more than 800 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. By comparison, the WHO cited that the 46 most developed countries in the world had a maternal mortality ratio of 12 deaths per 100,000 live births in the same year.

As of 2017, childbirth causes the deaths of 7% of women in Nasarawa each year. Nasarawa’s shortage of medical staff, equipment and medicine means that many women do not trust the birth centers. Instead, many women choose to give birth at home without a doctor present. However, home births can pose problems if complications arise, such as a postpartum hemorrhage. Unfortunately, this situation leaves many pregnant women without proper access to much needed medical care.

How Does Misoprostol Help Maternal Mortality in Nigeria?

Misoprostol is an oral medication with multiple uses that can lower the chance of hemorrhage after childbirth. Various studies have found that misoprostol can reduce postpartum bleeding by 24% to 47%. Because misoprostol is taken orally, it is easy to distribute and administer. Heat exposure will also not negatively impact misoprostol’s effectiveness. Misoprostol’s versatility makes it useful for women who choose to have a home birth or lack access to birth centers.

MSIN specified that the 1,497 packs donated are earmarked for women without the means to afford postnatal care. The Commissioner for Health in Nasarawa confirmed the misoprostol will be distributed accordingly.

What Are the Next Steps to Fight Maternal Mortality in Nigeria?

Though the donation of misoprostol is a welcome short-term solution, long-term reform is needed to reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria. Since 2011, the government of Nasarawa has shifted to the Nigerian State Health Investment Project, in hopes of rebuilding trust with clinics and hospitals and giving better care to patients. The government has since granted multiple facilities in Nasarawa updated medical equipment and a better supply of necessary drugs. These reforms have caused a positive change in clientele and productivity.

As for Marie Stopes International, the NGO will continue to open clinics worldwide and train local people to provide reproductive healthcare. Through their social franchise networks, MSIN staff train Nigerian doctors and nurses to provide better reproductive healthcare and counseling in their facilities. Once local healthcare providers complete their program, MSIN gives them the medicine and other materials they may need for their practice. In Nigeria, 200 franchisees have completed the MSIN training program.

Though more work is necessary to combat maternal mortality in Nigeria, misoprostol has proven to be an accessible and effective tool to help prevent postpartum hemorrhage in women. This is one step in a larger plan to rebuild trust in the healthcare system and reduce maternal deaths in Nigeria.

– Jackie McMahon
Photo: Flickr

Farming in Nigeria
Farming in Nigeria makes up a significant part of the Nigerian economy with agriculture accounting for more than 20% of the country’s gross domestic product. However, even with the large number of people who make a living by farming, around 20 million people are facing unemployment in the country. With this in mind, Kola Masha set out to create an enterprise that would promote farming in Nigeria while also reducing the rate of unemployment. This goal led to the founding of Babban Gona, an enterprise Masha hoped would change the world of Nigerian farming for the better.

Poverty in Nigeria

As of 2018, approximately 82 million Nigerians were living in poverty, which is defined as living on $1.90 a day or less. The population of Nigeria is approximately 200 million, meaning about 40% of Nigerians are living in poverty. There are many reasons for the high poverty rate in Nigeria. The social unrest in the country as well as the regional inequality between Northern and Southern Nigeria both contribute to the poverty rate. However, one of the most critical reasons for the large number of people living in poverty is the lack of job opportunities.

Babban Gona

Faced with the growing unemployment rate of Nigeria, Kola Masha decided to found Babban Gona in 2012. The goal of the enterprise is to create more jobs by expanding crop production in rural areas of Nigeria. It focuses mostly on maize production and farming in Nigeria. The organization is currently working towards the goal of creating 10 million jobs by 2030. Though no easy feat, Babban Gona has gotten a good head start, as it already has over 100,000 members in six different Nigerian states. Masha believes that agriculture is the industry best fit for job expansion in Nigeria and is extremely hopeful that the industry will help create many more jobs.

The ‘Great Farm’ and What it Does

Babban Gona, which translates to “great farm” in Hausa language, works by providing its members with different farming-related aides that will help enhance their crop production. The company focuses on financial services, agricultural input services, training and development and marketing services. Once a farmer becomes a member of Babban Gona, they automatically have access to training that will ensure they are using the best techniques possible.

