This project will strengthen the ability of civil society to hold the Federal Government of Nigeria to account for a major clean-up of oil spills in the Niger Delta. The project focuses on the scheduled clean-up of the major environmental disaster in Ogoniland, generated by over 50 years of oil spills in the region. We will do this by training and supporting local civil society organisations (CSOs) to physically visit and assess the actual progress of the clean-up in a systematic way. This independent checking will help rebuild trust in government to protect Nigerians from the negative health, environmental, and economic impacts of the oil industry, following a poor track record of oil spill clean-up, remediation, and restoration in Nigeria. The results of these independent CSO assessments of the Ogoni oil spill clean-up will be made easily accessible to the public.
While the Ogoniland clean-up has encountered many challenges so far, a successful clean-up will remove a major obstacle to long-term peace and social development in the Niger Delta, which has seen decades of conflict and instability, and fulfil the Ogoni people’s right to ‘a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development’, set out in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights. Therefore, it is critical that civil society in the region is able to constructively engage with the government body responsible for the clean-up, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).
The project will be delivered by the Port Harcourt-based civil society organisations, Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), with funding from the Embassy of The Netherlands.
The aim of this project is to strengthen the ability of civil society and the public to monitor the Ogoniland clean-up and engage with Federal Government of Nigeria created the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) on the quality and progress of the clean-up. This will contribute towards increased transparency and accountability of government, and a cleaner and healthier Niger Delta.
- Build the capacity of civil society (as well as government), by training 10 CSOs, 21 community monitors and six National Oil Spill Detection & Response Agency (NOSDRA) staff to carry out an effective, independent assessment of the Ogoniland clean-up. The cohort trained will be deployable in other contexts and able to apply for and be deployed in support of other oil spill assessment activities.
- Create a database of technical samples and other data from impacted communities. This data will be based on a series of visits to the 21 initial sites that the clean-up is intended to target, spread across 12 local communities.
- Document and analyse the progress made by the clean-up in five reports and an online dashboard, bringing together citizens, CSOs and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) around results and any action that needs to be taken.
Environmental degradation is a major issue in the Niger Delta. The legacy of half a century of exploitation of the region’s oil and gas resources without adequate environmental protection has been the creation of one of the most polluted natural environments in the world. In the Ogoniland area of Rivers state, more than fifty years of oil exploration and production have led to major pollution across a huge number of sites. This has had a devastating environmental impact, ruined economic activity based on farming and fishing, and fundamentally violated the rights of Ogoniland’s 200 communities to a healthy environment. Remedial action was poor or absent and the Government violently repressed the ensuing peaceful protests by the Ogoni people in the 1990s (including the hanging of the Ogoni Nine, with Ken Saro-Wiwa amongst them). Since then there has been significant social unrest and ongoing conflict and instability.
Following a report and recommendations published in 2011 by UNEP on the oil pollution in Ogoniland, the Federal Government of Nigeria created the HYPREP to coordinate the restoration of Ogoniland’s environment and livelihoods. After years of little tangible action and further frustrations from impacted communities, the long-awaited clean-up in Ogoniland is now commencing. Although this is welcome, many have concerns about how the project has been conducted so far and there is a need for greater transparency and information on its progress.
This project aims to address this by generating access to clear, accurate information on these issues, and support public, civil society, and official responses to them.
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