BALSDA’s executive director, Adeleye Adewale, emphasized the importance of including sexual and reproductive health in the Nigerian government’s climate change conversations and planning, at the organization’s policy brief dissemination workshop in Abuja on Thursday, November 4, headlined ‘Climate Change and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights: Exploring the Linkages.’
Adewale stated there is an odd exclusion of the subject of SRHR from Nigeria’s National Adaptation and Strategy Plan for Action on Climate Change.
The plan aims to reduce risks, develop local and national adaptive ability and resilience, seize new possibilities, and promote global collaboration.
It also aims to promote government-to-government coordination at all levels in order to lessen Nigeria’s susceptibility to climate change’s harmful effects.
However, Adewale stated that Nigeria’s NAP for climate change mitigation like other African countries, does not include any mention of women in terms of SRHR.
Climate change has a deleterious influence on SRHR both directly and indirectly, according to him.
Climate change’s impact on women and girls
Adolescents, individuals with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations, especially those in humanitarian contexts, suffer considerable impediments to SRHR information and services, according to Adewale.
He added that BALSDA’s evaluation of the government’s climate change policy paper revealed gaps in the links between climate change and SRHR.
Adewale said: “As climate change and SRHR issues are interrelated, impacting women’s health and livelihoods, it is important to have policy coordination and integrated response to these realities from the government’s side.”
He added, BALSDA and its partners prepared a policy brief that clearly recognized the relationship between climate change and SRHR to address the shortcomings.
The policy brief, which will be distributed to stakeholders and policymakers, will strengthen the government’s focus on gender concerns in the country’s adaptation efforts.
Adewale said the policy brief presents an opportunity to ensure that Nigeria’s NAP processes take SRHR issues into consideration to avoid missed opportunities for synergies.
It would also ensure that various adaptation actions to climate change do not negatively affect SRHR.
The BALSDA executive director went on to state that the present 26th United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, is a positive development, and that the choices made there would be of enormous value to low-income nations.
He called for an immediate revision of the NAP to include sexual reproductive health problems.
Nigeria’s ministry of environment reacts
Responding, the deputy director of the federal ministry of environment, Aliyu Yauri, said the adaptation strategy policyis a live document that would be improved upon as new results and circumstances arise.
He said: “The ministry of environment is ready to collaborate further even beyond your expectation with your organisation and other partners to seek better ways to ensure that this document serves the purpose for which it was produced.”
Yauri also stated that the ministry will incorporate and integrate BALSDA’s recommendations to emphasize SRHR in policy. He promised that the ministry will continue to fill up the holes in the existing policy to everyone’s satisfaction.
Yauri said that the department of climate change at the ministry of environment will continue to collaborate with BALSDA to meet the needed expectations.
Recommendations for the Nigerian government
Anaza Ngozi of the Society for Women and Girl Child Empowerment also spoke, emphasizing the importance of the government establishing a distinct ministry for climate change.
According to Ngozi, such a step will assist the government in properly addressing climate change challenges and the adaptation process.
“In countries such as Pakistan, there is a ministry of climate change, and this helps to unbundle the issues of the load placed on many ministries to address the impact of climate change,” he added.
He also urged advocacy organizations to persuade the federal government to unbundle various departments in order to address specific concerns and duties.