Agents of Babban Gona often teach members about water retention, seed planting and sustainable farming, among other essential farming methods. Babban Gona also provides members with storage facilities during the harvest season, which keeps crops from wasting and teaches their members about marketing. The enterprise also provides its members with access to much-need credit services. With funding by many different agencies and governments, including the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund and the German government, Babban Gona is able to stay alive and continue to help its current members, as well as take in new ones.

Babban Gona is a revolutionary enterprise that is working hard to reduce unemployment and encourage agriculture in Nigeria. Through services like training, food storage and financial help, the organization is dedicated to helping its members excel. Babban Gona is changing farming in Nigeria by providing its members with invaluable skills that will no doubt benefit them for a lifetime, while also proving that ambitious ideas can become reality with some hard work and the right mindset.

– Paige MusgravePhoto: Pixabay

Child Labor in Nigeria
Child labor is one of the most monumental issues in Nigeria, a country with a developing economy, affecting a large portion of the country’s children up to age 17. Forgoing a normal care-free childhood, many children living on the front lines of poverty must maintain a job and sustain a regular income. The unethical use of child labor is an issue that has been prevalent throughout human history impacting health, wellbeing and quality of life. Below are 10 facts about child labor in Nigeria.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Nigeria

  1. Several different industries employ children. The jobs available to children are limited to unskilled and physical, labor-intensive tasks. The most common industries that employ children in Nigeria are cocoa farming, gold mining, sediment sifting, street peddling and domestic servitude.
  2. Conditions are hazardous. Although there are labor laws in place, Nigeria does not actively enforce safety regulations or preventative measures in the workplace. This type of neglect leads to an extremely dangerous environment that often results in bodily harm, severe trauma and even death. Children who work on the streets often make easy targets for violence and kidnapping. If a child suffers harm on the job, help or compensation does not extend to the family, leaving them to face the repercussions alone.
  3. Children often support their families. Much of child labor is a direct result of Nigeria’s extreme poverty, which accounts for around 70% of the nation’s population living below the poverty line, according to the CIA World Factbook. Families struggling to make ends meet often enlist the help of their children to bring in additional income. Without an effective welfare system, many families have no other option for survival. In an even more dire situation, some laborers who are orphans shoulder the entire burden of providing for younger siblings. Recent findings by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development found that about 17.5 million children become orphans or enter similarly vulnerable situations throughout the country.
  4. Child labor is on the rise. Estimates determine that the current number of child workers in Nigeria is 15 million according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). At a staggering 43% of the total population of minors, it is the highest recorded rate of child labor in Western Africa. The poverty rates have risen almost 20% — up from 53% in 2003 — in the span of 7 years, according to the World Bank and CIA World Factbook. This environment of financial strife causes more and more families to expect their children to go out to work and contribute an income.
  5. Children often drop out of school. Due to the rigid demands of a long workday, school often becomes less of a priority. Education is not legally mandatory in Nigeria so there is no required attendance. The lack of a proper education ensures they will remain unskilled laborers into adulthood, making it nearly impossible to escape the cycle of poverty. The Bureau of International Labor Affairs reports only 76% of children in total go to school, and about 27% of child laborers attend school in addition to work. Some reports have stated that certain schools exploit their students and make them work or beg during school hours to earn money for teachers.
  6. Many children experience trafficking. Children who are especially vulnerable, such as orphans, are more at risk for human trafficking and forced labor than adults, with their rate being estimated at 58%. Enticed by fictitious stories of better jobs located in more economically rich areas, they agree to leave their homes in hopes of making money. However, the traffickers never deliver the promise and the victims find themselves in even worse situations and unable to go home. Upon arrival, traffickers often claim that the child has accrued debt from transport. To maintain control and prevent runaways, traffickers use coercion in the form of threats against the child or their families back home to motivate them to pay off their debt. Unfortunately, these children find themselves in a ruse, where ballooned charges that continuously compound prevent them from ever making their final payment.
  7. Slavery is common. Around 30% of child workers do not receive compensation and must work against their will. Child slavery is very common in cases of trafficking or when there is no one to advocate for the child. In trafficking cases, traffickers tell the child that their salaries are going towards paying off their “debt.” In some live-in situations, their room and board charges absorb their pay. Those who do receive actual payment usually only take home pennies on the dollar.
  8. Girls are at higher risk for sexual exploitation, resulting from trafficking within the sex industry. A former government official, Martin Uhomoibhi, revealed to the U.N. that there were 602,000 known victims who made the dangerous journey across the continent in 2016. However, the total number of victims is widely unknown, since traffickers covertly smuggle many of the girls and women smuggled across Nigeria’s border, but experts believe that these numbers are some of the highest in the world. Traffickers often bring girls to brothels and restrain and force them to service clients in deplorable conditions despite any physical health ailments, according to horrifying testimonies that the Human Rights Watch recorded. The outlook for these girls is grim, as many die in captivity or move back to the streets due to critical conditions that render them unable to work, and therefore no longer profitable to their captors.
  9. There are unofficial wartime drafts. Regional conflicts and war cause armies to form as a way of resistance and protection against outside threats. Many know Africa for this sort of violence, with brutal wars routinely escalating. People often pull boys as young as 10 years old from their homes, give them a deadly weapon and order them to kill an unknown enemy. UNICEF estimates that around 3,500 Nigerian child soldiers have enlisted between 2013-2017. Many children die in active combat or from a lack of supplies.
  10. The government response has been underwhelming. New hope for relief on the child labor front occurred when the government signed the Child Rights Act into effect in 2003. Unfortunately, the government has put little effort forth toward ending the practice since its ratification. Many experts believe there will be no true resolution until the government steps in with not only stricter regulations, but absolute enforcement.

