Information and news about nigeria

Tourism-Economies
Everyone loves a good vacation or at least it is easy to think that while walking on a white-sand beach and sipping a Mai Tai. The truth lurking behind the tranquility of remote island temples and the prestige of historical landmarks is that tourist economies are not all sunshine and smooth sailing. With off-seasons that take up a large portion of the year and uncertain demand, tourism-economies may be more vulnerable to pitfalls than industrial or agriculture-based economies. The following countries exemplify the great promise and instability of tourism-economies.

Indonesia

Tourism in Indonesia is one of the main draws for foreign currency. In 2018, the number of people coming in from outside of Indonesia rose 12.6% to about 15.8 million. One of the biggest draws in tourism is culture. Countries that do well in tourism carry significant cultural influence in the area or have notable landmarks. For example, the world fetes Italy for its long history, art and cuisine. Meanwhile, statistics have shown that Indonesia underperforms in this sector compared to other countries in the region. Singapore, for example, draws in about 19 million people per year.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh is rapidly developing and this is an overall plus for the economy. However, it could bring a slight hiccup in the years to come. The nation’s main source of income, its textile industry, faces an imminent, irreversible decline with its graduation in development stages. Tourism could be Bangladesh’s biggest hope, with the industry contributing 10.4% to the global GDP. However, tourism only comprised 4.4% of Bangladesh’s GDP as of 2018, painting a bleak picture for the future of tourism. The country has been performing second to least successfully concerning popular destinations in Asia.

What might help is how well South Asia has been performing in tourism. Nations that have performed well in this area, like India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam, drew in 86% of the region’s total earnings in 2018 – a high Bangladesh was able to ride on the coattails of, as it attempted to market itself as a more desirable tourist destination. In recent years, Southeast and Southern Asia have demonstrated success in tourism, with respective 8% and 10% rates of growth.

One factor that greatly affects tourism is the visa facilities in a country. If tourists find the entry process to be too much of a hassle, they may be less inclined to vacation there. In India, a top-performing country in tourism, most of the world can easily obtain an e-Visa. In Bangladesh, however, in order for a person to gain a visa, many of their neighbors need to secure a visa beforehand. This further hampers an already struggling tourism industry.

Nigeria

Some have long thought of Nigeria as having great tourism potential, although obstacles in economic development stand in the way of meeting this full potential. Countries also have accommodation rates to take into account with tourism economies. Too steep a price may turn travelers off while not charging enough will undercut the profit potential of having a tourism economy to begin with. Since not all currencies convert equally, tourism-economies do well when they draw tourists from places with currencies that are more valuable to them. For example, Nigeria has this advantage over the U.S., with $1 being equal to 381.25 Nigerian Nairas. The average hotel rate in the U.S. was $131.21 per night as of 2019, while in Nigeria, the daily rate averaged anywhere in-between the equivalent of $27 and $128.

Relative Problems

Where tourism differs from other income-generating industries is that demand is less certain. If there is a use for a product, then a demand exists, and if there is a demand, then a country can profit by supplying for that demand. However, with tourism-economies, the “use” that creates demand is fickle, and as such, the success of the country “filling the supply” is less secure.

When the culture cannot compete, visas are too difficult to secure and prices just are not right, it does not just mean that the economy slows. People working in tourism potentially cannot generate an income, even if they can technically perform their jobs correctly. Travel trends and off seasons are out of the control of the low-to-middle income people working in the industry. For those already in a precarious financial situation, finding financial growth and stability in a tourism economy is incredibly difficult. In the past year, the global COVID-19 pandemic has also created further problems for the tourism industry.

Barefoot College International

With COVID-19, travel restrictions and business shutdowns, the tourism industry is all but entirely gone in most countries. As the earning potential of a tourism economy is insecure, some organizations strive to help populations attain more secure means of income. Barefoot College operates in more than 90 countries and is expanding across Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

Barefoot College has a variety of boots-on-the-ground efforts to help impoverished communities, including clean water and environmentally conscious health initiatives. It also has a strong education program that provides academic and practical skills that can help people increase their earning potential and make it easier for them to get jobs. Its focus is on digital education so that its work is accessible for people anywhere in the world.

After 40 years, 75,000 children have received an education, 65% of whom have been girls. From here, 40% of the children educated through Barefoot College have been able to enter their country’s mainstream education system. Of those educated through Barefoot College, 30% went on to become employed at jobs that required literacy. After graduating, 85% of those considering migrating decided to stay in their village to use their acquired knowledge and skills there.

