In continuation of the engagement of journalists on environmental reporting, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) organised the sixth in its series of training for journalists on environmental reporting funded by VIKES the Finnish Foundation on Media Communication and Development.

The event drew attendance of 13 journalists from both electronic and print media organisations in Enugu State and was facilitated by a team of renowned journalists and environmentalists.

The training held from 20-23 September 2011 at Enugu, where issues on the Persisting Environmental Challenges in Nigeria, Journalists and the Right to Know, Gender and the Environment, Environmental Laws in Nigeria and the core of the training reporting the Nigerian environement.

ERA/FoEN started the training in 2009 as a strategy of building the capacity of journalist to identify local environmental issues and to be exposed to similar concerns at the global level. Trainings have held in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Warri and Kano 

Resource persons at the Enugu training included: Tunde Akanni, a journalist and lecturer at the Lagos State University (LASU), Timo Sipola, a journalist with the Finnish Broadcasting Company, Emem Okon of the Kebetkache Women Centre and Nurudeen Ogabara, the executive director of Citizen Center Lagos.

In his opening speech, ERA/FoEN Director, Corporate Accountability and Administration, Akinbode Oluwafemi explained that that the environmental challenges that Nigerians have to contend with are enormous, noting, that the problems cut across the two major divides in Nigeria: the north and south.
Oluwafemi expressed optimism that the media training on environment in Enugu will put the issues discussed on the front burner of national discuss

ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey spoke on Nigeria’s Persisting Environmental Challenges, a topic which elicited so much interest as it dwelt on environmental issues across Nigeria, including gas flaring in Southern Nigeria, desertification in northern Nigeria and gulley erosion in Nigeria’s southeast.

According to Bassey, gully erosion in eastern Nigeria has made huge, yawning gaps on soil once held together by thick vegetation, aside swallowing houses and submerging farmlands. He went on to reveal that there were 1000 prominent gully erosion sites in Anambra State alone including one that is 1000 feet deep and 3000 feet wide at Udongwu and others at Nanka, Ekwuluobia, Agulu and Igboukwu. In Abia State Isiukwuato, Ahaba Imeenyi communities also suffer the same fate just like the Agbani gully erosion in the 1980s led to evacuation of people into a refugee camp. 

He also made mention of cross-regional environmental problems like poor waste management and the parlous urban planning as needing attention and special focus by journalists in order to engender policy responses on the part of government.

He concluded his presentation with a suggestion on what must be done to get Nigeria on track environmental-wise. They include: declaration of a national environmental emergency; Conducting a national environmental audit and management plan; detoxification of the Nigerian environment and strict monitoring of ecological funds for remediating or restoring damaged environment.

Earlier, Peik Johannson of VIKES of the Finnish Foundation on Media Communication and Development which is the funding organization for the training expressed optimism about the ability of the Nigerian media participants to imbibe suggestions on how to improve their identification and writing of environment stories which will ultimately lead to improvement of the Nigerian environment.

The high point of the training was the agreement of the media participants to become members of the Journalist Network for the Environment which ERA/FoEN Head of Media, Philip Jakpor introduced to them as a platform for synergy in engaging critical stakeholders on the environment in order to bring about policy responses on issues of national concern.

The training which holds bi-annually, is a forum for sharing knowledge about local, national and global environmental issues; Examination of challenges facing environmental reporting and exploration of strategies for improving environmental reporting.

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ERA has recently received information that a group calling itself the "Niger Delta Coalition in the Diaspora" is still engaging itself in activities and communications giving the impression that it is linked with Environmental Rights Action (ERA).

This group issues out communications using ERA's headquarter address and mail box. We have never had any ties with this group and any views, comments or opinions expressed by them is not endorsed or authorized by any member of management or staff of ERA.

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