Weeks of severe and continuous flooding in September and October 2018 has devastated Nigerian communities, affecting almost two million people, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Major rivers and streams overflowed their banks following heavy rains from July destroying crops, inundating whole communities and causing a major humanitarian disaster.
Forest-dependent communities in Cross River, Nigeria and local organisations have opposed plans by the State of California, US to include Cross River forests in California’s forest carbon offset programme. California’s proposed “Tropical Forest Standard” would enable it to buy carbon credits from areas designated for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) such as Cross River State. REDD is a scheme that promises to pay cash to encourage forests to be set aside as carbon sinks in mitigating climate change. In this case, California, with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, can continue polluting while paying Cross River State to keep its forests to absorb greenhouse gasses. By doing so, California would be offsetting its emissions.
On Monday, 29 October 2018, victims of severe flooding in Rivers State, with the support of Social Action and other civic groups, rallied in Port Harcourt to protest the abysmal response by the federal, state and local governments to the plight of communities inundated since September 2018. Communities in states like Rivers and Bayelsa are among the worst affected by the 2018 floods, which has affected almost two million Nigerians, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Social Action joined other citizens groups in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on 19th April 2018 in peaceful Streets Walk Campaign against soot pollution in the city and other areas of the state. The black soot which has since 2016 polluted the city, the capital of Nigeria’s petroleum industry, is believed to result from incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon and related materials. While government agencies have failed to act against the pollution, residents believe that the pollution originates from asphalt companies, refineries and illegal artisanal refinery operators. In particular, the indiscriminate burning of confiscated vessels of crude oil thieves and destruction of illegal refineries by soldiers in the military Joint Task Force (JTF) contribute to air and water pollution. The protestors called for increased and transparent action by the authorities to stop the pollution.
Social Action’s monitoring of Ogoni communities in the Gokana, Tai, Eleme and Khana Local Government Areas in Rivers State in first quarter 2018 revealed that the actual clean-up of polluted sites has not yet started. The delay is continuing seven years after the release of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, and two years after the flag-off of the clean-up by the federal government in 2016. Our monitoring in Ogoniland also shows that the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), an agency set up by the Federal Government for cleanup is yet to award contracts for the implementation of emergency measures since the advertisement for the expression of interest by qualified companies in 2017. Thus, the Ogoni people are still without clean drinking water, health audit and other emergency measures recommended by UNEP in 2011.
By Ndidi P. Anih and Fyneface D. Fyneface
The descriptive name of the scheme, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) hides issues such as whether women were involved in the initial decision making on whether or not the scheme should be implemented in their villages, especially in Cross Rivers State, Nigeria. Here, most women indicated that they did not know about these matters. For those who did know, they said they were not invited to meetings when those decisions were made.
In November 2017, Social Action and partner organisation, YARAC organised citizens’ dialogues in Maiduguri and Yola as part of the ongoing effort to identify alternative solutions to social and ecological crisis in north-eastern Nigeria.
Participants comprising civil society groups, development experts, academia, governmental and non-governmental actors have identified the correction of structural imbalances embedded in the socio-economic, political and ecological configuration of north-east Nigeria as fundamental to engendering genuine and lasting development in the region. They said any effort to sustainably re-build the region must incorporate concrete mechanisms for tackling ecological issues while incorporating solid frameworks for socio-economic development and sound governance principles with active elements of citizens-focused accountability mechanisms.
Isaac ‘Asume’ Osuoka, Executive Director of Social Action reflects on field visits and a Roundtable Conference on the Ecological Crisis and Conflict in the Lake Chad Basin, which held in Maiduguri, Borno State, northeastern Nigeria.
On Saturday, 22 July 2017, Social Action organized a roundtable conference in Maiduguri, Borno State, with a focus on violence and displacement in northeastern Nigeria. The meeting, convened in collaboration with the organization YARAC, was in continuation of efforts to build a pan-Nigerian civil society response to the ecological crisis and violence in the Sahel region. The Maiduguri meeting provided the first opportunity for local civil society activists, academics, and members of the local media and officials of the Chad Basin Development Authority (CDBA) to examine immediate and longer term challenges to resettlement of over two million people displaced by Boko Haram violence in the area.
Social Actions and Nigerian groups organise mass rally against fossil fuel and pollution
Mass #Breakfree Actions in Ogoni, Nigeria. On the 30th of March 2017, hundreds of climate activists, as well as concerned and affected Nigerians, joined ongoing actions around the world aimed at pressing home the need to address our dependence on fossil fuels which poisons our planet and threatens to eliminate all of us. This problem is even more pungent in Nigeria where the effects of fossil fuel-related pollution and climate changes are emerging as major disasters. From sea level rises that threaten to consume whole coastal lying communities to crude oil pollutions which continue to deprive many of viable livelihoods, the continued extraction and dependence on fossil fuels has devastating consequences for Nigeria and especially the Niger Delta.
Stakeholders and communities in the Nigeria’s oil-bearing Niger Delta have urged the Buhari administration to demonstrate political will by effectively addressing the issues of oil theft and artisanal refineries in the area. Representatives of civil society organisations, traditional rulers and other community leaders, academics, oil companies and government agencies at the National Conference on Oil Theft and Artisanal Refineries in Nigeria, organised by Social Action Nigeria, in Port Harcourt, agreed that the artisanal refining of crude oil constitute the greatest immediate threat to the environment in Niger Delta today. They urged the government to deploy adequate means to address the related social and environmental problems, without criminalising community youth. Participants unanimously called for prompt and decisive steps to curb the dangers posed by illegal oil bunkering and artisanal crude oil refineries to both the region and the country’s economy.