While tourism-economies can be very profitable, changing factors such as a global pandemic cause many of these economies to be unstable. Organizations like Barefoot College help provide much-needed stability to tourism-economies. Moving forward, it is essential that more organizations work to find long-term economic solutions for countries that rely heavily on the tourism industry to help ensure a stable economic future.

Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Nigeria
Settled on the western coast of Africa is the country of Nigeria. Despite being Africa’s wealthiest country, Nigeria is home to nearly 83 million people living in poverty. With half the country’s population comprising of people under the age of 15, poverty in Nigeria disproportionately affects children. Extreme poverty has disturbed nearly every aspect of child development including education, nutrition, safety and hygiene. These five facts about child poverty in Nigeria offer insight into the struggles that plague children living in poverty and highlight the humanitarian efforts to come in 2021.

5 Facts About Child Poverty in Nigeria

  1. The majority of children in Nigeria live in poverty. According to the Harmonized Nigeria Living Standard Survey (HNLSS) in 2010, 70.3% of Nigerian children lived in poverty while 23.2% lived in extreme poverty. Those living in poverty live under the national poverty line. In Nigeria, the poverty line sits at just $381.75 USD. Despite living on such a small income, people living in poverty often still have access to government facilities for shelter, food and hygiene needs. Children living in extreme poverty, on the other hand, are not able to satisfy basic human needs like food, shelter and safety.
  2.  Only 26.5% of the country uses improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities. Access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene are extremely necessary elements to life, as they directly affect one’s health and safety. Nigeria’s small amount of sanitation facilities are predominantly located in urban areas, making them accessible to a limited amount of people. Most Nigerians live in rural areas and do not have access to these government facilities. Like most poverty-related issues, this disproportionately affects children and their health. Contaminated drinking water and unsanitary living conditions are the prime contributors to the 70,000 annual deaths of children under the age of 5 due to waterborne illnesses.
  3. Nigerian children have poor access to education. Despite a national mandate for compulsory education, 10.5 million children do not receive formal schooling. Many children do not attend school because they work to support their families. Meanwhile, other children do not go to school because armed conflict has severely affected or destroyed their schools. Poor funding, lack of teachers and long commutes are among other reasons so many children do not attend school in Nigeria. Out of the 10 million mentioned, 60% of those without access to education are girls. This, unfortunately, frequently subjects young girls to child marriage, poverty and gendered roles that limit their potential as citizens.
  4. Millions are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. In 2020, UNICEF estimated that 2 million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition, making 32% of children under 5 stunted or severely impaired. Currently, only about two out of every 10 malnourished children receive medical treatment.
  5. Only 16% of children in rural areas have full immunizations. Routine immunization continues to be a struggle for the children of Nigeria, specifically in inaccessible rural areas. Immunization efforts have decreased significantly over the years, and unfortunately, diseases that had previously undergone eradication have returned to the country.

UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children Appeal

With the COVID-19 pandemic devastating developing countries like Nigeria, the child poverty rates are only increasing. In response to this worsening crisis, UNICEF has created a comprehensive plan of humanitarian efforts in Nigeria and a list of goals for 2021.

Malnutrition and Disease

Malnutrition continues to be one of the leading causes of death for children in Nigeria. Food insecurity plagues rural regions of the country where government facilities are not accessible. To combat this crisis, by the end of 2021, UNICEF plans to admit 386,926 children under the age of 5 to UNICEF health facilities for severe acute malnutrition treatment.

Due to the worsening disease rates, UNICEF will be working with the Nigerian government to implement routine immunization efforts. These efforts will focus on rural areas as these are the regions that have the lowest percentage of vaccinations and see the least amount of service aid from the government. UNICEF projects this plan will result in 385,196 children receiving vaccinations against measles.

Sanitation

Contaminated water and unsanitary living conditions have been major contributors to child deaths in Nigeria. In 2021, UNICEF will focus on improving sanitary conditions and access to clean water in rural areas. UNICEF plans to focus these efforts on gender and disability sensitivity. In 2021, an estimated 850,000 people will receive access to clean water and sanitation facilities that are gender-specific and disability-friendly. In more rural, inaccessible areas, an additional 1.9 million people will obtain education on hygiene practices and receive hygiene tools and/or money for hygiene tools.

Education

As for education, UNICEF’s 2021 action plan accounts for access to formal or non-formal schooling for 1,345,145 children. In addition, 1,000 schools will implement infection prevention protocols and almost 700,000 children will receive individual learning materials. Education is vital to the UNICEF plan as it is the greatest resource for long-term progress and gives children the greatest chance to leave poverty later in life.

