Synopsis: Introducing SRDE’s Comparative Perception and Assessment of Critical Issues of Development and Empowerment in the suburbs of the Third World Nations.

In no generation than ours have much ink and energy been wasted, and the wealth and  scarce resources of the world squandered on debates bothering on the supreme value  and the indispensability of a sustainable environment, and the importance of the holistic empowerment of the world’s  poor rural dwellers and  unengaged youths, especially of the poor third world nations of Asia, Latin America and Africa, in a much echoed global vision to halve the world’s poor by 2015, and if possible, to eradicate poverty from the face of the world within the shortest possible time limit of 2020.

Yet, no civilization has experienced such a gross abuse of the environment, with an attendant perplexing ecological crisis; such a total misplacement of the supreme value of human health; and such a disheartening level of economic/psychological disarmament of the world’s rural and young population, especially of the third world nations, which happen to be homes to the world’s largest most disadvantaged and displaced children, and productive youths.   

However, we can’t exploit nature beyond, ignore the supreme value of human health, nor abandon the fragile but volatile young people at the mercy of the forces of our present anti-people policies without grave consequences.  Hence, while addressing the UN General Assembly on 23rd September 2003 the immediate past UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan clearly warned that “we have come to a fork in the road” and called for a workable solution to provide a way out of this global impasse.

We really have come to a cross road. ‘Where do we go from here?’ is a question that keeps echoing into the deeps and, we can’t ignore it if we don’t want to stand aside, prevaricate the road signs, and watch the world we all share slide into further health burden, economic crisis and social turbulence, ethnic, conflicts, wars and terrorism, with their attendant  single consequence of biting mass poverty.

Hence, the formation and emergence of the Society for Rural Development and Empowerment (SRDE) is a timely answer to the ultimate question “where do we go from here?”  Society for Rural Development and Empowerment (SRDE) as a non governmental/nonprofit organization, is an attempt by a League of sound actors of diverse affiliations:  the academia, the business class, organized Labour, students, civil society, parliamentarians, politicians, passionate private individuals and the organized private sector people, to partner with both the local, national, and international governments, international bodies like the World Bank, IMF, WTO, WHO,UN and other world bodies, the voluntary sector including faith groups and other NGOs in tackling these biting problems facing our world today.
SRDE as an NGO partners with these major players in building a consensus for action through dialogue, education and re-orientation, to redefine misplaced values.  It is a timely response to an age long global dilemma.  As a response to the above problems, we are spurred on by the sudden realization that action to build an efficient frame work of partnership to save the world from this grand deadlock has become increasingly urgent.

  Environmental Health

To get this mission accomplished, SRDE identified three target areas of attention in the global  environmental health crises which call for global attention. The areas include:

  1. Sustainability Advocacy and Campaign
  2. Sanitationa and Hygiene
  3. Safe and Quality Water

These three target areas are so interconnected in a sophisticated  web, except for few differences.  Yet we need to approach them as individually as we can, for better understanding and to appreciate some vital issues.  To fully appreciate SRDE’s choice of the above as its principal areas of prime attention, you would need to properly access their threats, their impacts, and enormity of the burden they pose in the global health crisis and, how SRDE is curbing their menace through its community/rural oriented programs using its uniquely designed framework tagged Local Content Fast track Initiatives (LCFI).

On Sustainability Advocacy and Campaign

In no area of  life have we paid lip serve or better put, played to the gallery, in our campaign for the development and empowerment of the rural dwellers and the teeming young population, than in this single area of environmental sustainability.  The campaign is deafening, yet the irony is so betraying, and the evident failures are very glaring.  And if there is any area in which there is an urgent need for an aggressive re-orientation campaign, it is in this all important area of environmental sustainability

In SRDE, we are partnering with other relevant and key players in the environmental and industrial sectors to give proactive responses to these teething problems facing the poor peri-urban dwellers and unprotected employees.

While approaching the environmental/industrial issues, SRDE follows a three pronged view as put forward by one of the world’s most prestigious sustainability think tank, Bob Willard; that:

  1. The goal of corporation is to survive and prosper, to be a sustainable enterprise. To achieve this goal, companies must create more values than they consume, maintain their social license to operate with their stakeholders, innovate , and adapt to continual and rapid change, while attracting and retaining customers and employees.he goal of societies is to survive and prosper, to be sustainable social systems. To achieve this goal, people around the globe must fulfill their present needs within the capacity of the planet, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
  2. the goal of the environment is to survive and prosper, to be a sustainable ecological system. If it is to achieve this goal, people cannot keep extracting minerals, heavy metals, oils, and gas from the earth’s crust and returning them as garbage faster than nature can absorb them. Similarly, humankind cannot keep generating synthetic materials and toxic substances and throwing them away faster than they can decompose or nature can absorb them. Nor can people increasingly degrade the ability of fish, bird, forest, plant, and animal sources and micro organisms to sustain and regenerate themselves.

