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As part of activities to mark this year’s World Environment Day, Cuso International in collaboration with the Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Calabar, Nigeria held an exhibition for students and environment related partners.
The exhibition was aimed at increasing the understanding of the students in the university on the importance of environmental protection and how they can live in harmony with their environment. The theme of 2017 World Environment Day is “Connecting People to Nature.”
The Programme Manager, Natural Resource Management, YouLead project, Mr Godwin Ugah, who spoke at the exhibition highlighted some pressing environmental issues such as climate change, energy efficiency, waste management and sustainable agriculture. He explained that the products being exhibited are environmentally friendly and some were made from recycled materials.
Mr Ugah noted that continuous use of fossil fuels is responsible for climate change. He explained that farmers can comfortably engaged themselves in modern agriculture which helps them increase their efficiency and reduce the amount of natural resources such as water and land utilized in farming. He however advised that positive steps should be taken by students, agriculturalist and environmentalist to ensure environmental sustainability.
Some of the products displayed include home appliances such as solar powered pressing iron, fans and lights; agricultural produce, organic fertilizer and agro-processing equipment made from recycled metals; energy efficient stoves and biomass briquettes for making fire.
One of the exhibitors Mr Mfon Essien who practices sustainable agriculture said that the exhibition will showcase to upcoming environmentalists and agriculturalists diverse methods of utilizing perceived waste to our advantage without hurting the environment.
The exhibition was preceded by a mini rally and cleanup of the university’s surroundings and its botanical garden.
In line with its goal to create 2000 jobs for unemployed youth, Cuso International’s YouLead project recently organized two job fairs in the Central Senatorial District and the Northern Senatorial Districts of Cross River State.
The main objectives of organizing the Job Fair were two–fold: to provide a platform for job seekers to meet potential employers for employment, and to increase the understanding of jobseekers on skills and experiences that are needed for their desired career.
Speaking at the job fair, the Program Manager, Entrepreneurship and Value Chain component of the YouLead project, Mr James Odey, revealed that the job fair would build the capacity of jobseekers on knowledge about qualifications, skills and expectations of employers, and provide them with resources and information to make important and valuable career decisions.
He said, “Besides securing employment, the fair is a medium to train youths on how best to present themselves to employers and how to write curriculum vitae that would be appealing for possible hiring.”
While speaking on employable skills employers expect from job seekers, the Youth Mobilization Officer, YouLead project, Ngozi Izuora, she stressed the need to young people to identify the skillset that makes them employable. She said, “Being employable, means that the applicant possesses a mix of three skills to position him/her for a role. These skills include taking initiative, team work, problem solving, self–management and personal attributes.”
Equally, Katherine Connolly, an international volunteer of Cuso International, provided tips on job search tools including, Curriculum Vitae(CVs), Cover letter and a Resume, while the Programme Officer, YouLead project, Doris Elekwachi facilitated a mock session on ‘meeting a prospective employer.’
As part of efforts to strengthen primary health care delivery and reduce maternal and infant mortality, Cuso International Volunteer, Mr Jon Ntewak delivered some medical supplies from Not Just Tourists Toronto, to a primary health care facility at Akpabuyo Local Government Area in Cross River State.
While handing over the medical supplies to the primary health care facility, the Programme Manager, VOICE, Mr Uko Ekott said that Cuso International in Nigeria has a health component which builds partnership with government, communities and non–governmental organizations to drive development, empower communities and improve live.
He said, “We have had about 21 volunteers who have come to support our country in one way or the other. One of our volunteers took interest in the healthcare system. He wanted to provide basic supplies that will benefit pregnant women. He did some research and found an organization that will donate medical supplies to improve healthcare facilities in Cross River State. He was able to bring some medical supplies from Not Just Tourist Canada to Nigeria, and we are here to deliver the supplies to the health facility.”