This comprehensive plan has the potential to bring essential humanitarian aid to 4.3 million people, including over 2 million Nigerian children that until now, have seen little to no aid due to the region where they live.

– Kendall Couture
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Nigeria
Human trafficking in Nigeria is an issue that requires improvement. Human trafficking, commonly defined as a form of modern-day slavery, is an issue that affects individuals globally. The Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) provides global human trafficking data that governments can use to enforce laws and aid victims. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) is one of the laws that the U.S. government enforced to convict traffickers and prevent further cases.

A four-tier ranking system, included in the TIP Report, classifies the extent of government efforts in reducing human trafficking, based on the standards that the TVPA states. For example, Tier 1 ranked countries have made significant efforts in fighting human trafficking while Tier 3 ranked countries have not made any significant efforts according to TVPA standards. In 2020, the Trafficking in Persons Report noted that Nigeria has Tier 2 status, which means that it does not meet TVPA standards in fighting human trafficking but is making significant efforts. One reason why Nigeria ranks on the Tier 2 watch list is that it did not always provide protection to victims. If Nigeria continues to rank on the Tier 2 watch list, it will obtain the lowest category, Tier 3, which would result in some government foreign aid restrictions, according to the TVPA.

The Situation in Nigeria

Though Nigeria is rich with natural resources, several issues exist such as a lack of job opportunities, social injustices, exclusion and discrimination. All of these make many individuals vulnerable to human trafficking. Due to weak child protection laws and family protection services, many women and children are subject to exploitation. Traffickers most commonly smuggle these victims of human trafficking in Nigeria into foreign countries. The U.S. State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has found Nigerian trafficking victims in more than 34 countries, with most of them in Europe.

Some causes of human trafficking in Nigeria include globalization, corruption and gender inequality. Globalization results in traffickers setting up routes that allow for easier transportation and minimizes prosecution. Corruption within government allows for bribery of individuals employed in government institutions, also minimizing the prosecution of traffickers. Gender inequality is also a major issue in Nigeria. Gender inequality results in women being less educated and living in poverty more often than not. Individuals living in poverty are more susceptible to human trafficking because of the desire to escape poverty which traffickers exploit.

Preventative Measures

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) is working with the Nigerian government to establish anti-trafficking measures. NAPTIP promotes public awareness among the population to identify what human trafficking looks like and to educate about the scale of the issue. NAPTIP also enforces prosecution measures with anti-trafficking laws that criminalize the act of sex and labor trafficking. The anti-trafficking law, the Trafficking in Persons’ Law Enforcement and Administration Act (TIPLEAA), creates a penalty of imprisonment of at least two years and a charged fine. Also, non-governmental organizations that are dedicated to raising awareness campaigns and other rehabilitation and reintegration systems for aid to survivors of human trafficking in Nigeria have created several programs.

In addition to the preventative measures that the government and NAPTIP, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) joined the efforts in combating human trafficking in Nigeria. Travel by air is the main form of transportation for human trafficking, as the data that traffickers moved 20% of 225,000 victims worldwide by plane between 2003 and 2016 shows, according to the UNODC 2018 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. To decrease this number of people becoming victims of trafficking, UNODC, NAPTIP and the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) set up initiatives to inform the public of the issue and create opportunities for airline workers to stop potential traffickers. To achieve the mutual goal, in 2019, the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs provided a $400,000 grant to aid in the education of the public on human trafficking.

Additional Support

One way in which Nigeria is combating human trafficking is through an app called iReport. The Nigeria anti-trafficking agency created the iReport app in 2003. It allows its users to report and alert the local authorities about cases of human trafficking that they witness. In 2018, reports determined that the app resulted in the conviction of traffickers in 359 cases since its launch.

Human trafficking also results in long-term mental and physical health issues for victims, which the Nigerian government’s measures are also addressing. Further aid in the form of shelters and rehabilitation is available for victims. Though these measures are in place, they are not of high-quality standards, which makes them ineffective. NAPTIP shelters house both victims of human trafficking in Nigeria and other survivors of violence. These mixed shelters make it difficult to aid trafficking survivors in their own specific needs and undermine the scale of the issue. Also, shelters often have poor living conditions, according to several accounts from women and children survivors. Reform is necessary for several areas of the Nigerian government and NAPTIP to not only improve essential recovery services but also to strengthen community efforts to decrease instances of human trafficking.

