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WED: Challenges Of Coastal Erosion In Rivers

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Small Island Develop
ing States (SIDs), Raise Your Voice Not The Sea Level.”
That was the theme and sub-theme respectively of this year’s World Environment Day (WED).
The World Environment Day was introduced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to draw global attention to the devastating impact of climate change on the environment.
For last year, the celebration had the theme; “Think, Eat, Save, Reduce Your Footprint,” while for this year. It is Small Island Developing States (SIDs).”
The significance of this year’s celebration was that attention was being focused on the environmental challenges confronting Small Island Nations, which are vulnerable to ocean surge.
Rivers State by its geographical location is a littoral state with small islands that are already feeling the effect of climate change.
Some of these islands in Rivers State are; Andoni, Bonny Okrika, Opobo and Kalabari among others.
The grand finale of the celebration in Rivers State which took place at the Alfred Diette Spiff Civic Centre was attended by corporate organisations and individuals.
Among the corporate organizations that attended the celebration included:  the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), Indorama Nigeria Limited Nigeria Limited Natural Gas Liquefied (NLNG) and other international oil corporations (IOCs).
Also at the event were representatives of the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
Among personalities at the celebration include: Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, ably represented by the Commissioner for Employment Generation and Empowerment, Dr. Ipalibo Harry, Chairman, Rivers State House of Asssembly Committee on Environment, Hon. (Mrs) Victoria Nyeche, Professor Winston Bellgam, Dr Okikere Iragunima, Chief Medical Director, Rivers State Hospital Management Board, Dr Nyema Weli, Commissioner for Environment Rivers State and his health counterpart, Dr Sampson Parker, among others.
The Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Environment, Hon. Mrs Victoria Nyeche, in her opening remark said that, the theme for the celebration must be localised to reflect the environmental realities facing the state.
Hon Nyeche, who was chairman of the occasion, regretted that the World Environment Day celebration had become a yearly ritual without definite steps being taken by the authorities to address problems highlighted during celebration.
According to her, the objective of the celebration will be defeated, if the government fails to address it.
She, however, said that, the issue of saving our environment from pollution must be seen as a collective effort by all as the government alone cannot do it.
“There must be a resolution to do something to improve the environment,” she said.
Hon.  Nyeche said that the Rivers State House of Assembly has taken steps to improve the environment especially with the passage of the Rivers State Waste Management Bill into law and urged the State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to give his accent to the bill.
In his welcome address, the Commissioner for Environment, Dr Nyema Weli said that the theme was to call attention of the international community to threat of sub mergence of coastal communities across the world, following the rising sea level.
Dr Weli said that Rivers State was not immune from this threat as tidal erosion was threatening the existence of many riverine communities in the state.
The commissioner, who attributed this situation to the anti-environmental activities of man, said that, time has come for the enactment of policies and programmes to check  man’s activities on the environment.
Acording to him, “we have contributed to the problem of green house gases.”
“This is the time to remind all to reduce our carbon emission and cherished processes that encourage us to dispose our waste properly.”
He said that the ministry has proposed a new Rivers State Environmentla Management Bill to ensure sustainable environment for the state.
The commissioner also advocated tree planting exercise across the state to check tidal and other forms of erosion while environmentally friendly electronic gadgets must be used by homes across the State.
The State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Employment Generation and Empowerment, Dr Ipalibo Harry, urged the Federal Government to treat the state as a special area in view of its vulnerability to ocean surge and other natural disasters.
Rt. Hon. Amaechi said that the state government has professionalised waste management system in the state, while increased budgetary allocation has been made to the Rivers State Minsitry of Environment.
He condemned the continous building on water right of ways by some residents of the State as well as the continous use of dynamites by fishermen.
The Governor urged Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) to wake up to their responsibilities of checking some anti-environmental practices in the state, such as the use of tyres to roast meat  in abattoirs among others.
In his keynote address, Professor Winston Bellgam explained that Rivers State and the entire Niger Delta have peculiar environmental challenges that distinguishes them from the rest of the country.
Professor Bellgam said that time has come for the Nigerian government to put in place processes towards the development of the coastal areas.
A cross section of the people who attended the event said that the position of Hon. Victoria Nyeche, must be taken seriously in order to realise the objective of the celebration.
They also urged the government  to give more attention to the problem of coastal communities as some of them would in the nearest future become extinct due to rising sea level.
It would be recalled that before the grand final, awareness campaign was carried out by the government in Bonny and Ngo, while a tree planting exercise was carried out at the Isaac  Boro Park.

Cross section of participants at the 2014 World Environment Day celebration in Port Harcourt, recently.

Cross section of participants at the 2014 World Environment Day celebration in Port Harcourt, recently.

