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WSSCC’s National Coordinator for Nigeria, Priscilla Achakpa, has been made an honorary “Eco Hero and Ambassador” by environmental magazine show, Eco@Africa. The newly launched programme – a coproduction between Nigeria’s Channels TV and German broadcaster Deutsche Well, which showcases environmental innovation from Africa and Europe – chose Priscilla from a shortlist of 15 nominees across the environmental sector.
The award, which follows on from her being heralded as one of a prestigious group of female “climate warriors” by Vogue last year, came as a complete surprise.
“I don’t know how the nomination came about,” she says, jokingly, “but I got a call from a colleague in Nigeria saying, ‘Congratulations, Priscilla!’ I was like, ‘Congratulations? What do you mean?’”
The aim of the voluntary ambassadorship is to, “act as a catalyst to drive growth for the community of environmental enthusiasts in Nigeria and throughout Africa”, provide a platform for sharing thoughts and opinions on environmental issues, and raise awareness via social media, mainstream broadcasting and public speaking.
Priscilla, who is executive director of the Women Environmental Programme (WEP) in Nigeria, relishes her new role as an Eco@Africa ambassador; but she also sees it as rewarding a collective effort.
“I feel honoured to receive such an award, which recognises the work my organisation has done on environmental issues, such as water and sanitation, and climate change,” she says. “But I see it as a great responsibility as it’s not just about me but about the people I’ve worked with–my partners and colleagues have made it possible for me to get this award. So the award is not just about me–it’s about all of us.”
Given her position as WEP’s executive director, her role as a National Coordinator for the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, and her work advising Nigerian government on environmental issues, Priscilla welcomes not just the challenge of potentially more work, but the addition of yet another leadership role, and the incentive it gives her.
“Yes, I feel there’s much more work to be done; but when you’re made any sort of an ambassador you’re entrusted with more responsibility on your shoulders, so you have to keep moving forwards. This is why I think that such an award [as the Eco@Africa ambassadorship] is good, because now the demand on me is higher. The expectations both inside and outside of Nigeria are greater. A lot of communities are looking to me and asking how can I assist them, given the role I’m currently playing.
“The implication is I need to step up in terms of the work that I’m doing and get more funding to respond to the challenges we face. As a WSSCC National Coordinator on water and sanitation, I have contact with two people who are very influential in the sector in Nigeria – the minister for the environment and the minister for water resources. But this means that my workload has tripled, not least because they’re looking to me for support, too!
Ultimately, however, Priscilla feels that juggling global, regional and national level responsibilities cannot detract from what is happening at a grassroots level.
“For me, working on the ground is always key–building strong institutions at home is something that’s very important to me. I think it’s always important to think globally, but act locally.
“Being and Eco Ambassador and a WSSCC National Coordinator means I have the opportunity to meet top government officials to promote the ideals of WSSCC’s Strategic Engagement Plan both at the country level and the global level. Coupled with that, having people like the WSSCC chair, Amina [Mohammed] in Nigeria gives WSSCC a lot of credibility among government, and thus a really strong advantage in the country.”