– Simone Riggins
Photo: Pixabay

the END FundNeglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of diseases caused by a variety of pathogens that are common in low-income regions. The World Health Organization WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorize 20 diseases as NTDs. They affect more than one billion people around the world, with more than a third of people affected by NTDs living in Africa. While about one-sixth of the world’s population suffers from at least one NTD, more attention is often brought to other diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. While these other diseases require a high level of attention, NTDs need prioritization too. The effects of NTDs can last for decades if proper care is not sought out as many have the ability to bring on permanent blindness and disfigurement. It is of the utmost importance that NTDs are addressed and one such organization putting in the work is the END Fund.

The END Fund

The END Fund is a nonprofit organization that seeks to protect the lives of people at risk of NTDs. It delivers treatments by working with local partners, understanding that these groups have regional expertise and know the needs of their area best.

The END Fund helps its partners design programs so that they can expand their capacity to collect important data regarding NTDs. Further, the END Fund provides technical support and monitors progress so its partners can fight disease in the most effective way possible.

It also collaborates with non-governmental organizations and seeks to involve all stakeholders in order to improve the lives of those at risk of contracting NTDs. The END Fund is active across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa as well as India and Afghanistan. It has programs in Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and others.

NTDs in Nigeria

The country with the greatest prevalence of NTDs in Africa is Nigeria. With a population of 195 million people, five of the most common NTDs are present: intestinal worms, lymphatic filariasis, river blindness, schistosomiasis and trachoma. These diseases can cause severe pain that inhibits people from going about their daily lives. Children miss out on their education and adults miss out on economic opportunities. NTDs can cause the already impoverished to sink even deeper into poverty.

In 2013, the END Fund arrived in Nigeria. Two years later, it partnered with Helen Keller International to support local partners, the Amen Foundation and Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH). It has since helped build the capacity of these groups so that they can respond to the issue of NTDs even stronger. It engaged with local leaders across many levels to make people aware of the treatment plans that are available. Among traditional groups, leaders took medication in front of many people to show that it was safe.

The End Fund’s Impact

In 2019 alone, the END Fund was able to treat 121 million people. The END Fund also trained 2.7 million healthcare workers between 2012 and 2019. Its workers have performed almost 31,000 surgeries during that same time period, with the treatments valued at more than $1 billion.

NTDs pose a great threat to people in developing countries. The END Fund has been able to accomplish a lot through its collaborative projects in Nigeria and across other countries. The END Fund will continue to work toward its vision of ensuring that people at risk of NTDs can live healthy lives.

– Evan Driscoll
Photo: Flickr

How COVID-19 Has Slowed Nigeria’s Access to MedicineNigeria, a country with both bustling cities and green plains stretching for miles, has earned the nickname “Giant of Africa.” Although Nigeria isn’t the largest country in Africa, it has the largest population with 206 million people calling it home. Even though the population in Nigeria has grown in 2020 by 2.58%, the country still has a high mortality rate and life expectancy of 54 years. Nigeria has one of the biggest HIV pandemics as well as a high risk for malaria. Access to medicine and vaccines have always been limited in Nigeria; however, COVID-19 has exacerbated the issues facing Nigeria’s healthcare system. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased restrictions on international trade, which has greatly impacted Nigeria’s pharmaceutical needs for people with pre-existing conditions, particularly those with HIV/AIDS or malaria. As 70% of Nigeria’s medical products are shipped from China and India, COVID-19 has interrupted an important part of Nigeria’s basic health needs.

Healthcare in Nigeria

Nigeria has always had trouble accessing medication as the country has a great dependency on imported products. According to Medrxiv, a server for health sciences, in 2013, only 25% of kids under the age of 2 had been vaccinated. In an attempt to secure a more efficient healthcare system, Nigeria began to manufacture its own pharmaceuticals but lately, production has been on a decline due to high prices, poor quality and a shortfall in access to medicine. Nigeria has 115 pharmaceutical manufacturers but they mainly rely on large imports from neighboring countries.

Before the virus swept across Nigeria, the country only had 350 ventilators and beds for the entire population. In April 2020, Nigeria obtained 100 more ventilators. But, what has actually been done to improve Nigeria’s basic health needs?

Changing Nigeria’s Healthcare

In 2018, four policy documents were presented to Nigeria by the Federal Minister of Health. The four policies acknowledge Nigerians need for access to medication and control of narcotics.