Children are society’s most vulnerable people. With no voice to advocate for their rights, they are in a poor position to influence political policy. A child’s place is in school where they can receive a proper education and use it to build a promising future, not just for themselves but for the society in which they live as well. It is the task and moral responsibility of adults and officials in power to prioritize basic human rights over the gilded benefits of cheap labor and end this practice permanently.

– Samantha Decker
Photo: Flickr

Technovation Empowers Kids to Fight Global Poverty
Technovation is a global tech education nonprofit dedicated to empowering underrepresented groups by giving them the opportunity to create, lead and problem solve. The organization does this through its programs called Technovation Girls and Technovation Families that allow children and families to solve problems within their own communities through technology and innovation. Through these programs, Technovation empowers kids to fight global poverty.

Technovation Families

The organization’s family program collaborates with schools, mentors and families to work on creative artificial intelligence projects. These projects address real-world issues in their communities. The program is open to everyone and is completely free to children and families. Since 2006, more than 80,000 families around the world have participated in the program’s design challenges.

Technovation Families includes 10 lessons that teach families how to solve a problem in their community using artificial intelligence (AI). At the end of the lessons, families have the opportunity to submit their idea to the AI World Championship. The program encourages the collaboration of children and their families to change the world through technology.

Technovation Girls

Along with its family program, Technovation empowers kids to fight global poverty through Technovation Girls. The program works with girls ages 10-18, influencing them to become leaders and entrepreneurs within the tech industry. Through volunteer mentorships, girls in the program form teams and create mobile apps that address issues in their communities. These apps have helped tackle issues such as domestic violence and climate change.

Technovation Girls has empowered over 130,000 girls, children and parents to improve their communities through coding and artificial intelligence. Since the organization’s start, 7,000 mobile apps and AI prototypes have emerged and over 14,000 mentors have supported underrepresented populations. Apps such as FD-Detector, Eedo and Handsout have significantly impacted local communities.

FD-Detector

In 2018, Team Save-A-Soul, a group of five teenage girls from Nigeria, won the Technovation Challenge with their app, FD-Detector, which can detect counterfeit medicine. Before working with Technovation, the teens had a limited amount of knowledge on technology. However, through mentorship and education, they were able to make their innovative app come to life. The app helps customers and health care workers verify a drug’s authenticity and expiration date, which could mean life or death for a patient. In Nigeria, the sale of counterfeit drugs is a widespread issue. Team Save-A-Soul is raising awareness for counterfeit drugs and protecting people from harm.

Eedo

Another 2018 winner in the senior division was Team Cantavits, with its app Eedo. Eedo is an app that reduces electronic waste in India by connecting e-waste producers to authorized recyclers. Electronic waste can have damaging effects on the environment. By providing a resource for waste management and highlighting the harmful effects it can have on the environment, Team Cantavits has positively impacted its community.

Handsout

Brain Squad, another team from Nigeria, created an app called Handsout that helps more children go to school. The app, winning the 2019 People’s Choice award at the Technovation competition, gives people from all over the world the opportunity to donate to Nigerian children and their families. The donations cover school fees, supplies and medication.

Technovation empowers kids to fight global poverty through innovation and creativity. Its programs not only combat global poverty through the apps and technology it has created but through the cultivation of learning and collaboration to create a better future for impoverished populations.