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World Water Day And Provision Of Clean Water

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The declaration by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in far back 1992 could be said to have set the stage for the annual World Water Day celebrations across the globe.
However, the first World Water Day  was celebrated in1993
It would be recalled that the United Nations had set aside 22nd of every year as World Water Day
Information  available to The Tide has it that the concept of World Water Day was suggested in Agenda 21 during the 3rd _14th 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It was also learnt that later in December that year, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution,A/RES/47/193 designating March 22 as World Water Day.
It went on to say that the event was to highlight the importance of fresh water and advocate for the sustainable management of this important natural resources
For this year’s, the theme was “Water For Peace”
And as a part of the global community, the Rivers State Government also joined its counterparts across the world to mark the day.
It would be noted that the Rivers State Government through the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development had  lined up a number of activities to commemorate the day.
Some of the activities include an inspection tour of the ongoing Port Harcourt Mega project with various stakeholders including school children and a symposium.
At  the symposium held at the Hotel Presidential,  Port Harcourt, various speakers highlighted the importance of clean water for the good health and wellbeing of the citizenry.
According to various speakers,  waterborne diseases were a major contributor to the  deaths of many citizens in the country
The conference also acknowledged the effort of the present administration in the State in ensuring clean and quality drinking water for the citizens
While declaring the event open,the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development, Barrister Mrs Patience K Omereji said the celebration should provide the opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on the importance of clean water for the peace and stability of the society.
According to the Permanent Secretary, it behooves on  the people to reflect on the critical role that water plays in fostering peace and stability across the globe
‘With this year’s theme, Water For Peace,”we are reminded of the undeniable connection between access to clean water and the promotion of peaceful coexistence among nations and communities, particularly those sharing borders”
Omereji said that the theme should serve as a wake up call to emphasise the importance of water as a catalyst for peace building effort
“This suggests that ensuring access to clean water and managing water resources sustainably can contribute to conflict prevention and resolution where water rights are prevalent,”she said.
She said the Rivers State Government is not only working hard to ensure citizens get access to clean water but is determined to end open defecation by 2030.
‘Here in Rivers State, under the able leadership of Governor Siminalayi Fubara,we understand that water and sanitation are entwined drivers of public health and as a result have joined the world in ending open defecation by the year 2030 “It is of note that the type of access, quantum of water supply and quality of sanitation facilities available determine to a great extent the quality of life of the people and the potential for poverty alleviation.
“Sustainable service delivery of water supply, sanitation and hygiene as well as environmental sanitation are recognised as important elements for achieving improved health and a sustainable economy for the people of Rivers State.
“This was aptyly recognised in His Excellency Sir Siminalayi Fubara’s campaign manifestoes,”she said.
The Permanent Secretary also told the forum that the administration of Governor Siminalayi Fubara is SDG 6 compliant, adding that the government through the Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development is making concerted efforts in implementing policies and strategies that ensure equitable access to clean water resources while promoting cooperation among stakeholders
“Worthy of note is the ongoing robust works called the Port Harcourt Water supply and sanitation projects that are at various stages of completion
She said the scheme when completed will deliver safe water to homes both within Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
On his part, the former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development, Elder Samuel Ijeoma decried the incessant vandalisation of water facilities by unscrupulous elements in the State.
Ijeoma who said he was happy that the Eleme Water project is functioning, said clean water is very important as water borne diseases kill faster than COVID-19 and other dieseases.
He also decried the proliferation of water satchet factories, adding that many people drink poison in the name of pure water.
The former Permanent Secretary, however, said people must be prepared to pay for clean water as is being done in the developed countries.
He said clean water is not free , noting that even in America, people pay for water consumption.
Ijeoma also said lack of regulation has led to unhygienic practices by some satchet water producers, as some boreholes are sited close to suckaways.
The former Permanent Secretary, who is the Director General of the Rivers State Pensions Board decried the incessant vandalisation of reticulation facilities.
He urged the Ministry to use the annual World Water Day celebration to come up with programmes that will make the citizenry to have access to clean water, stressing that World Water Day had become mere celebrations without concrete results. Ijeoma, who was chairman of the occasion also urged the Ministry to reach out to the Governor on the issue.
In his presentation, the Project Coordinator of the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP), Prof. Nenni- barini Zabbey said HYPREP is on the same page with the Rivers State Government as for as the provision of clean water is concerned.
He said the agency is presently undertaking water project in more than 18 communities across the four Ogoni local government areas .
Zabbey said apart from water projects, the agency is also intervening in the areas of shoreline protection and mangrove resuscitation in Ogoni
According to him, HYPREP will continue to collaborate with the state government in designing and execution of water projects.
General Manager of the Port Harcourt Water Corporation, Chief Ibibia Walter decried the politicisation of water.
He said the water sector has suffered neglect over the years as successive governments do not see it as a necessary campaign tool.
Walter said the proliferation of water agencies has not  even helped in the supply of clean water to the people, adding that in some countries even the MinistrIes of Water Resources was non existent.
He however warned the government to be careful as the scrambled for water may breed future conflicts not only in the state but across the country.
Speaking with newsmen, the Chairman of the Association of Table Water Producers (ATWAP) Oke Okafor denied that satchet water is poisonous.
He said the association has a department that ensures quality control as well as regulate entries into the industry .
Others who spoke pointed out the importance of clean water to the health and wellbeing of the people.
They said time has come for government to ensure that people have access to quality and clean water.
The event also featured a drama sketch by the Rivers State Art Council and a lecture.
Just as it is always said, “water,  water every where but no water to drink.”
Indeed, there is “water everywhere but no water to drink.” This lack of clean water had sometimes resulted to severe cases of waterborne diseases such as Cholera and others.
Just as it was observed at the event, the water day celebration has become an annual ritual but has it translated to provision of quality water for the citizenry? This is a question that stakeholders in the water sector should provide answer to.