  1. The National Policy for Controlled Medicines — This policy, with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the European Union (EU), aims to improve healthcare services in Nigeria. By properly training healthcare professionals, narcotics can be safely monitored for medical and scientific use while avoiding abuse. The policy ensures that Nigeria will have better access to medication so citizens do not have to silently suffer. In 2012, as reported by The Global Access to Pain Relief Initiative, Nigeria only used 0.01% of narcotics to manage pain. The UNODC states, “This was largely attributed to limited or poor quantification of annual estimates, inadequate and irregular release of funds for procurement, limited knowledge and poor attitude, or issues of fear and stigma among many healthcare workers and the general populace.”
  2. National Guidelines for Quantification of Narcotic Medicines — This policy is continuous of Nigeria’s efforts to have access to “narcotic medicines.” It is a way to know how much medicine is required to fulfill Nigeria’s basic health needs. By creating a standardized system, Nigeria can estimate which and how many narcotics are needed for the country.
  3. National Guidelines for the Estimation of Psychotropic Substances and Precursors — This policy regulates “psychotropic substances,” such as alcohol, caffeine and marijuana. These drugs, according to the UNODC, can be used for “pain management including treatment of neuropathic pain and in the management of obstetric emergencies including hemorrhage, thus critical in reducing maternal deaths.” The policy verifies that these substances are and will be used for legal use only.
  4. National Minimum Standards of Drug Dependence — In the past, Nigeria treated addiction as a psychiatric condition or mental illness. Although Nigeria does not have the data to see how many people in the country have a drug dependency, treatments of addiction are changing. The policy’s goal is to have adequate care such as “counseling, vocational and occupational rehabilitation” available across Nigeria.

According to a 2020 Statista analysis, the budget for Nigeria’s healthcare is expected to increase, eventually reaching 1477 billion Nigerian naira by 2021. This can create more opportunities for Nigeria’s healthcare system, increase access to medicine and fulfill Nigeria’s basic health needs.

– Jessica LaVopa
Photo: Flickr

5 Social Issues Dividing NigeriaNigeria, one of the biggest exporters of oil and the most populated country in Africa, is living through severe poverty. In one day, Nigeria can produce 2.5 million barrels of crude oil. Starting at only $30 per barrel, Nigeria is battling high production costs with extremely low oil costs. With oil prices falling, high unemployment rates and rampant poverty, Nigeria stands divided. As of 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics shows that 40% of the population in Nigeria is living below the poverty line. But poverty is not the only thing halting Nigeria’s progress, social issues also stand in the way of furthering the country. Organizations such as Global Giving, a nonprofit that gives people a chance to fundraise globally for up and coming charity projects, is targeting some of Nigeria’s social issues.

5 Social Issues Dividing Nigeria

  1. Poverty — Even though Nigeria is one of the top crude oil producers in Africa, its government has neglected to spread the wealth into rural communities. Instead of funding necessities such as proper infrastructure, much of oil producers’ revenue is given to the “rich elite.” With a population of 195 million people, 40% are living below the poverty line. To live below the poverty line means that families in Nigeria make less than 137,430 Naira per year. This is equivalent to $381.75.
  2. Unemployment — Currently Nigeria’s unemployment rate is at an all-time high, with 27.1% of the population left without a job. This accounts for every one in two people. According to Quartz Africa, 27.1 million people are out of work in Nigeria. This is due to the government struggling to create new jobs to boost the economy. According to the World Bank, “Given that the economy is expected to grow more slowly than the population, living standards are expected to worsen.”
  3. Corruption — Transparency International has declared Nigeria one of Africa’s most corrupt countries as of 2016. Listed 146 out of 180 countries, corruption in Nigeria is a significant factor holding its people back from raising themselves out of poverty. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, bribery, nepotism and voter buying and three other factors all contribute to the corruption and poverty in Nigeria. “Some of the Nigerian politicians and people in ruling offices in just one year make as much as other citizens would make in 65 years,” states Effecting Change In Nigeria in its platform.
  4. Education — In Nigeria, education inequality is a major issue. Due to gender-based biases, girls’ education is not valued as much as boys. Additionally, Muslim girls receive favor over Christian girls when it comes to receiving a proper education. What region you live in also plays an important factor in education. Girls living in the northeast are more likely to get an education than those living in the northwest although the numbers are not that far from each other. According to UNICEF, 47.7% of girls are out of school in the northeast compared to 47.3% of girls in the northwest. This is almost half of all girls in Nigeria.
  5. Terrorism — Boko Haram, meaning “western education is forbidden,” is a terrorist group in Nigeria. Boko Haram is against adopting western culture; this includes voting, dressing differently and secular education. Since 2011 this terrorist group has killed more than 35,000 people and continues to attack villages, police stations and religious or political groups. The group gained national attention in 2014 when they kidnapped more than 200 girls from a local school.

