Reflecting on a Year of Impact: SDN’s End-of-Year Message

Dear Friends, Partners, and Supporters of Stakeholder Democracy Network,

As we approach the close of another impactful year, it is with gratitude and reflection that we share the milestones achieved by SDN over the past 12 months in our mission to bring positive change to the Niger Delta. Personally, joining as Executive Director midway through the year, I witnessed the breadth of our work, spanning environmental and climate change advocacy, governance strengthening, and efforts to build a diversified economy with decent job opportunities. The strength of our partnerships with communities, government, civil society, and the private sector underpins every endeavour.

Despite the turbulence faced by the Niger Delta in 2023, marked by significant national and state-level elections,  economic instability exacerbated by the removal of the fuel subsidy,  long-standing issues like oil spill pollution and emerging threats like climate change, our commitment to positive change prevailed. Amid these challenges, we accomplished much and established platforms for future growth. These include;

Civic Engagement and Voter Registration: In the 2023 general elections, our unwavering commitment to democratic processes and inclusion led us to actively support voter registration and the collection of permanent voter cards in Rivers State. Collaborating with INEC, Disabled People’s Organisations, and grassroots groups, we facilitated accessible events for people with disabilities to register to vote. Our Women and Youth Ambassadors played a vital role in crafting a compelling policy platform and securing commitments from candidates, and they are now holding elected officials accountable. We also worked to secure civic space in the region and delivered meaningful progress in the administration of criminal justice. 

Bridging the Digital Gender Gap: Our ‘Reducing the Digital Gender Gaps in the Niger Delta’ project, launched in April 2023, has made significant strides. Conducting the most comprehensive study to date on the digital gender gap in the region, our digital skills training program received an overwhelming response. This initiative aims to train over 1,500 women, providing pathways to the tech sector and supporting women-owned businesses for higher incomes and greater productivity.

National Gas Policy Advocacy: In response to the change in government following the 2023 general election, SDN, along with other Civil Society Organisations, championed transparency and dialogue on the nation’s gas sector. Advocating for the new administration to disclose strategies within the first ninety days of office, this effort sets the stage for inclusive and accountable governance in the execution of the Decade of Gas policy.

Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs): The introduction of Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) presents a significant opportunity for the region if managed effectively. Channelling mandatory contributions from the oil industry into community projects, we are developing a guide to support the HCDT policy’s effective implementation in collaboration with communities, government, and oil and gas companies.

Environmental Policy and Accountability: Through our coordination of independent civil society monitoring of the Ogoniland clean-up, SDN has highlighted the challenges faced by the clean-up process. Our reporting has spurred improvements, yet further work is needed for a comprehensive cleanup across the Delta.

 

As we reflect on these achievements, we acknowledge that much work lies ahead. We express gratitude to the communities we serve, our partners, and all who support our mission.

Wishing you a joyous holiday season and a fruitful New Year!

Warm regards,

Adam Heal

Executive Director, Stakeholder Democracy Network

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