Astro-prison consolidation 2023 was an astronomy outreach project sponsored by the International Astronomical Union-Office of Astronomy for Development (IAU-OAD) in partnership with the Centre for Basic Space Science, Nsukka Nigeria, Carmelite Prisoner’s Interest Organization (CAPIO) Enugu Nigeria and the Servants of the Poor (SP) Nigeria.

The project which took place in three medium correctional centres (formerly prisons) in Anambra State, South-East Nigeria was tactically planned and executed by the project team at Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi between 4th October 2023 and 27th October 2023.

The astro-prison consolidation project 2023 touched the lives of about three hundred and seventy-five inmates and two infants. Of the three correctional centres visited, only the Onitsha correctional centre houses female inmates with a total of seventy-two female, while two of the inmates were nursing infants.

The planning of this year’s Astro-prison consolidation started with the first official visit to CAPIO by the Grant Holder and his Project Team from the West African Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (WAROAD) in February 2023. This first visit necessitated a second visit to the CAPIO in May 2023 which resulted in the official visit of both Teams to the Deputy Controller of Nigerian Correctional Services in Anambra State on July 14th 2023. In all, the execution of Astro-prison project 2023 was a huge success with the following project outcomes:

a.) Medical outreach for inmates. The medical outreach was carried out by a team of Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists and other Health Professionals that were made possible through the assistance of CAPIO and SP. In all, the medical team attended to a total of 375 inmates with various ailments and two children (less than six months of age all delivered by their mothers while still under incarceration).

b.) Presentations of the following astro-based seminars in order to boost inmate’s value re-orientation:

     (i) Light pollution/Dark Sky Conservation.

.    (ii) Business of Astro-tourism and its potentials.

     (iii) Science diplomacy through the Concept of Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan.

     (iv) The Solar System.

c.) Entrepreneurship training for inmates: The project team through the services of Mekachi Agro-Ventures taught the targeted inmates and interested Warders the business of snail farming and beekeeping. It is also important to note that the practical aspect of the workshop was followed by the establishment of two snail farms in each of the three correctional centres visited. In all, the participants who benefited from this agro-based workshop were well over 375 persons because the Warders were also involved, though they were not among our initial target.

d.) Delivery of sanitary and other toiletries to the inmates at the point of their medical consultations and drug distribution in all the correctional centres visited

e.) With the presence of two infants at the Onitsha Correctional Centre, astro-prison consolidation also showered compassion on the two infants; although they were not captured in our initial budget, since we never envisaged seeing such infants in a Correctional Centre.

Project Sponsors: OAD, CBSS & CAPIO

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