Global Giving

Global Giving is an organization that connects other nonprofits with potential donors. It works with individual donors, other nonprofits and companies to help them safely donate anywhere in the world. Since 2002, Global Giving has assisted in raising $526 million for causes around the globe. So far, 27,941 projects are in place in 170 different countries.

One project Global Giving is helping with is the Empowering Victims of Boko Haram Violence in Nigeria project. The Center for Sustainable Development and Education In Africa started this project to help victims of Boko Haram. The project aims to build a “skills acquisition center” in North-Eastern Nigeria to give support to rape victims, widows and others the terrorist group affected. In two years, the project raised $28,500.

The CSDEA has another project called Save Street Children in Nigeria. The goal of this project is to help 1.5 million homeless children get off the streets. If the project raises $25,000 then 10,000 children can go to school and receive food and shelter. In the past two years, the cause has collected $1,055. One can make donations at Global Giving’s projects.

– Jessica LaVopa
Photo: Flickr 

The EndSARS Movement in NigeriaSocial media is becoming a diversified platform that has been vital to the fight against police brutality in Nigeria. Nigerian citizens have experienced years of unjust violence by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), including armed robberies, rapes, torture and unsystematic killings. For Nigerian citizens, media censorship on television has led to the circulation of the hashtag #EndSARS on social media sites. People have taken to Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok and other platforms to post news and videos of the violence incurred. Through the #EndSARS movement in Nigeria, young Nigerian activists are emerging and are critical to the new wave of international awareness.

What is SARS?

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a police force, was assembled in 1992 by the Nigerian Government to cope with the failings of the Nigerian Police Force. Emboldened by their power to arrest and monitor crimes, the group has increasingly used its authority to engage in dangerous tactics and fear-mongering.

Among protests and complaints, Amnesty International has investigated and determined numerous unlawful killings and human rights abuses. 2015 marked the first set of promises, made by Nigerian President Buhari, to disband and restructure SARS. However, after years of promising reform to appease citizens, the government has not implemented any effective actions to deter the unit.

SARS has promoted corruption and violence toward citizens, especially against an evolving population of youth. There are many reports of youth being harassed by SARS for their new technology, clothing styles, hairstyles and tattoos. In protest, Nigeria’s youth have been leaders and catalysts in organizing the #EndSARS movement. A viral video in December 2017 depicted a murder committed by SARS, and since then youth have consistently used social media to document violence done by SARS. A revival of the hashtag #EndSARS occurred in October 2020 and has created a resurgence of conversation about the issue.

Leading the International Awareness of SARS

With a limitation on media coverage of protests and SARS criticism, Nigerians have taken to social media to spread the message. Protestors have created a unified voice among supporters without endorsing an individual leader of the movement. Private citizens with their phones are the main information source and record first-hand videos of the violence. For example, an Instagram Live of protestors being shot and wounded by Nigerian military officials garnered global media coverage. The shift from traditional media to social media has been an advantage to the #EndSARS movement.

The grassroots movement has diverted from the repressive Nigerian media and toward an inclusive citizen-led campaign online. Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok are serving as major platforms for Nigerians to organize protests, volunteer and donate. Twitter users offered to pay phone bills of protestors to continue the spread of information online. Other protestors began crowdfunding donations to supply food to protestors, posting specific details relating to peaceful protests or sharing medical aid, legal aid and mental health hotlines. The variety of evidence and resources circulating on social media has bolstered the international podium of #EndSARS.

The turmoil of police brutality in Nigeria has been fiercely combatted by a new generation of youth activists. Social media has ignited an international drive to end the corruption of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Tangible change is coming about with protests and aid spread globally on social media. The Nigerian youth are using technology to their advantage and are moving to end a period of instability through the #EndSARS movement in Nigeria.

– Eva Pound
Photo: Flickr

Cocoa Farmers in Africa
As the fourth largest export in the world, cocoa production has been a part of the global market ever since its introduction to Nigeria in 1984. Many big brand chocolate and ice cream companies such as Mars, Hershey and Snickers are dependent on this market, though much of the revenue does not go towards cocoa farmers or workers. In 2014, chocolate sales reached up to $100 billion, yet cocoa farmers were living off a wage of $1.25 per day. Here is some information about cocoa farmers in Africa and how Ben & Jerry’s supports them.