Megan McKeough
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Nigeria
Nigeria currently has one of the largest homeless populations in the entire world. The reasons for this are numerous and complex, but there are many solutions to rectify the situation. This article presents 10 important facts concerning the issue of homelessness in Nigeria.

10 Facts About Homelessness in Nigeria

  1. Approximately 24.4 million homeless people live in Nigeria. This accounts for roughly 13 percent of the nation’s overall population. The issue is particularly egregious in the capital of Lagos, where 70 percent reside in “informal settlements.”
  2. Force eviction exacerbates the homelessness problem. This happens by the threat of violence, in the hopes of making Lagos an international business center. Around 1 million people had to leave their homes in the last 15 years alone.
  3. Government officials in Lagos typically give no warning before forcibly removing residents. For example, men wielding machetes cleared out an entire neighborhood. As a result, this made 30,000 Nigerians homeless instantly.
  4. In some cases, government officials are using children to do their bidding. Area boys are gangs of children and teenagers who the government employs to assist in demolitions. They also steal the belongings of those they are displacing.
  5. The government perceives these forced evacuations much differently. The Lagos state commissioner for housing insists that residents received plenty of notice and that they cleared the “shanties” to make way for new housing developments. However, the residents begged to differ and pointed out that they will not be able to afford the new housing units.
  6. Forced removals largely target the nation’s poor. This accounts for a staggering 70 percent of Nigeria’s population. This includes the 60 percent living in absolute poverty, or those only able to afford basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter.
  7. Terrorist activities uprooted many Nigerians. Boko Haram is a radical Islamist terrorist organization based in Northeast Nigeria. Ten years after its uprising in 2009, over 2 million are still displaced from their homes in the region.
  8. Natural disasters have also impacted homelessness in Nigeria. A flood in 2018 killed nearly 200 people and left almost 300,000 Nigerians homeless. Additionally, the flood spread diseases such as cholera, which killed 97 in northeast Nigeria.
  9.  Homelessness in Nigeria affects children greatly. There are roughly 8.6 million orphaned children in Nigeria many of whom live in places such as bridges, railway stations and markets. These homeless youth account for a large percentage of the 10.5 million Nigerian children who do not attend school despite being of legal school age.
  10. There are many efforts to reach the street kids of Nigeria. Nigerians who are working to help homeless youth include James Okina. Okina is a former street kid who founded the program Street Priests when he was just 15 years old, which is an organization to rehabilitate homeless children. Moreover, Seyi Oluyole is a choreographer with the organization who is attempting to heal street youth by teaching dance. Okina reached approximately 3,330 through his practice of social and emotional learning. Other organizations like Street Child seek to place displaced children back in school and assist with social and psychological problems.

Homelessness is an unfortunate reality for many Nigerians. While many consider that Nigeria’s population will double by 2050, it is imperative to solve the homelessness issue now. Several organizations have already made strides to combat the problem. If awareness continues to spread, lives should improve and change.

Joshua Roberts
Photo: Flickr

Eyesight in NigeriaAccording to the “World Report on Vision” by the World Health Organization (WHO), about one billion of the approximately 2.2 billion cases of visual impairment or blindness are preventable. Individuals still experience visual impairment because of the financial strain they would face for seeking medical help in sight-related issues. However, Nigeria has improved access to eye care. Considering there are about 4.25 million people over the age of 40 with vision impairment, the topic of eyesight in Nigeria is pertinent. To better understand Nigeria’s story and approach to battling vision impairment, here are some facts about eyesight in Nigeria:

