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Hundreds of School Children in Nigeria Join Global Fight for Climate Action

To achieve this, she started planting trees around her school and neighborhood, and recycles used plastic bags into shower cap

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School, Children, Nigeria
FILE - Nigerian youths gather to protest climate change and poor environmental practices, in Abuja, Nigeria, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

Sixteen-year old Faithwins Iwuh — who is sometimes referred to as Nigeria’s Greta Thunberg — wants Nigeria to contribute to the global fight against climate change.

To achieve this, she started planting trees around her school and neighborhood, and recycles used plastic bags into shower caps.

Iwuh says she has been concerned about the effects of poor environmental practices for years.

“I started having this guilt anytime I see someone throw something out the window or I see people dispose wrongly,” she said. “I felt as if they were harming me and when I began to think about it, in a certain way they were harming me because it’s my future. If I do not take care of it now, I may not have a generation.”

School, Children, Nigeria
FILE – Protesters march to demand action on climate change, on the streets in Lagos, Nigeria, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

An estimated 4 million students worldwide have taken part in the “Fridays for Future” movement, launched by Thunberg in Sweden in August 2018.

In recent months, hundreds of schoolchildren in NIgeria joined the movement. Two weeks ago, 300 students from 10 schools walked out of classes to protest in Abuja.

Fanny Nyalander, the Swedish ambassador to Nigeria, calls the action “inspiring.”

“I think it’s fantastic to see the young generation taking responsibilities and asking for climate action to be taken [seriously] — because it is their future and their future planet that is endangered,” she said. “So it is incredible and very inspiring to see that young people of Nigeria are standing up and asking for actions to be taken.”

Also Read- UN Calls People to Favour Products Containing Plastic Recycled from Waste

Iwuh, however, is concerned that awareness of environmental threats in Nigeria remains low.

“Not very many people know about this,” she said. “Only a handful know about this problem. I’m lucky to be one of the few that know about this and I’m trying my best to sell the idea to the world that it needs to save it from ending.”

Nigeria is the biggest importer of fossil fuel-powered generators in Africa, and therefore one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.

Environmental experts like David Michael say climate change has serious consequences in Nigeria.

School, Children, Nigeria
Sixteen-year old Faithwins Iwuh — who is sometimes referred to as Nigeria’s Greta Thunberg — wants Nigeria to contribute to the global fight against climate change. Pixabay

“Unfortunately, we in Africa contribute very little to the course of climate change, less than 3 percent, but we’re the most vulnerable continent,” he said. “And, of course, in Nigeria here the effects are everywhere — the desertification up north, sea rise down south, in the middle belt, the crisis between farmers and herders.”

At a summit last December, Nigeria was one of 195 countries and territories that agreed to take steps to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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In real-world politics, that pledge is more likely to be fulfilled if more schoolchildren like Iwuh demand immediate action toward that goal. (VOA)

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Measles Kills 140,000 people, WHO Calls it “Collective Failure”

WHO Decries 'Collective Failure' as Measles Kills 140,000

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Measles- WHO
A child reacts after receiving a measles-rubella vaccination in Yangon, Myanmar. VOA

Measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000, mostly children, as devastating outbreaks of the viral disease hit every region of the world, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

In figures described by its director general as “an outrage,” the WHO said most of last year’s measles deaths were in children under five years old who had not been vaccinated.

“The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” said the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus.

The picture for 2019 is even worse, the WHO said, with provisional data up to November showing a three-fold increase compared with the same period in 2018.

The United States has already reported its highest number of measles cases in 25 years in 2019, while four countries in Europe — Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and Britain — lost their WHO “measles-free” status in 2018 after suffering large outbreaks.

An ongoing outbreak of measles in South Pacific nation of Samoa has infected more than 4,200 people and killed more than 60, mostly babies and children, in a battle complicated by a vocal anti-vaccination movement.

Globally, measles vaccination rates have stagnated for almost a decade, the WHO said. It and the UNICEF children’s fund say that in 2018, around 86% of children got a first dose of measles vaccine through their country’s routine vaccination services, and fewer than 70% got the second dose recommended to fully protect them from measles infection.

Highly contagious

Samoa Measles
A child gets vaccinated at a health clinic in Apia, Samoa. Samoa. VOA

Measles is one of the most contagious known diseases — more so than Ebola, tuberculosis or flu. It can linger in the air or on surfaces for several hours after an infected person has been and gone — putting anyone not vaccinated at risk.

In some wealthier nations, vaccination rates have been hit by some parents shunning them for what they say are religious or philosophical reasons. Mistrust of authority and debunked myths about links to autism also weaken vaccine confidence and lead some parents to delay protecting their children.

Research published in October showed that measles infection not only carries a risk of death or severe complications including pneumonia, brain damage, blindness and deafness, but can also damage the victim’s immune memory for months or years — leaving those who survive measles vulnerable to other dangerous diseases such as flu or severe diarrhea.

The WHO data showed there were an estimated 9,769,400 cases of measles and 142,300 related deaths globally in 2018. This compares to 7,585,900 cases and 124,000 deaths in 2017.

Also Read- UN Aims at Curbing Carbon Emissions Globally

In 2018, measles hit hardest in Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine, the WHO said, with these five nations accounting for nearly half of global cases.

Robert Linkins, a specialist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the data were worrying: “Without improving measles vaccine coverage we’re going to continue to see these needless deaths. We must turn this trend around.” (VOA)