Child Labor in Cocoa Farming

With rising demands for cocoa production and insufficient compensation, cocoa farmers in Africa are less reluctant to discontinue the use of child labor. A study from the University of Chicago reported that about 1.6 million children work in cocoa farms, mostly found in Ghana and Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire)—the two largest cocoa production sites. Ghana and Ivory Coast occupy two-thirds of the world’s cocoa bean production, both of which exploit poor children as young as 5-years-old that need to support their families.

Despite the slowed rates of child labor in Africa’s cocoa production, farmers and working children struggle to maintain any comfortable income to support themselves. Cocoa trees take years to cultivate and harvest, which is too time-consuming for a volatile and unreliable market price. Nongovernmental organizations that strive to end child labor in Africa speculate that the cocoa farmer’s insufficient income stems from supply chains. Although programs are in place to reduce child labor and raise farmers in the supply chain to be self-sufficient, cocoa production does not yield enough to combat poverty among the farmers and workers in the industry.

Ben & Jerry’s and Fairtrade

On Nov. 17, 2020, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand released a statement that announced its commitment to paying a livable wage to the cocoa farmers in Africa. In partnership with Fairtrade, Ben & Jerry’s plans to allocate funds towards Fairtrade’s Premiums, which are supplemental bonuses that farmers receive for quality work. With extra funding, cocoa farmers have been able to build health facilities and install essential services such as a water pump or solar panels.

Fairtrade also released its new mission statement to provide a livable income for its workers in the cocoa sector. By focusing on multidimensional poverty alleviation for cocoa workers, Fairtrade plans to allocate funds to implement assistant programs, make partnerships to push for sustainability, and push for policies to protect small stakeholders in poverty. By collaborating with Ben & Jerry’s, both brands guarantee financial support towards the 168,000 cocoa farmers abiding by environmentally-friendly structures and producing quality ingredients.

Looking Forward

Ben & Jerry’s continues to promote Fairtrade and the push for liveable wages in Ivory Coast and Ghana’s cocoa bean plantations. In its recent statement, it announced, “As part of our new price commitment for the cocoa we will work with Fairtrade to evaluate and be sure we are making a positive difference for farmers.” By marking its Fairtrade partnership on cocoa-based ice creams, Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie will now be a reminder that consumers are supporting businesses in Africa.

– Linda Chong
Photo: Flickr

CCT Programs in NigeriaDespite having some of the greatest potential for development in Africa and a vast amount of resources, Nigeria remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Over the years, the Nigerian Government has attempted to implement various poverty alleviation strategies in order to diminish poverty. Unfortunately, little progress has been made. However, more recently, the Nigerian Government has started implementing a new strategy in order to fight the persistent poverty in the country through Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programs. It is hopeful that CCT programs in Nigeria will bring lasting benefits for impoverished communities.

The Success Rates of CCT Programs

Around the world, CCT programs have become increasingly popular and have been overwhelmingly successful. Positive results have also been seen in certain regions in Africa. As explained by the World Bank, “Cash transfers targeted to the poor, particularly children and other vulnerable groups, now help millions of Africans to support their basic consumption, avoid destitution and respond to shocks.” To achieve this success, most programs focus efforts toward providing cash transfers to poor families with children. In return for these transfers, families must maintain their children’s school attendance as well as keep up with regular health checkups. As a result, the country profits through an increase in the value of its human capital.

The COPE CCT Program

Beginning in 2007, the Nigerian Government implemented the In Care of the People (COPE) CCT program, which at the time was the only nationwide government-sponsored CCT program. The program was launched across 12 Nigerian states and aimed to break intergeneration poverty through cash transfers with the conditions that households maintained their children’s school attendance of at least 80% and receive regular immunizations and healthcare visits.

In the development of COPE, one of the main goals that the Nigerian Government was hoping to achieve was to reduce poverty short-term and promote an increase in the value of human capital in the long-term. Although many Nigerian citizens benefited from the CCT program, there were complications in the execution of the program. One key example that is necessary for the program to succeed is to extend the length of time in which households participate in the program. When first implemented, the program only lasted a year for participating families. However, in order to effectively assist these households, it is important that the Nigerian Government expand the period of time in which families can benefit from the cash transfers.

The Kano State CCT Program

While the COPE CCT program was designed to impact different states across Nigeria, the Kano CCT program took a different approach. The Kano State government implemented a pilot of this CCT program from 2010 to 2012 in order to increase female school attendance and reduce female drop-out rates in the specific region.