Director General, Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Betta Edu, who received the medical supplies, reaffirmed the commitment of Cross River State Government to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the state. She noted that collaborative effort is needed reduce maternal and child mortality in the state.
She said, “We are happy that we have partners like Cuso International to support our health care system and with our joint effort, we will work to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the state. We want to thank Cuso International for the support they have provided and we hope that we will continue to partner to do more.”
Cuso International Volunteer, Mr Jon Ntewak also revealed his motivation for delivering the medical supplies. He said, “When I was in Nigeria last year, I visited some healthcare facilities and I was sad to see that they are in dire need. I did some research into organizations that can provide medical supplies and I discovered Not Just Tourists Toronto. They encourage people to come in and take these supplies and deliver them to where it is needed.” Mr Ntewak however encouraged other volunteers coming into Nigeria to bring a box of medical supplies to help save lives.
YouLead project implemented by Cuso International in Nigeria has advocated for increased participation of women in green entrepreneurship. The call was made during the launch of the project’s information campaign themed, ‘Promoting Inclusive Green Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Economic Growth.’
Speaking at the event, the Country Director Cuso International Nigeria, Mr Ebrima Sonko said that the campaign is aimed at sensitizing stakeholders on gender responsive and environmentally responsible practices that will ensure equitable participation of women and men in economic activities in the natural resource sectors of Cross River State.
He said, “We looked at some of the barriers that limit women from participating in business activities, such as access to finance, access to land, access to information, access to market and training, with a view to promote a more inclusive green entrepreneurship for young women and men.”
Delivering a keynote address at the meeting, a Consultant Folusho Olaniyan outlined the potentials of Cross River State in agriculture development. She said, “There are latent business potentials in Cross River State’s abundant natural resources and opportunities for inclusive entrepreneurship development.”
Mrs Olaniyan, noted that, “Cross River State contributes 12.5 percent to the national production of cassava, 1.9 in oil palm, 4.2 percent to rice production and 19.8 percent of its cocoa to the national average of 350,000 metric tons. In aquaculture and poultry, the state can expand livestock production by encouraging increased participation of young women and men between the ages of 18 to 35 to venture into the sector.”
Equally, the Team Leader of YouLead Project, Mr. Jerry Nwigwe highlighted that empowering women is a key element for long–term sustainable development, economic growth, resilient societies and social advancement.
The forum, attracted traditional leaders, farmers, members of the business community in Cross River State, First Secretary, Economic Affairs, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, as well as non–governmental agencies in partnership with Cuso International.
Cuso International is a Canadian development organisation that works to reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of volunteers, collaborative partnerships and compassionate donors. Head of Programmes Africa, Patricia Wall, in this interview with Anietie Akpan, Deputy Bureau Chief, South South, talks about how youth unemployment and poverty can be tackled through entrepreneurship and others, Excerpts:
What are Cuso International’s programmes in Nigeria?
CUSO International’s work is driven by authentic engagement with, and accountability to the people and communities involved. Our key areas of focus include community, health and livelihood development.
Small businesses rely heavily on generators to run their ventures as a result of irregular power supply in the country. This makes energy one of their highest cost heads, which invariably reduces their profit.
Green Entrepreneurship Show is radio programme produced by YouLead project to inform and educate communities about opportunities that exist for young women and men in the natural resource sector value chains, with focus on gender responsive and environmental sustainability practices.
The 30–minute innovative magazine–style radio programme focuses on opportunities that exist for youth in various value chains supported by YouLead project, with a view to promote employment and entrepreneurship among the listeners.
The programme also focuses on the lives of young women and men trained by YouLead project, their struggles with unemployment and their journey into entrepreneurship. These on–air role models act as positive examples, encouraging listeners to adopt certain behaviours over time.
The Youth Leadership Entrepreneurship Access and Development project (YouLead), implemented by Cuso International, today held a forum to drive more responsive implementation of natural resource management policies and practices in Cross River State.