5 Facts About Eyesight in Nigeria

  1. The healthcare system for eyesight in Nigeria is largely unequal for low-income and rural populations. Financially, the cost of eye exams and transportation to eye clinics are not affordable for many Nigerians. Moreover, people in rural communities lack education, information and resources that would better explain the facts behind vision impairment. This is amplified by the lack of trained, dispersed staff who would otherwise introduce the available resources for vision care. Overall, all of these factors disproportionally obstruct people in rural communities from getting the care that they need.
  2. The most common impairments for eyesight in Nigeria include cataracts, glaucoma and other preventable diseases. With early diagnosis, many of these diseases can be corrected with the use of medicines and glasses. Routine check-ups are not a norm in Nigeria. In turn, this has adversely impacted eyesight for many Nigerians. As a result, conducting studies, spreading awareness and international pressure have led Nigeria and other developing countries to create task forces that specifically focus on access to vision care.
  3. From 2005 to 2007, the “National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey” was conducted to measure eyesight in Nigeria. This was the first survey to calculate vision data of individuals over 40 in the country. The survey results helped the state mobilize appropriate resources towards vision rehabilitation. Additionally, the study provided data for international initiatives, such as the World Health Organization’s “Vision 2020: The Right to Sight,” that also hope to alleviate impaired vision.
  4. WHO and The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) launched “Vision 2020: The Right to Sight” in 1999. Over the past two decades, this project made eye care a primary public health issue. The project set a target to reduce avoidable visual impairment by 25 percent by 2019. Nigeria’s participation in Vision 2020 allowed it to increase vision care accessibility for low-income individuals. Due to Nigeria’s overwhelming success in vision care, it has established eye care standards that other developing countries are striving to achieve.
  5. Companies, such as VisionSpring, help to provide eyewear to low-income communities around the world. VisionSpring sees the earning potential of an individual with the proper eyewear. From being able to see course work as a student to being able to drive safely as an adult, there are many possibilities in adequate eyewear. The average cost of glasses that address nearsightedness in Nigeria is around $0.85 per pair. As of 2018, VisionSpring has distributed about 6.8 million glasses to 43 countries. The impact of companies that are focusing on affordable prices for underserved communities has been enormous in the effort to alleviate global vision impairment.

Eyesight is fundamental to the quality of life and productivity of an individual. Nonetheless, eye care still does not garner as much attention it should in low and middle-income countries. Fortunately, international organizations, companies and efforts from individual countries, like Nigeria, have emerged to ensure better access to eyesight for vulnerable populations.

Ashleigh Litcofsky
Photo: Flickr

The Plight of Period Poverty in Nigeria
Period poverty occurs when someone cannot afford proper menstrual hygiene products, including tampons and sanitary pads. Health experts have labeled period poverty as the cause of why students, girls in particular, routinely miss school. Approximately 1.2 billion women across the world do not have sufficient access to these menstruation sanitation products. This typically leads to unhygienic practices, like using rough newspapers or cloth napkins in place of pads. According to reports by UNICEF, one in 10 African girls miss school due to their periods. This is akin to about 20 percent of a school year. Nigeria also places a heavy tax on menstrual products, with a pack of pads costing around $1.30. People who are facing extreme poverty, approximately 44 percent of the population, make less than $1.90 per day. Here is more information about period poverty in Nigeria.

Period Poverty in Nigeria

Period poverty in Nigeria has received little attention, but due to firsthand encounters with schoolgirls who struggle to make ends meet between school and their menstrual hygiene, more initiatives have sprung forward. In a conservative country where discussions on menstrual health are often taboo, these measures are important to start eliminating barriers to quality menstrual hygiene.

In March 2018, Ashley Lori, a health activist, began her advocacy efforts when she witnessed the impact of period poverty in Nigeria. She formed an advocacy campaign that focuses on three primary aspects: advocacy, sensitization and support programs. She developed and supported various efforts like the #1millionpadscampaign, Cover Her Stain campaign and Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28. The campaign has distributed sanitary pads to secondary students in the city of Abuja and other rural areas.

Menstrual Health Education

UNICEF developed the Menstrual Health Management (MHM) program based on its research in 2017. The program is an initiative to teach women and adolescent girls how to use “clean menstrual management material” to absorb menstrual blood and to provide access to readily available facilities to dispose of the menstrual material.

In August 2019, public health specialist and sexuality health educator Lolo Cynthia traveled to southwest Nigeria to teach students how to sew their own reusable sanitary pads. The material comprises of linen and cloth and each teenager was able to take home two reusable pads and additional materials to make more. This reusable pad initiative sparked a wave of discourse surrounding sexual health. Cynthia, the founder of social enterprise LoloTalks and a UNHCR Nigerian influencer, is from Lagos, Nigeria, where she witnessed the necessity to empower these communities with sexual education firsthand.

In her NoDayOff campaign, Cynthia focused on access, awareness and affordability to alleviate period poverty.  In August 2019, the campaign allocated more than 1,000 disposable menstrual pads in Lagos’ Festac Town. It was difficult to receive financial backing for her campaign, but eventually, the First Lady of Ondo, Betty Anyawu-Akeredolu, offered support. These organizations also petition for the government to take on the civic responsibility of reducing taxes or providing greater accessibility to sanitary pads.