Although the COPE CCT program did not have overwhelming success, the Kano CCT program did see some success. For example, data from the World Bank shows that the number of girls enrolled in school slightly increased from 47% in 2009 to 50%  in 2011. However, there were also unexpected decreases in rates despite the CCT program. In Kano, in 2009, 47% of girls enrolled in class one enrolled in class six in, while in 2011, only 41% of those enrolled in class one were in class six.

Regardless of conflicting outcomes, the World Bank still rates the program’s efficiency as substantial. In Kano, the savings from the CCT program were also spent on the construction of additional boreholes and toilets in the schools.

Although the program itself still needs further development, the Kano CCT program has the potential to benefit households living in poverty as well as further improve female education attendance and drop-out rates.

The Potential of CCT Programs in Nigeria

Although these CCT programs still need improvement with regard to execution and development, the programs show great promise in reducing poverty rates, breaking intergeneration cycles of poverty and increasing the value of human capital in Nigeria. This is especially hopeful considering the success of the programs in other African countries. Because these programs target the health and education of youth living in poverty, these strategies help to create a strong foundation for children, thus creating a path for them to escape poverty in the future. With continued efforts to improve and develop these CCT programs in Nigeria, there is potential to greatly expand and improve Nigeria’s economy over time and reduce poverty in the region.

– Caroline Dunn
Photo: Flickr

Gender inequality in Nigeria'sEvery day the world becomes more dependant on computers. In the modern era, impoverished communities often lack access to technology. Therefore, technology is inaccessible in many developing countries. However, Nigeria finds itself in a unique position; the country’s ICT (information and communication technologies) sector has grown significantly since the early 2000s. In fact, Nigeria hosts “Africa’s biggest technology market and accounts for 23% of internet users in Africa with 122 million people online in December 2018.” Unfortunately, there is gender inequality in Nigeria’s tech industry and in many other countries around the globe.

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin 

Nigeria’s technology industry has brought much wealth to the country. But, it is important to consider the demographics of this innovative sector. According to the Women’s Technology Empowerment Center, Nigeria has a sizable gender gap. The technology sector, in particular, does not employ many women. “According to the National Bureau of Statistics, women make up on average just 22% of the total number of engineering and technology university graduates each year.” Similarly, a fifth of the people working in the information and technology sector are women. Thankfully, some women, including Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, have taken it upon themselves to solve gender inequality in Nigeria’s tech industry.

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin leads the fight to close the gender gap in Nigeria’s technology sector. Ajayi-Akinfolarin was born in Akure, Nigeria. She attended the Nigerian School of Information Technology and the University of Lagos, where she received her BSc in Business administration. Ajayi-Akinfolarin began her professional career as an intern for E.D.P. Audit and Security Associates where she eventually became an associate consultant. During her time there, Ajayi-Akinfolarin became aware of the huge gender gap in the information and technology sector; thus, Ajayi-Akinfolarin refocused her career.

Pearls Africa

In 2012, Ajayi-Akinfolarin founded Pearls Africa, an NGO that provides young women with the resources to pursue a career in STEM. For Ajayi-Akinfolarin, taking this step meant leaving a comfortable career. However, she believes fighting for her community is more important; “We want girls to be creators of tech, not mere users. Watching them write code is beautiful. Many of them never touched a computer before they got here. It’s mind-blowing. The joy on their faces, that’s more than money.”

While Pearls Africa is intended for women pursuing STEM, their overarching goal is to improve lives by reducing poverty. Along with teaching STEM, Pearls Africa teaches women about “ethics, leadership skills, self-empowerment/development, confidence, public speaking, and self-esteem, which leads to economic independence.”

Pearls Africa deserves praise not for their goals, mission or philosophy, but for their achievements. Since 2012, “the organization has trained over 400 young women to code.” They offer eight additional programs that offer different services as well. Some of these programs focus on women’s empowerment, developing leadership skills in young women. Meanwhile, other programs offer aid. For example, Pearls Africa’s medical outreach program provides free health care assistance in Lagos, Nigeria.

Recognition

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin recognizes that technology is here to stay. Her foundation’s work to empower young women with tech access and skills is beyond remarkable. Unsurprisingly, Ajayi-Akinfolarin has received multiple awards in recognition of her work. In 2018, she was recognized as Woman of the Year by the ONE Campaign, and “she was named one of the 10 CNN Heroes of The Year.”  Organizations like Ajayi-Akinfolarin’s must be supported in their fight to bring opportunities to impoverished communities. Hopefully, Ajayi-Akinfolarin will continue to have success and inspire women to fight gender inequality in Nigeria’s tech industry as well as the global industry.

Ana Paola Asturias
Photo: Flickr