  B & C.   Sanitation/ Higiene, and Safe Quality Water
 Comparative risk assessment reports have given water supply and sanitation a center stage in the global health crisis – “Every disease burden is directly linked to the prevailing water crisis and sanitary burden” says Sakov, an independent prestigious think tank.  “Salvage the decay in sanitary/hygiene cultures of the people and, the diseases burden becomes a non issue”, says an independent observer.  “Of what purpose is an emergency medical intervention to person who cooks with, baths with and drinks infected water?” a WHO Joint monitory Programme country observer asked.

“Can we still by 2015 meet the MDG’s health target if we circumvent the global sanitation and water crises?” is a question that keeps running all through.  The threat is very high and the network is very delicate.  In the global health burden, water crisis, sanitation crisis and the environmental burden of disease are inextricably linked and require an integrated approach, while still being sensitive to the particular issues they raise and, the individual threats they pose to global health, so that no single perspective is left out in the daily global efforts to relieve our shared humanity of  this age long burden. 
The impact of sanitation and safe hygiene development culture on the quality of life is beyond what human words can capture and, if we must get out of this dangerous disease web, then unhindered access to quality sanitary facilities and safe water is a global imperative.  The trend becomes more worrisome when we highlight the situations within the peri-urban and rural areas of the poor nations, where intervention is low and risk is high, posing an impasse. Here, SRDE approaches the issue from the ‘new dimension’ perspective – sanitation and water improvement encompasses an entire broad process aimed at both the individual and households through an organized process of systematic re-orientation of the people; health and hygiene education aimed at helping the individual to save him/herself from the prevailing disease threats.

However, improving the physical infrastructure of toilets, water supply and proper disposal of both waste, domestic and industrial water must be given adequate attention by the relevant agencies and governments,  if the health impact, the economic impact and the environmental effects are to be properly addressed, so as to achieve  full empowerment of the people especially the rural dwellers.

According to a WHO report, in these above impacts and effects, the most affected are the populations in the developing countries, living in extreme conditions of poverty, normally peri-urban dwellers or rural inhabitants. Among the main problems which are responsible for this situation are lack of priority given to the health sector, lack of financial resources, lack of sustainability of water supply and sanitation services, poor hygiene behaviors, inadequate sanitation in public places including  hospitals , health centers and schools. SRDE believes with WHO that providing access to sufficient quantities of safe water, the provision of facilities for sanitary disposal of excreta, and introducing sound hygiene behaviors are of capital importance in the global fight to reduce the burden of disease caused by the above factors.

  1. If there is any primary purpose for which SRDE was formed, it is to primarily respond more proactively to the evident global development/empowerment inequities hitting the poor nations of the world. Every other component of SRDE’s objective; health, environment,all aimed at helping the organization to meet this overall objective of   development/empowerment, with special focus on two primary target groups: the poor and illiterate rural dwellers living on less than a dollar per day, and the young population of productive age bracket roaming the streets of Africa, Asia and Latin America unemployed, uninformed, or even out rightly uneducated – typically underdeveloped and underpowered.  Unfortunately these two most vulnerable target groups constitute more than 80% of the total population of the third world nations.The daily increase of private armies, militancy, conflicts, terrorism and youth restiveness resulting from an age long frustration and under utility is creating overlapping tensions in the world web.  These things are interconnected.  The Nigerian Niger Delta crisis and those of the Middle East, with their attendant global effects have confirmed that this problem is neither a Nigerian nor Middle East thing, it is a global thing.  It is the collective problem of our shared humanity.

As stated in the introductory part of this policy document, SRDE’s emergence is in response to this question.  In SRDE, we accept the opinion of many passionate individuals and groups that we have stood at the cross road of change for too long. Hence, the most appropriate time to usher in series of proactive and pro-people reforms and initiatives, to bring development to those that need it most – the third world, is now or never.

Though efforts have been made, all these while, by other actors, SRDE is introducing a new dimension into the global crusade to end these global problems.  In this new dimension, more emphasis is laid on the local contents of reforms and initiatives introduced by the people and government of affected localities.

Hence, using the unique operational framework tagged “Local Content Fast treated Initiatives (LCFI) built on a public – private partnership (PPP) framework,  SRDE partners with local, state, national, international governments, international agencies and world bodies to harness local resources to build a one world program of action to ensure the development of the local communities, empower the peri-urban dwellers, especially women, to eradicate mass illiteracy and ensure protection  and opportunity for all young people of  productive age through local content initiatives, self empowerment schemes, prosumer initiatives, skill acquisition programs, rural development initiatives, local industrialization scheme, micro financing packages, zero start entrepreneurship schemes, small scale industrialization schemes, small and medium enterprises packages, capacity building programs, job creation and wealth creation initiatives, and youth crisis management initiatives.

Get full download of our policy document here (policydoc.pdf)