Sanitation Initiatives

Other aid efforts include a sanitation initiative that Hope Springs Water developed. This organization emerged in Athens, Texas to increase access to drinking water and sanitation to the world’s poor. It also teaches schoolgirls how to make their own menstrual pads from sustainable fabrics. The project, SuS Pads, intends to help women make their own menstruation pads with sustainable fabrics. The organization hosted menstrual hygiene workshops, where schoolgirls learned about disposable pads and the importance of menstrual health.

Empowering women to make their own reusable pads not only improves sanitary conditions but also serves as an economic vehicle that can fuel more household income. It is an effective avenue for women to create their own businesses and profit off of making their own reusable pads. There are many countries that are taking steps in alleviating the financial burden of affording menstrual products. This includes Kenya’s implementation of a historic law in 2018 that would hand out more than 140 million pads to girls in its public schools. This will eventually boost girls’ education and give access to sanitary pads to 4.2 million girls in the country. Global support channels more awareness on the issue of not only period poverty in Nigeria but in other regions as well, which helps fight the plight of global poverty.

Brittany Adames
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Internet Access Helps Impoverished Nations
As of 2018, 4.1 billion people currently have internet access. This is roughly 95 percent of the world’s 7.1 million population. According to a data graph constructed by Our World in Data, the majority of this internet access is in North America and Asia. Comparatively, on average only about 20 percent of the population of Africa has internet access. Meanwhile, over 60 percent of India’s population lives under the poverty line and only 26 percent of the country’s population has internet access. Internet access can help impoverished nations, though, which is why there are efforts to bring it to places it is not available currently.

Connecting the Globe

Providing a country with internet access is more than just access to the internet. It is also about global connections. Internet.org is an organization that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg created, which explains that the internet should be a global right. This is due to the wealth of information that the internet contains. Global Citizen also asserts that if Africa had access to the information that the internet provided, it may be able to jumpstart its infrastructure.

Causes of Lack of Internet Access

Weform.org explains the following reasons for lack of internet access across the world:

  • Countries do not have the proper infrastructure to provide their people with an internet connection. According to the United Nations (U.N.), however, the establishment of 3G networks could be one effort toward improvement.
  • A 3G network currently covers only 60 percent of the world. By 2020, the U.N. expects that 97 percent of the world will have full 3G coverage.

  • Cost is also a major factor because 13 percent of the world’s population currently lives under the poverty line.

  • People in these countries do not always have the skills necessary to properly use the internet. Also, 13 percent of the global population is illiterate.

  • Eighty percent of internet content is only available in 10 different languages and less than half of the global population speaks these languages.

Looking Toward the Future

Internet access can help impoverished nations see major improvements. Google created a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country of Nigeria in 2018. Global Citizen estimated that this could generate $300 billion for Africa’s total GDP by 2025. The Nigerian government is taking notice of the efforts led by Google. President Yemi Osinbajo visited Silicon Valley in 2018 and attended the launch of the Google hotspots, according to Global Citizen. This shows that an increase in technology not only improves conditions for a nation’s people but can also help local governments understand how internet access can reduce poverty.

Another way internet access can reduce poverty is by providing support for those suffering from poverty. Telecommunications company Vodafone launched Vodafone’s Farmers’ Club. Esoko states that the organization provides over 1 million farmers with phones. This allows access to numerous services including farming tips, weather updates and nutrition tips. According to Dela A. Kumahor, who served as a design expert on the project, research showed that farmers often feel restricted by their low amount of technology literacy and lack of business sense. According to The Guardian, Vodafone has done the research to show that mobile-focused agricultural services could lead to a $34 billion increase in 26 different markets by 2020. The service has also rolled out in Turkey, where 500,000 farmers have signed onto the project. This has led to a $100 million increase in farmer productivity.

Internet access can help impoverished nations that need relief. The internet provides jobs, services and connections that allow people, governments and industries the opportunity to help their countries fight global poverty. Improving agriculture and providing services are just two of the ways that internet access can reduce poverty.