The YouLead project works to reduce youth unemployment by improving entrepreneurial and labour force capacities of young women and men, as well as the policies, regulations and enabling environment required to increase jobs and economic opportunities in natural resources.
This is being achieved in two ways: first, through capacity building of partners and stakeholders (CRS Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); CSOs; training organizations and youth resource centers) to deliver skills training in entrepreneurship, as well as support to young women and men entrepreneurs through improved financial services and products. And second, through strengthening the policy framework, and collaboration on promoting green jobs in a green economy.
The Programme Manager, Policy and Natural Resource Management, YouLead project, Mr Godwin Ugah said that capacity assessment was conducted on 17 local government area councils in Cross River State, to assess their operational capacity and identify strengths and areas for improvement, with a view to effectively drive the green economy concept.
He said, “Having concluded the assessment, the forum will share findings from the assessment conducted and develop an implementation action plan to drive more responsive implementation of natural resource management policies and practices.”
The Youth Leadership Entrepreneurship, Access and Development (YouLead) project being implemented by Cuso International in Nigeria, launched a Private Sector Engagement Initiative with its partners and relevant private and public organisations.
The Private Sector Engagement Initiative is aimed at mobilizing and engaging with relevant private sector actors for mutual benefit in the enhancement of sustainable economic growth for young women and men in Cross River State.
Delivering her key note address, themed ‘Promoting Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Nigeria’, the Founder of LEAP Africa, co–founder of AACE Foods and Director Sahel Capital, Mrs Ndidi Nwuneli, said that the number one priority for everyone participating in the programme is jobs. She explained that, “about 1.8 million youth enter the job market yearly, however only 10 per cent can be absorbed.”
She noted that the high unemployment has serious implications for national productivity and growth, social cohesion, political stability and national security. She explained that the myriad of problems faced by the society can be addressed through social innovation and social enterprise. She said, “As entrepreneurs, you are not just creating businesses but you are creating innovations that affects the lives of others in a positive way.”
She added that social innovations can be either profit–making or non–profit–making and can operate in the private, public and non–profit sectors. She said that If Nigeria’s population is going to be 450 million by 2050 as projected, social innovation is critical to solving the mounting problems that will confront society.
The Head of Programs in Africa, Cuso International, Patricia Walls, urged the participants to contribute to social change by using their creativity to come up with social innovations that would solve some of the world’s social problems.
In her closing remarks, the Acting Country Director, Cuso International Nigeria, Dr. Kenna Owoh commended the participants for their active participation and encouraged them to collaborate with Cuso International to drive social innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
The event also featured a panel discussion on ‘Building Profitable Businesses with Social Impact’ which was moderated by the Manager of Gems3 project, Mrs. Geraldine Oku.
The Youth Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Access and Development project held a job fair for unemployed youth in the capital of Cross River State. The job fair which had in attendance over four hundred youth, served as a platform for potential employees to meet face to face with employers in order to get employed.
The Programme Manager, Entrepreneurship and Value Chain, Mr James Odey, who spoke at the opening ceremony explained that the job fair is in harmony with the goal of the YouLead project to train 12, 000 youth, establish 4,500 businesses and create 2,000 jobs.
He said, “We have a mandate to support employment and entrepreneurship for young women and men between the ages of 18–35. The job fair is part of the implementation of the Youlead project. The idea is to bring our employers and potential employees together.”
Equally, the Labour Market Economics Expert from the Institute of Public Affairs Canada (IPAC), Mr Akin Alaga explained that the Job fair is part of an evolving process aimed at reducing the significantly high youth unemployment in Cross River State. “About 50 percent of youth in Cross River State are unemployed and we are trying to address this through the job fair. We aim to get the potential labour force of youth and train them in such a way that their skill set match up with the needs of employers,” he said.
The job seekers who participated in the job fair also had an opportunity to have their first interview with employers who were hiring, and also identified institutions offering vocational trainings, skill building training and internships programmes.