By: John Bibor

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Population And The Environment In Nigeria – TooBig To Go Green?

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The “Giant of Africa”, Nigeria is a country rich with natural resources, and the largest population on the continent with 219 million people. Africa’s giant is predicted to get even bigger, as the population is forecast to grow to 377 million people by 2050. However, its natural resources are already under strain, with rising carbon emissions and increasing deforestation.
As part of our series of blogs looking at Nigeria in preparation for our Population Conversation roundtable event next week, we ask: with a booming population, what lies ahead for Nigeria’s environment?
Nigeria has the biggest population and economy in Africa, with a population of 219 million. It’s predicted to overtake the US to become the world’s third most populated country by 2051. Nigeria’s rapid growth is the result of its large young population coming into child-bearing age, with currently half of the population under the age of 19. It’s home to some of Africa’s richest individuals, however stark wealth inequality divides the country, with two-thirds of the population below the poverty line.
Nigeria is a country incredibly susceptible to the effects of climate change. The capital city Lagos bordering on Nigeria’s coastline is vulnerable to rising sea levels. A UN report revealing that many communities in the Niger Delta have lost or fear losing their homes due to coastal erosion.
Rising global temperatures will also endanger Nigerians with an increasing frequency of heat waves. Nigeria’s Climate Risk profile predicts that more than 20% of the population will be exposed to heatwaves that are detrimental to human health. And the number of “very hot days” is set to increase by about 90 days in most regions.
Nigeria’s economy is predominantly built upon oil and gas exports, profits from fossil fuels accounting for 93% of Nigeria’s export revenue. Nigeria produced 129 metric tons of CO2 in 2023, the 4th highest emissions in Africa.
The bulk of Nigeria’s emissions are from oil and gas production, and the practice of “gas venting”, where unwanted gases surfaced during oil production – predominantly methane – are released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas 28 times more potent that carbon dioxide.
There is also “gas flaring”, the practice of burning off surfaced gases, releasing carbon dioxide as a by-product that contributes to emissions. An estimated 6.6 billion cubic metres of gas was flared in Nigeria in 2021 – making it the world’s seventh largest gas flarer.
Despite the massive production of oil and gas, Nigeria has one of the highest rates of energy poverty in the world. The World Economic Forum defines energy poverty as the ‘lack of access to modern energy services and products’, a situation where there is an absence of sufficient choice in accessing adequate, reliable, affordable, safe, and environmentally suitable energy services.
Lawson writes from Lagos.

By: Humphrey Lawson

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Environmentalist Cautions Residents Against Dumping Waste In Drainages 

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Following the advent of rainy season, an environmentalist, Elder Blessing Jackson Tiko has cautioned residents of Port Harcourt City and its environs against dumping refuse into drainages and gutters.
Tiko, who is the Deputy Operations Officer, Port Harcourt City Environmental Sanitation Taskforce  said it has become necessary for residents of the city to know that the rains have started and so, should avoid dumping refuse into drainages and gutters inorder to avoid flooding in the city
Elder Tiko  who spoke to The Tide in an exclusive interview said while government is doing its part to check flooding in the city, residents should also play their part by keeping the drainages and gutters clean.
“My advice to them is to know that the rains are here and they should avoid any thing that will bring back flood to the city.
“They should desist from dumping refuse into drainages and gutters. These things cause flooding, it should be avoided”, he said.
He said the taskforce is ready to assist any street that needs its assistance in terms of evacuation of refuse.
Tiko also described the rainfalls as an answer to prayers, adding that the rains have gone a long way in reducing heat, dust and mosquitoes.
He however blamed the extreme weather on climate change, adding that time has come for both the authorities and individuals to take drastic measures towards checking the trend.
He also commended the Mayor of Port Harcourt, Chief Alwell Ihunda, for his support to the taskforce as well as his commitment towards  the cleanliness of the city.

By: ohn Bibor

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