– Jacob Creswell
Photo: Flickr

Facts about Sanitation in Nicaragua
In November 2018, Nigeria’s President Mohammadu Buhari declared a state of emergency in the country’s WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector. Sub-Saharan Africa ranks as having the most limited access to clean water and sanitation and the region is most significantly influenced by the situation in Nigeria. These 10 facts about sanitation in Nigeria explore the impact of poor living conditions and the current efforts it is making to improve WASH conditions.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Nigeria

  1. Access to Clean Water: Currently, only about 26.5 percent of the Nigerian population has access to improved drinking water sources and WASH services. The lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities is at the root of numerous issues such as diseases, malnutrition and poverty. Poor sanitation hinders development while exacerbating health inequalities and poverty.
  2. Contamination and Disease: Contaminated water gives rise to waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid fever. Limited access to clean water and sanitation is one of the most significant contributing factors to high mortality rates in children under 5 years old. Seventy thousand children under 5 years old die annually in Nigeria because of waterborne diseases and 73 percent of diarrhea and enteric disease cases in Nigeria are due to limited access to clean water and sanitation.
  3. Lack of Sewer Systems: Except for certain areas of Lagos, there are very little infrastructure and services to manage waste disposal. Seventy-one percent of Nigeria’s population does not have access to a sanitary toilet and disparities concentrate in rural areas. This means that often people will defecate in plastic bags, roadsides, railway tracks or bushes surrounding their communities for lack of a better option.
  4. Open Defecation: Currently, about 23.5 percent of the population in Nigeria defecates in the open. Open defecation is one of the main causes of water contamination. Because of the lack of governmental infrastructure, managing waste disposal is up to communities and individual families.
  5. Hospitals: The lack of sanitation in Nigeria directly impacts health care services. For example, 29 percent of hospitals and clinics in Nigeria do not have access to clean water or safe toilets. Patients’ immune systems are already weak, and poor sanitation significantly increases the risk of infection and complications.
  6. Lack of Political Infrastructure: One of the largest obstacles to increasing access to adequate WASH services in Nigeria is the lack of a unified government or political body. This makes it very difficult to mobilize communities and organize efforts. Issues such as the war on Boko Haram and corruption take priority for the Nigerian government because of the urgent safety threats that they pose. Investing in sanitation, however, is crucial for development and growth in the future.
  7. Economic Repercussions of Poor Sanitation: The Nigeria Water and Sanitation Program estimates that poor sanitation costs Nigeria $3 billion annually. This loss is primarily the result of premature deaths and sanitation access time. Estimates determine that each person loses 2.5 days each year trying to find a private location to defecate. The economic costs that result from poor sanitation disproportionately impact Nigeria’s poor, perpetuating a cycle of inequality and socio-economic disparity.
  8. Government Action: Currently, a disproportionately large amount of funding goes towards urban areas. In addition to the lack of financial resources, skilled workers rarely work in rural areas. Following the declaration of a state of emergency in 2018, the Nigerian government and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources launched the National Action Plan (NAP). This outlined a proposal for increasing coverage of WASH services in both rural and urban areas, as well as in schools and health facilities, by 2030.
  9. Sustainable Total Sanitation (STS) Nigeria project: With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WaterAid led the STS Nigeria Project to improve access to sanitation in the states of Ekiti and Enugu. This project included the development of the Water Easy Toilet (WET), an affordable and durable product. This is an example of SanMark (Sanitation Marketing field), which attempts to meet the demand for affordable sanitary products. SanMark is one of the main aims of the STS Nigeria project in order to increase access to sanitation technologies. The WET toilet can directly decrease open defecation rates and work towards improving WASH conditions in Nigeria.
  10. Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS): Along with SanMark, CLTS is one of the main interventions within the STS Nigeria project, aimed at educating communities about the negative impact of poor sanitation and open defecation. Both of these interventions target open defecation and try to offer alternatives or come up with solutions for specific communities. CLTS is a method that engages communities to analyze practices such as open defecation on their own. The reasoning behind CLTS is that communities need to understand the negative impacts that open defecation can cause because simply providing communities with toilets does not guarantee that they will use them. In Nigeria, CLTS has shown to reduce rates of open defecation in the poorest communities.

Improving sanitation in Nigeria is crucial to making progress in health and allowing for economic development. These 10 facts about sanitation in Nigeria illustrate the severity of the current situation and the many ways in which progress is possible. While access to WASH services in Nigeria has decreased since 1990, new technologies and projects such as the WET toilet and CLTS are working towards improving sanitation in Nigeria. Despite the political instability in Nigeria, the National Action Plan that the government launched shows initiative and potential for stronger political action toward universal access. Educating and engaging the communities themselves can influence change and encourage governmental action.

 – Maia Cullen
Photo: UNICEF